The Confirmational Biases of Lawrence Davidson and Others Regarding the Middle East Conflict
A lot can be learned about the Middle East through debate in which both sides present their points of view and answer each others distortions. Although the following is an answer to Dr. Davidson's rebuttal to my article (Truth or Propaganda) it is more than that, it is an answer to propaganda that has confused many more people than Dr. Davidson. Dr. Davidson accuses me of confirmational bias which he defines as selective thinking which ignores evidence that refutes my beliefs. He writes that the weight of evidence against my claims is so great that it doesn't matter if one or more of my examples is true. In my previous article I show a few of many examples of the Palestinians being caught fabricating atrocity stories. If as Dr. Davidson assumes, the Israelis are guilty of widespread atrocities why do the Palestinians find it necessary to jeopardize their credibility by fabricating atrocity stories? How does Dr. Davidson know that any of the allegations made by the Palestinians against the Israelis are true? He claims that the weight of evidence that the Israelis commit widespread atrocities against the Palestinians is overwhelming but the only evidence he presents are unverified allegations. Clearly there are verifiable situations where Israeli military actions have resulted in the deaths of Palestinian civilians but should not those situations be viewed in context? If Palestinian terrorists fire rockets from civilian towns at Israeli civilians and Israelis fire back and a Palestinian civilian dies whose fault is it?
Dr. Davidson writes that reports about the Israeli invasion of Jenin by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and UN Middle East Envoy Terje Roed-Larsen (who described Israel’s invasion as “horrifying beyond belief” and “morally repugnant.”) indict Israel for its inhuman behavior in Jenin. They like Dr. Davidson chose to parrot Palestinian allegations. Yet when the allegations were examined as I have pointed out in my article the death toll was found to be 56 not 500 as the Arabs claimed. After being presented the results of investigations even some of the Palestinian Arabs admitted that they had exaggerated the death toll. An excellent video about Jenin can be viewed here. Dr. Davidson is confusing the overwhelming willingness of the media and human rights agencies to accept Palestinian allegations without verification with overwhelming evidence that the allegations are correct. It is extremely important to verify the allegations emanating from Arab areas before reporting them as fact, the Arab world is full of lies regarding Israel, a powerful video that illustrates this can be viewed online at the web site of the American Congress For Truth. After the war in Lebanon, Human Rights Watch "found no cases in which Hezbollah deliberately used civilians as shields to protect them from retaliatory IDF attack." These cases that for Human Rights Watch were nowhere to be found can be viewed online by clicking here and here and here. There is a general tendency for the Islamic world to make false accusations of atrocities against their targets when they are the ones who commit the atrocities, this tactic was exposed in the trial of Milosevic (Serbs Lies and Videotape, frontpagemag.com 6/17/05) and in an Al Qaeda training manual in which terrorists were instructed to make false allegations of torture if captured.
Why is Amnesty International willing to parrot Palestinian allegations without verification? Could it be bias? The anti-Israel bias of Human Rights Watch has been documented here. Since that bias was documented Human Rights Watch tried to raise money from Saudi Arabia one of the world's worst human rights violators to support its attacks on Israel.
Dr. Davidson ridicules revelations of the bias of Human Rights Watch and similar organizations as conspiracy theories and as proof of confirmational bias but the facts speak otherwise. Amnesty International's bias is well illustrated in accusation that the United States is the leading purveyor and practitioner of torture in the world and Amnesty's threat to leading Americans of arresting them for war crimes if they travel abroad. Amnesty called the terrorist prison in Guantanamo an American ‘gulag.’ (Without Amnesty, Frontpagemag.com 6/3/05) Denis Prager in an article titled "Amnesty International's Tortured Comparison" (frontpagemag.com 6/7/2005) wrote:
For the record, at
there are about 520 prisoners, the vast majority, if not all, of whom have been rounded up in anti-terror warfare. They were non-uniformed terrorists who are not subject to Geneva Convention rules on prisoners. But even if they did wear uniforms, they would await release at the end of hostilities. They are, even according to Schultz, provided with medical care and a fine diet that honors their religious codes, and they are allowed to practice their religion. Guantanamo
Now compare the estimated 20-30 million prisoners sent to the string of camps across the
Soviet Union. They obtained no medical care, were served portions of food inadequate to human survival, and were frozen and worked to death by the millions. Moreover, virtually everyone sent there was entirely innocent of any crime. Every prisoner of the Gulag would have given anything to be a prisoner in . Guantanamo
As the Wall Street Journal noted, equating Guantanamo to the Soviet gulag in which millions died, "is just one more sign of the moral degradation of Amnesty International." Lt. Col Gordon Cucullu, in an article titled "What I Saw at Gitmo" (frontpagemag.com 6/27/05) wrote how the prisoners there attack guards and threaten to hunt down their families and kill them after they are released. He wrote how he left
[C]onvinced that America is being extraordinarily lenient – far too lenient.
Could it be that Israel is being too lenient to Palestinian terrorists also?
North Korea a country that uses poison gases on its imprisoned people is given a free pass by Amnesty International. Instead of referring to Korea's concentration camps as Gulags, Amnesty International calls them "detention centers". Patrick Devenny in an article titled Amnesty: For North Korea, (frontpagemag.com 6/22/05) outlines the omissions of Amnesty International in regard to North Korea.. John Podhoretz in an article titled Amnesty's calumny that appeared in the New York Post 5/25/02 and Evelyn Gordon in an article titled Amnesty's Lies that was published in the Jerusalem Post on 6/3/2002 provide more evidence of Amnesty International's bias against Israel.
Ralph Peters wrote in regard to Amnesty International's criticisms (Gitmo Cocktail, New York Post, 6/16/05):
If we put our captives up at the Four Seasons, we'd be condemned because somebody smelled bacon at breakfast...you cannot reason with ideologues — whether they're Islamist fanatics or pathetic old lefties fishing for a cause to give meaning to squandered lives.
Israel is in the same situation as the United States. No matter how far Israel bends over backwards to protect the human rights of the Palestinians, Israel will be condemned by by the world and the world's human rights organizations. The sad truth is the world overall is an anti-Semitic place.
The bias of Physicians For Human Rights one of the main critics of Israel's checking Palestinian ambulances for bombs and murderers, becomes apparent when we consider the stories of Wafaa Samir Ibrahim Bass, Hamed A-Karim Hamed Abu Lihiya, and Hassan Ahmed Ali Tom all who attempted to infiltrate Israel using medical documents in order to commit murder. (Israel National News 6/21/05) Wafaa is a woman who was allowed entry into Israel from Gaza so that she could receive medical treatment at the Soroka Medical Center in Be,er Sheva. Luckily the Israelis checked her and found that she was wearing explosive pants (Panty Bomber 6/21/05). Her plan was to detonate them next to Israeli children in the hospital. Physicians for Human Rights made cartoons of Israeli soldiers oppressing Palestinian civilians. Why didn't they use photos? Was it that they didn't have any? The bias of Physicians for Human Rights is discussed here.
The bias of another organization, Human's Right Watch has been documented in a report by NGO monitor published 4/18/05. After Israel fought Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006. Human Rights Watch found no cases in which Hezbollah deliberately used civilians as shields to protect them from retaliatory IDF attack." Gerald Steinberg wrote in the Jerusalem Post (8/26/06) that
Reporters from The New York Times, The New Yorker and elsewhere had no difficulty finding reliable detailed evidence of Hizbullah's activities in these areas, but HRW's "probes" and "searches" came up empty. Perhaps they were not looking very hard.
Alan Dershowitz wrote (What are they watching?, New York Sun 8/26/2006):
Anyone who watched even a smattering of TV during the war saw with their own eyes direct evidence of rockets being launched from civilian areas. But not Human Rights Watch.
Dershowitz included quotes in his article such as:
"Hezbollah came to Ain Ebel to shoot its rockets," said Fayad Hanna Amar, a young Christian man, referring to his village. "They are shooting from between our houses." Mr. Amar said Hezbollah fighters in groups of two and three had come into Ain Ebel, less than a mile from Bint Jbail, where most of the fighting has occurred. They were using it as a base to shoot rockets, he said, and the Israelis fired back.
– Sabrina Tavernise, "Christians Fleeing Lebanon Denounce Hezbollah," the New York Times, July 28, 2006
Near the hospital, a mosque lay in ruins … A man approached and told me that he was a teacher at the Hariri school. I asked him why he thought the Israelis had hit a mosque, and he said, simply, "It was a Hezbollah mosque." … A younger man came up to me and, when we were out of earshot of others, said that Hezbollah had kept bombs in the basement of the mosque, but that two days earlier a truck had taken the cache away.
– Jon Lee Anderson, "The Battle for Lebanon," the New Yorker, August 8, 2006
Either Human Right Watch is deliberately lying or they are incredibly incompetent.
The United Nations of which Terje Roed-Larsen is a Middle East Envoy is extremely biased against Israel. An excellent video that demonstrates that can be viewed here. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said that Israel should be wiped off the map and that Israel would soon be wiped out. After he gave a hate filled speech against Israel at the U.N. he was warmly embraced by General Assembly President Miguel d'Ecoto Brockmann. Some audience members cheered during his speech and no one signalled any opposition to what he said even though his rhetoric according to the Simon Wiesenthal Center would have made the Nazis proud (Simon Wiesenthal fund raising letter 2008 Dec?. Of the 191 member nations of the United Nations, 190 may be elected to serve a term on the powerful Security Council. Libya, for example, may serve on the Council. So may North Korea and Iran. Syria has chaired the security council even though it has been repeatedly been identified by the U.S. and others as a state sponsor of terrorism. The only country in the world that cannot sit on the Security Council is Israel.
Deputy PM Natan Sharansky of Israel discussed Israel's experiences with U.N. bias. He said:
Unfortunately, we have had very bad experience with any kind of involvement of the United Nations in the conflict. One of the last examples was, of course, the kidnapping of our soldiers by Hizbullah. The United Nations forces did not prevent it because, they said, they did not see it. But we found out from our Intelligence sources that they did see it. They watched the whole operation and taped it. When we demanded the tape, the United Nations denied for a year that they had the tape. Terje Larsen himself became very angry and shouted at our representatives: how dare we think that the United Nations has a tape. Only later, when they recognized that they do have the tape, they agreed to give it to us but only with the faces of the Hizbullah people masked in order not to take sides.
The UN condemns Israel while ignoring massive human rights violations around the world. A 5 minute video of the UN being condemned for this can be seen here. Peter Hansen, the head of the UN Reliefs and Works Agency UNRWA has admitted that Hamas members are on it's payroll. (Canada Looking at UN agency over Palestinians Connection, CBC News updated 10/4/04) Hansen has "for years has expressed anti-Israeli, biased, unrestrained positions and statements," Dan Gillerman, Israel's UN ambassador, told Israel Radio. Examples of UNRWA collaborations with terrorists are given in an article titled, UNRWA's Hamas Employees.
When Israeli troops went into Lebanon to fight Hezbollah the United Nations "peacekeeping force" Unifil, assisted Hezbollah by publishing the position of Israeli troops on its web site. (Israel National News 8/27/2006)
One of the most outrageous examples of the bias of the United Nations has nothing to do with Israel. John Eibner, a member of Christian Solidarity International, buys slaves their freedom in the Sudan. One would hope that the United Nations would assist him in every way possible. He wrote what the U.N.'s role was in an article in Middle East Quarterly (Dec 1999) as follows:
Last spring, Sudan's government, the radical Islamist regime of the National Islamic Front (NIF) headed by Hasan at-Turabi and Gen. ‘Umar al-Bashir, protested to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights about our work. The regime claims that my organization, Christian Solidarity International (CSI), is the main source of the abduction and kidnapping of children in southern Sudan.1 In April, the Khartoum regime also initiated proceedings to deny CSI its consultative status at the United Nations (U.N.), alleging that we act contrary to the purposes and principles of the U.N. charter.2
About the same time, the world's richest and most influential child welfare organization, the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), ended its long silence on the enslavement of Sudanese woman and children. Instead of condemning the slavers, UNICEF—whose mandate requires it to work in partnership with the government of Sudan—echoed Khartoum by calling our liberation of slaves "absolutely intolerable," and by accusing us of violating the Slavery Convention.3 Others, with agendas of their own, perhaps working with the Sudanese regime or trying to salvage their own tarnished reputations, have spread rumors of fraud about these activities.4
Then in late October, the U.N. Economic and Social Council voted by a tally of 26 to 14 (with 12 abstentions) to withdraw our consultative status, thus effectively excluding CSI from the U.N. system.
Yet if anything is "absolutely intolerable," it is that the international community has allowed slavery and other crimes against humanity to be institutionalized by a member state of the United Nations.
For more information about U.N. bias against Israel I recommend an article by Boris Shusteff titled The Ugly Face of Antisemitism (Dec 97) and an article written by Anne Bayefsky titled Undiplomatic Unbalance (National Review Online, 12/13/04). She finished her article with the sentence
"Arab and Islamic states have the U.N. in a chokehold and, so far, no one is prepared to do anything about it."
A recent example of just how bad this chokehold is was when Islamic U.N. representatives blocked an attempt to have the world body condemn killing in the name of religion. (Muslim Nations Throttle U.N. Terror Resolution, wnd.com 7/28/05)
Anti-Israel bias should not come as a surprise. Anti-Semitism did not vanish with the Holocaust and one of the ways it manifests itself is in attacks on Israel.
In my previous article I wrote: “The fact that the Israeli army endangered their own soldiers in Jenin in order to avoid killing civilians is a dramatic testament to the efforts of Israel to avoid hurting civilians.” How does Dr. Davidson attempt to rebut this? He writes
I guess that Isaac actually believes this. You can convince yourself of just about anything by concentrating very hard on selective evidence, by cultivating a kind of tunnel vision that renders suspect or invisible any evidence that does not fit your set world view.
Lets examine what Dr. Davidson is doing here. He can't refute the truth of what I say so he attempts to ridicule me for "actually believing this" as if it is absurd to do so. Yet he has no answer as to why the Israelis did not simply bomb Jenin from a distance. He accuses me of cultivating a kind of tunnel vision that renders suspect or invisible any evidence that does not fit my set world view. Yet when faced with this overwhelming evidence that he is wrong, it is Lawrence Davidson who exhibits tunnel vision. He refuses to see the obvious because it does not fit his world view.
There are many others who from Dr. Davidson's perspective, share my tunnel vision problem.
A New York Post Editorial (4/17/02) quoted an Israeli Corps commander as saying:
I could have finished it all with a whistle. Full-corps fire on the center of the camp and the whole thing would have been over. But we behave differently.
Jonathan Foreman in an article called "Media Miss Israeli Restraint" (New York Post 4/17/02) wrote:
the tactics chosen by the Israeli army -- sending infantrymen from house to house -- simply make no sense unless the avoidance of civilian casualties was a priority.
If the Israelis were truly as callous or reckless about civilian casualties as CNN and the BBC imply, they could have destroyed the "terrorist infrastructure" at much less risk to their own men:
The last time American troops fought guerillas in an urban area was the battle of Hue in 1968. We didn't hesitate to use artillery and jet aircraft in support of the Marines.
The early French response to the uprising in Algeria included the naval bombardment of a rebel-controlled town, randomly killing up to 8,000 people.
The Russians literally pulverized the Chechen capital of Grozny in 1999.
And if the Israelis were as monstrously cavalier about human life as their enemies claim, they would simply have shelled or bombed Ramallah and Jenin into submission. That's what Syria's then-President Assad did at Hama in 1982--where he crushed the Muslim Brotherhood at the cost of at least 10,000 lives....
The Israelis could be forgiven for learning the wrong lesson from the past two weeks: That next time they go after the people who've been suicide bombing their kids, they might as well just level Ramallah and Nablus and Jenin. Why take the risk of fighting from house to house if you're going to be treated as if you've done a Grozny anyway?
Twenty three Israeli soldiers lost their lives routing out the terrorist infrastructure of Jenin. The father of one of the soldiers who died accused Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of having killed his son. The father said that Sharon knew where the terrorists were and could have bombed the buildings.
Israel TV military commentator Ron Ben-Yeshai angrily said in his broadcast of April 9, 02
I would like to emphasize: The fighting in Jenin was so hard and so costly not only because of the high motivation on the Palestinian side [to continue fighting], but also because the army was prevented from using its full force. It was prevented from blowing up buildings - something that the Palestinians did do; the army was prevented from collapsing buildings on their inhabitants - something that the Palestinians did do without hesitation; this fighting, therefore, which was waged by trying to preserve [Arab] civilian lives, cost us many victims.
Reuven, an Israeli observer in Jenin, spoke with Arutz-7 (April 9 2002) from the site while the battles were going on:
My impression is that the army is playing with kid gloves. It should take megaphones and announce that whoever doesn't come out now, the building will soon be collapsed on him. They [the army] are endangering themselves and the soldiers... A short time ago we had a terrible incident when they went into a building and [ed note: the interviewer interrupted him with a different question at this point, as the incident was still under military-censor wraps]... The problem is that the army is trying to be too humane, but - it is incomprehensible! I truly can't understand! [If it's because the army is afraid that pictures of dead terrorists will rouse the world against us], then what about the pictures of our dead! Why don't they show those pictures!?" He said that the soldiers are fighting like true heroes, but "they are not being given the correct orders. If there are suspects in a building, the whole building should be destroyed! Who else in the world would act the way we're acting with such murderers?! What kind of wantonness is this?!
An audio interview with IDF spokesman David Baruch about what happened in Jenin can be heard by clicking here.
Dr. Davidson accuses Israeli bulldozer drivers of knocking down inhabited buildings and says that Israeli bulldozer drivers actually admit to doing so. I did a search on the internet to find where he got that story and learned that an article was written by Z. Yehezkieli in Yedioth Aharonot (5/31/2002?) called “I Made Them a Stadium in the Middle of the Camp” referring to the Jenin refugee camp. I have not yet been able to get hold of the original article but there are summaries posted on the net. According to these summaries one bulldozer driver, Moshe Nissim said:
"I erased every house they (Palestinians) were shooting from.. The soldiers warned with a speaker, that the tenants must leave before I come in, but I did not give anyone a chance. I did not wait ... I would give a house the hardest push, so it would fall as fast as possible ... "
This statement of Moshe Nissim's makes it clear that one bulldozer driver did knock down inhabited buildings. Before we judge Moshe Nissim to harshly however from our comfortable chairs in our peaceful American neighborhoods, we need to remember that these buildings provided cover for terrorists who were shooting at his buddies and try and imagine if we were in that situation and we could save our friends and perhaps ourselves by knocking down buildings from which terrorists were shooting. We also need to ask the question, why were terrorists shooting from buildings inhabited by civilians? Don't these terrorists have some responsibility for the fate of the civilians in those buildings?
Moshe Nissim in his narrative mentions that the soldiers warned the inhabitants of the houses to leave first. The implications of this warning appears to have been lost on Dr. Davidson because it doesn't fit Dr. Davidson's world view. Why did Israeli soldiers warn Arab civilians to leave the buildings Dr. Davidson? Such warnings provided opportunities for terrorists to leave as well. Why take such a risk? If as Dr. Davidson argues Israelis kill Arab civilians indiscriminately why these warnings?
In war, even wars fought by the most humane of armies, there will be the occasional soldier who in order to protect his comrades and who out of rage at the enemy, will violate the restraints imposed by his orders. In the case of the Israeli army, such violations, are used as propaganda against them and as proof that they indiscriminately kill civilians. Dr. Davidson's confirmational bias leads him to latch on to such propaganda.
Israelis have every reason for rage. The operation in Jenin to root out terrorists took place in response to escalating terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. The straw that broke the camels back was when a suicide bomber killed 28 people and injured over a hundred more in a hotel dining room who were celebrating the Jewish Passover (International Policy Institute For Counter-Terrorism web page 3/28/02). Hotel guests, most of whom were families gathered to celebrate Passover together, struggle over overturned tables and dismembered bodies to find the exit. One witness quoted by the Associated Press said that he called out to a wounded woman and offered to help her get up. "How can you help me up?" he recalled her saying. "I don't have any legs."
Davidson argues that I might argue that Israeli actions are a response to Palestinian terrorism and dismisses that argument by saying that Palestinians claim their violence is a response to Israeli terrorism. He cannot see the difference between the deliberate murder of Jewish civilians celebrating a Jewish holiday and Israeli soldiers putting their lives at risk in order to avoid hurting Palestinian civilians in their attempt to stop further murders.
Dr. Davidson argues that a massacre really happened at Jenin and that we just don't know about it because the Israelis did not allow the U.N. fact finding mission to do its work properly. He bases that allegation on demands Israel placed on the U.N. fact finding team. CNN wrote an article about those demands titled Disputes Delay U.N. Mission to Jenin Camp (5/1/2002). According to CNN Israel demanded that advisers on military and police action made full members of the panel. The reason for this is that people who know nothing about what is involved in hunting out terrorists would see rubble and conclude the Israelis were guilty of a massacre. The article also reported that Israel objected to the appointment of Sommaruga who served as head of the Red Cross from 1987 to 1999 on the team. This can be understood if one remembers an article written by Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer who quoted Sommaruga as saying, "If we're going to have the Shield of David (as an accepted symbol for relief workers), why would we not have to accept the swastika?" The U.N. did not meet Israel's demands and issued its reports based on other reports from the area. The U.N. report concluded that there was no massacre at Jenin. Despite Israeli restrictions the Secretary General ended the report by saying that he was
"nevertheless confident that the picture painted in this report is a fair representation of a complex reality."
The Demolition of Palestinian Homes
Dr. Davidson makes the general accusation that Israelis demolish Palestinian homes. There is no question that, the Israelis have demolished the homes of suicide bombers and terrorists in order to deter further attacks against Israeli civilians. Are not human lives worth the destruction of some houses Dr. Davidson? It's interesting how much the numbers of homes quoted by Dr. Davidson as having been destroyed differ between Amnesty International (3000) and UNRWA (10,000). What do they base their figures on, conflicting Palestinian allegations?
Regarding the accusation that Israelis bombard civilian targets, Hamas terrorists base themselves among civilians. They shoot at Israelis from among civilians. If the Israelis shoot back in self defense they will inevitably hit civilians. Who is responsible in that case, the terrorist who fires from among civilians and uses them as a human shield or the Israelis who fire in self defense? If a Palestinian terrorist was firing at you from a civilian home Dr. Davidson and your options were either shoot back or get shot what would you do? Regarding the 1 ton bomb dropped on Salah Shehade. The Israelis claim they thought there were no civilians were present at the time. Dr. Davidson claims they knew there were but he presents no evidence to support that allegation. He just knows that they knew because he knows they are nefarious evil Israelis who deliberately target innocent Palestinians. Do I detect a bit of confirmational bias? The United States dropped 500 pound bombs on the town of Husaybah to seal off a route terrorists use to enter Iraq. Might not those bombs hurt civilians? In January 2006, the U.S. launched an air strike at 3 homes in the Bajur tribal region of Pakistan in an effort to kill al-Zawahi Al Qaeda's number 2 and is believed to have killed at least 13 civilians including women and children. (Munir Ahmad, Pakistan: U.S. Airstrike Can't Be Repeated, excite news 1/21/06)
The Oppression of Palestinians:
Davidson would have us believe that the Jews oppress Palestinian Arabs, but Palestinians when they can vote with their feet or when they can speak anonymously indicate that life under Israeli administration is preferred to life under the Palestinian administration. The following is from an article in Worldnetdaily titled (Palestinians: Gaza Evacuation Bad For Us, 7/20/05)
WorldNetDaily talked yesterday with several Nezer Hazani greenhouse workers. They agreed to the interviews on condition their last names not be printed and explained no photographs could be taken out of fear of retaliation from area militants who, they said, would be upset at their expressing solidarity with Jews.
Saed, a 42-year-old greenhouse worker who commutes every day from Khan Yunis, said, "For me, it's a really good life. I make enough money to feed my family. I am close with [my bosses], who treat me with respect. I don't want to be out of a job."
Fhaud, 63, a greenhouse supervisor, said he has grown attached to his Jewish employers.
"I've known my boss since he was a kid and I worked for his father," he said. "Some workers here have known three generations of Jewish families. I was invited to all the bar mitzvahs and weddings."
Mahmoud, who works in the same greenhouse, said, "I don't want the disengagement to go through. Not just because I'll lose a job, but because I'll lose friends."
Mahmoud said he thinks the Gaza withdrawal is immoral. "The Jews who live here didn't do anything wrong. They were put here by a lot of help from the Israeli government, and told they would stay forever," he said. "Now the Israeli government wants to rip them out. It's not right."
Anita Tucker, one of the pioneer farmers of Gush Katif, told WND, "Like usual, the Palestinians are losing out when Israel leaves. These workers have large families who depend on the income they get in our greenhouses. We've all grown quite close. Before the intifada and all the closures, I used to go to their homes on the Palestinian side. We've shared a lot of family celebrations."
The workers also say they fear the domestic consequences of Israel's Gaza withdrawal.
"We know once Israel leaves, Hamas is in power. A lot of the Palestinians in Gaza are really upset about this because life won't be good for us," said Mahmoud.
With Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Gaza evacuation plan drawing closer, and Hamas swiftly gaining power in the area, analysts have pointed to worrying signs the terror group will use its gains to impose a Taliban-like Islamist regime on the Palestinians in Gaza.
Hamas recently banned an open-air music and dance festival, saying it was against Islam. Israeli sources say Hamas has established its own hard-line Islamic court system in Gaza that is being used in the place of the Palestinian Authority's official judicial system.
There have been reports of a Hamas Anti-Corruption Unit, described by intelligence sources as a kind of "morality police," enforcing hard-line Islamic rules on local residents. The Unit recently carried out a high-profile "honor killing" of a woman it suspected of committing adultery.
"We are treated much better in Israel than by Palestinians in charge," said Saed.
Saed explained when he crosses into Katif he is regularly extorted by Palestinian forces to guarantee his safe passage.
"On the Israeli side no problems. But on the Palestinian part of the crossing, the security forces make us give them sometimes 50 percent of any produce we bring back just to get through okay."
Said Mahmoud: "It's not good for us. I want Israel to stay."
The Everyone is a Terrorist Equation
Davidson equates my explanations of Baruch Goldstein's motives with the justifications made by Hamas supporters who point to the deaths of innocent Palestinians at the hands of Israeli soldiers. Davidson ignores the difference in the two situations. Israeli civilians died due to deliberate efforts to murder them by Palestinian terrorists whereas the Palestinian noncombatants who died, died as a result of Palestinians terrorists basing themselves among Palestinian civilians and shooting from among Palestinian civilians. In a briefing on April 19, 2002, Natan Sharansky spoke about how Jenin was one of the clearest examples of the differences between Israeli and Palestinian actions. He said:
And my last point, is about Jenin. It's absolutely shocking with what easiness the world is repeating the words "massacre in Jenin". Jenin is maybe one of the clearest examples of two different approaches, or different roles or criteria, with which these two worlds treat human life.
One, Jenin and the refugee camp of Jenin were the heart of the terror activities. Dozens of suicide bombers were sent from that relatively small place. It had more explosive materials, this small area of the Jenin refugee camp, than most of the big cities of Judea and Samaria. Definitely, it had the highest concentration of explosive materials in this area, if not in the world.
When we came to this refugee camp, to the place where for years no army and no soldier had entered, it became clear that practically every house, and almost every window, was booby-trapped, that the struggle would be very hard.
We had to make a decision. The army had to make a decision and the politicians had to make a decision whether to use airplanes, artillery, tanks or to fight from house-to-house. It was clear that if we fight from house-to-house a lot of soldiers will risk their lives but hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands, of women and children who were prepared to leave but could not leave, their lives will be saved. And we decided to fight house-to-house. I want to remind you that 23 soldiers, 23 young boys and those who came from the reserves with families and children, from among our 29 losses in this Operation Defense Shield fell in this camp because of our decision to fight house-to-house and not to use artillery and airplanes. And when two days after this, hundreds of children and women left, surrendered - we released them of course. They were saved also because of our decision not to use artillery and tanks and airplanes but to risk the lives of our soldiers.
The estimated number of losses, nobody knows exactly, we are sure will not exceed 90. Overwhelmingly, almost everybody who was discovered until now was a soldier with arms, with weapons in their hands and some with explosive materials, suicide bombers.
One more fact: there are 1100 houses in the refugee camp; 95 were destroyed. Yet the concentration of those houses which are destroyed are on four streets, because there was the heart of terror.
The overwhelmingly majority of the population was saved, and that is not a massacre. If any of you went to the Dolphinarium discotheque or to the hotel in Netanya, you saw what "massacre" means. Secretary of State Powell saw the pictures that our police took after these massacres. We are not publishing them because of the awful inhuman views in them. But those are real massacres, and that's the difference between those for whom human life is the highest value and those for whom human life is, at best, a shield to protect terrorists.
Israeli Tolerance of Palestinian Dissent
In my article I wrote how the International Commission of Jurists observed Israeli tolerance of Palestinian dissent. Dr. Davidson wrote: "it should be noted that on the website of International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), on whose judgment Isaac relies in this instance, can be found repeated condemnations of Israel’s “widespread and gross violations of human rights and international law.” Dr. Davidson concludes from this that Israel must indeed be engaged in widespread and gross violations of human rights and international law.
In my previous article I presented a report in which the ICJ presented the personal observations of their joint fact finding team with the World University Service. Those personal observations were that the Israelis showed tolerance toward Palestinian dissenters. The fact that they report these personal observations despite their beliefs regarding Israeli violations of human rights shows that those observations were not tainted by pro-Israel bias and therefore confirms the accuracy of their report. The problem with many organizations that pontificate about the Middle East is that they believe Palestinian allegations without verification. ICJ actually sent a verification mission, observed Israeli tolerance, yet continues to believe Palestinian allegations and to make charges based on them.
On May 15, 2005 Palestinians celebrated Al-Nakba (Catastrophe) Day, the day of birth of the Modern State of Israel. The Israeli army did nothing to stop it. That is extreme tolerance. Can anyone imagine Jews living in Syria demonstrating against the existence of that country and living to talk about it?
The True Cause of Conflict in the Middle East
In my article I wrote that the Palestinian economy boomed under the Israeli administration. Dr. Davidson asked if the economy boomed, then why are the Palestinian Arabs rebelling? The Arab Israel conflict is not about the economy. The conflict is about Jihad against the Jewish infidel. The late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran explained in 1980 that:
Our struggle is not about land or water, It is about bringing, by force if necessary, the whole of mankind onto the right path.
The fact that Jihad against the Jewish infidel is the true cause of conflict in the Middle East can be understood by viewing a sermon given by Sheikh Ibrahim Mudeiris on May 13, 2005 on Palestinian TV. Two of his salient points are:
1) The Jews have inherently evil
character traits and they are the killer of prophets.
2) God has predetermined that the Jewish problem will be solved with the extermination of the Jews.
3) Israel has no right to exist and will be destroyed.
Making the West believe that the conflict is about the land of Judea Samaria and Gaza is simply a propaganda tool. Before the 1967 war Israel did not control any of these areas yet the Palestinian Liberation Organization was formed in 1964. They couldn't have been formed to liberate areas from Israel that were not in Israeli control.
Article 24 of the 1964 Palestinian Charter states:
"This Organization does not exercise any territorial sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, on the Gaza Strip or in the Himmah Area."
What could be clearer than that? After the Israeli victory in 1967 in which Israel seized back Judea and Samaria from Jordan the Palestinian Charter was rewritten. The following are the first two articles of the new Palestinian charter.
Article 1: Palestine is the homeland of the Arab Palestinian
Article 2: Palestine, with the boundaries it had during the British Mandate, is an indivisible territorial unit.
The boundaries of the territory called "Palestine" during the British Mandate included the West Bank and Gaza, plus the rest of present day Israel. This means that in the 1968 Charter, the PLO did now begin claiming the West Bank and Gaza as "Palestinian" lands. Why the abrupt 180-degree reversal?
Francisco Gil White explains (Is the U.S. an Ally of Israel, A Chronological Look at the Evidence):
Because the year before, in 1967, after the surrounding Arab states had provoked a war with the goal of exterminating the Israeli Jews, the Israelis had emerged victorious, and had captured the West Bank and the Gaza strip. What this means is that there is no such thing as a fixed "Palestinian land" as far as the PLO is concerned; there is just land that Jews live on.
The Palestinians even admit that the conflict is about the land of Judea Samaria and Gaza is simply a propaganda tool. Zuheir Mohsein when he was a member of the supreme council of the PLO said (The Dutch Newspaper, Trouw March 31, 1977)
There are no differences between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. We are all part of one nation. It is only for political reasons that we carefully underline our Palestinian identity, because it is in the interest of the Arabs to encourage a separate Palestinian identity in contrast to Zionism. Yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity is there only for tactical reasons. The establishment of a Palestinian state is a new expedient to continue the fight against Zionism and for Arab unity
There are many more quotes by Arabs supporting Mr. Mohsein's statement.
The Israelis Say It Confirmation
One of Lawrence Davidson's arguments is that even the Israelis say that Israel is brutally occupying the Palestinians. There is no doubt that there are Israelis who do this. Haim Yavin, an Israeli television journalist said in May 2005,
"Since 1967 we have been brutal conquerors, occupiers, suppressing another people,"
According to Haaretz:
He filmed people who waited for hours at checkpoints and says this has no security justification...He believes in withdrawal so that a Palestinian state will be established and peace will come...in the first two films in a series of five, Yavin portrays the settlers as members of a fanatic, insane, racist, despicable, violent and dangerous sect ...
Haim Yavin believes that checkpoints are not necessary because he believes that if the Israelis would just withdraw from Judea and Samaria there would be peace and no need for checkpoints. According to his viewpoint checkpoints are a form of brutal suppression of the Palestinian people. He sees settlers as dangerous because he believes that the presence of settlers in Judea and Samaria is the reason there is no peace.
The fact that Dr. Davidson share's Haim Yavin's opinions does not mean that Haim Yavin's opinions are correct, it just means that they confirm Dr. Davidson's personal biases. It is interesting that when Israelis do not share Dr. Davidson's opinions such as Menachem Milsson and Ephraim Karsh he dismisses what they have to say by arguing that they are Israeli and therefore biased. This type of argument in which one dismisses what those with differing opinions have to say, based on who they are is known as an ad hominem attack. I have often encountered this type of argument when I quote Israelis. It exemplifies the worst kind of ethnophobic and false reasoning. The general argument is person A is a member of group B, group B can't be trusted, therefore what person A says has no validity and can be ignored. The assumption here that all members of group B can't be trusted is an unproven ethnophobic overgeneralization.
I have provided evidence both in my article (Truth or Propaganda) and in the articles posted on this web site that Haim Yavin's opinions are mistaken.
In order to understand why people like Mr. Yavin have the opinions they do, we need to understand that there is a strong incentive to believe his beliefs among Israelis. If Israelis view the conflict as a result of an implacable hatred of Islamists bent on world domination they have to accept that they will be victimized by terrorists for the forseeable future. On the other hand if they believe that peace is just around the corner if just those evil crazy fanatic settlers are uprooted and the occupation is ended, they don't have to believe in an eternity of war and terrorism.
Dr. Kenneth Levin, an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard medical school wrote a book titled The Oslo Syndrome, Delusions of a People Under Siege in which he explains:
Many Israelis, worn out by the siege, were eager to believe the peace camp's promises of an end to conflict achieved via self-reform - meaning, in this case, the relinquishment of all territorial claims, the suppression of specific Jewish-Zionist values and the creation of a Palestinian state in whatever borders were demanded. They were enticed by the view that Arab hostility was a function of Israel's misbehavior, and thus within Israel's power to palliate.
There are Israeli revisionist historians who go further than Haim Yavin, they don't just express opinions, they rewrite history to support those opinions. Uri Avnery parrotted this revisionist history when he said that Israel's existence was not threatened in 1967 and that Israel went to war for imperialist reasons. Sarah Honig in an article about the, The Six Day Fraud (Jerusalem Post 6/2/05) wrote:
Uri Avnery may believe that withdrawal from Judea and Samaria will bring peace and that fear of the annihilation of Israel is what prevents Israelis from withdrawing. If he argues that there was no existential threat to begin with he may hope that will lead Israelis to withdraw and peace to come.
"We were there. We know what our ears heard and our eyes saw. Even today, it's hard to shake off June 1967's Egyptian TV images of frenzied menacing multitudes marching down Cairo's streets hoisting black skull-and-crossbones banners (the skulls being ours), chanting ferociously for our extermination and demanding war."
Unfortunately willful delusionary thinking of this nature leads Israel to make concessions which reward and thus encourage terror. Israel's plan to withdraw from Gaza has led to an increase, not a decrease in rocket attacks against Gaza. Israeli withdrawal from Gaza makes Israel unable to stop the smuggling of weapons into Gaza from Egypt weapons that increase the chance of war. Delusionary thinking leads Israel to give up strategically important land which by weakening Israel invites war from the surrounding Arab states. Once the settlers are uprooted from Gaza the terrorist rocket attacks will resume in full force except now they will be against Israeli cities that have suffered relatively little such as Ashkelon. The pressure of the world will focus on getting Israel to withdraw from Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights. Bush already has said that Israel has to withdraw to the 1949 borders which American Generals have said our indefensible. If Israel succumbs to this pressure she will become extremely hard to defend and the temptation to destroy her will lead history to repeat itself and the Arab countries to unite once again to finish what they started in 1948.
Putting Words into My Mouth and Arguing with Them
Dr. Davidson wrote: "The assertion that, because nomadic tribes of monotheistic persuasion were roaming about the Palestine area thousands of years ago, twentieth century Jews have the right to ethnically cleanse the same region of its Arab population is ludicrous on the face of it." Never did I make such an assertion. There is no proposal in my article to ethnically cleanse anyone. In addition I provide substantial evidence in my article that there was a Jewish presence throughout history and not just thousands of years ago, evidence that Dr. Davidson ignores. Ignoring evidence that doesn't fit your confirmational biases, Dr. Davidson, does not make it go away. Putting words in my mouth Dr. Davidson that I have not said in order to discredit me is the desperate act of a propagandist who cannot refute what I actually said.
Dr. Davidson would like his readers to believe that Israel is ethnically cleansing the Arabs. There is ethnic cleansing going on in the Middle East as I write this. but not of Muslim Palestinians. Christians are fleeing oppression in Muslim controlled areas of Palestine. Jews are being uprooted from their homes in Gaza due to international pressure by governments confused by Arab propaganda and anxious to appease the Arab oil Sheikhs. For people who want to understand the situation in Gaza I recommend films that can be viewed online at the website of the Ariel Center for Policy Research. Why do Jews have to be ethnically cleansed from Gaza for peace Dr. Davidson? If the Arabs want peace with the Jews why can't they live side by side with the Jews Dr. Davidson? Why is ethnic cleansing of Jews OK? If Israel is ethnically cleansing Arabs why do so many Arabs live in Israel and why do so many choose to leave the Palestinian Authority controlled areas for Israel when given the chance? What do you think would happen to Jews foolish enough to live under the administration of the Palestinian Authority? I'll give you a hint. Do you remember what the Palestinians did to Joseph's tomb when they got control of it? Do you remember what happened to Israeli soldiers who took a wrong turn one day into Ramallah and had their guts torn out by an angry mob? Do you remember what happened to two boys Kobe Mandell and Yosef Ish Ran who went on a hike and were caught alone by Palestinian Arabs? Why are you not concerned with the fact that the Palestinian controlled areas have been ethnically cleansed of Jews, Dr. Davidson?
Davidson's Finkelstein Bible
In his article, Dr. Davidson writes:
"The claim that a good part of the Palestinian population are recent immigrants is a far fetched myth produced by Joan Peters in a now discredited 1984 work entitled From Time Immemorial. The evidence she used to support this claim has been refuted by Norman Finkelstein in his book Image and Reality of the Israeli-Palestine Conflict"
It is fitting that Dr. Davidson, who fabricates what I say would choose an author who fabricates information as well. According to Alan Dershowitz an author and professor of law at Harvard:
"He just makes up quotes, he makes up facts."
Norman Finkelstein accused Alan Dershowitz's of plagiarizing Joan Peter's book, From Time Immemorial in Dershowitz's book The Case For Israel even though 90% of the events described by Dershowitz occurred after the publication of Peter's book (Alan Dershowitz, The Hazards of Making the Case For Israel). The tactic of false baseless accusations makes for great propaganda that if repeated enough will be widely accepted even when debunked. His accusations led Harvard to investigate and the investigation showed the charge to be baseless. Professor Charles Fried, the former Solicitor General of the U.S. and the Beneficial Professor of Law at Harvard, called the Finkelstein accusation "stupid, unfair and ridiculous… from a biased accuser."(Lauren A. E. Schuker, "Dershowitz Defends Book," Harvard Crimson, October 2, 2003, p. A8.) Yet Finklestein's charges continue to circulate around the internet and people like Dr. Davidson continue to rely on him to bolster their spurious arguments. Norman Finklestein's hostility to Alan Dershowitz is so great that he said that Alan Dershowitz should be "targeted for assassination" because of his views on Israel. Dershowitz said in regard to Finklestein:
He totally distorts my positions, uses quotes out of context, and simply makes things up. He assumes that his readers will not have read the material he criticizes, because if they did, they would not recognize his characterizations of them. Indeed I challenge any reasonable reader to peruse my writings and then Finkelstein’s characterization of them and decide whether his characterizations are even close to what I actually said.
Dershowitz is not alone in his low opinion of Finkelstein. A NY Times’ reviewer described Finkelstein as “juvenile,” “arrogant,” and “stupid” (Aug. 6, 2000).
Peter Novick, the author of The Holocaust in American Life wrote regarding Finklestein (Peter Novick, "Offene Fenster und Tueren. Ueber Norman Finkelsteins Kreuzzug," in: Petra Steinberger (ed.): Die Finkelstein-Debatte, (Piper Verlag: Muenchen 2001), p. 159 (translated from German))
"As concerns particular assertions made by Finkelstein concerning reparations and restitution, and on other matters as well, the appropriate response is not (exhilarating) ‘debate’ but (tedious) examination of his footnotes. Such an examination reveals that many of those assertions are pure invention. […] No facts alleged by Finkelstein should be assumed to be really facts, no quotation in his book should be assumed to be accurate, without taking the time to carefully compare his claims with the sources he cites."
Gabriel Schoenfeld the senior editor of Commentary magazine has labeled Finklestein's views as (Gabriel Schoenfeld’s response to critics, "Holocaust Reparations," Commentary, January 2001, p. 20):
"crackpot ideas, some of them mirrored almost verbatim in the propaganda put out by neo-Nazis around the world."
To see just how crackpot Norman Finklestein's ideas as well as lies he has been caught telling the reader is invited to take a look at The Norman Finklestein Top 10 lists. Another excellent article that discusses Finkelstein's radicalism was written by Dr. Steve Plaut (Depaul U Confronts American Empire, frontpagemag.com 1/3/05).
Dr. Davidson, by resorting to sources such as these to defend his arguments, undermines them. He dismisses one of the most important books about the history of Israel, Joan Peter's book from Time Immemorial, as discredited and debunked because the contents of that book are so devastating to his confirmational biases.
Joan Peters was a reporter who was asked by Doubleday to write a book about the Middle East. She shared some of Dr. Davidson's misconceptions about the Middle East when she started but being an outstanding investigative reporter she dug up the truth and the more she dug up the more she realized how Arab propaganda had successfully duped the West about the Middle East. This was to understate the situation, a "big" story and Joan Peters spent 7 years of painstaking research in archives in libraries throughout the world for her book. Joan Peters was willing to give up her confirmational biases in the face of the evidence, the fact that Dr. Davidson is unwilling to do so despite the overwhelming evidence she uncovered raises the suspicion that he is not a serious scholar searching for truth but rather a propagandist with an agenda. Dr. Davidson has even openly admitted that he is a propagandist. If you're an academic and can't seem to get grant support become an Arab propagandist and all of a sudden your financial problems are over. Friendly Saudi businessmen may suddenly give you donations. Esposito is an example of that. His Center for Muslim Christian harmony is supported almost exclusively by a foundation headed by a Palestinian businessman with hostile views toward Israel whose president Hasib Sabbah is close to the Saudi royal family. The president's daughter contributed one million dollars for the Hasib Sabbagh wing of the center. (Infiltration by Paul Sperry page 98). Oh I forgot, Palestinians are poor oppressed people.
Islam Justifies Lying For the Cause
In my article Truth or Propaganda I presented evidence that the Muslims in the Middle East fabricate atrocity allegations against Israel to further their cause. Deception or al-taqiya is a formidable weapon. Paul Sperry in his book Infiltration wrote:
The Arab media often uses taqiya to cast Islam in the best light and the West in the worst light, severely distorting facts in the process, admits the editor of the London-based daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. Arab reporters believe "that lying for the sake of the cause is moral and honorable," says Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed.