Columnist uninformed on Gaza realities

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In his July 25 column, “Love your children, don’t condemn them to perpetual war,” Brian Jones shared his experience of being called a “rat Jew” when writing about the Middle East a few years ago. I agree with him that such comments are unsettling, disgusting, and counterproductive.
I strongly disagree, however, with his argument that the Palestinian people are responsible for their own oppression.

I attended the Solidarity with Gaza event, yet I do not accuse him of racism. Rather, I accuse him of being uninformed and spreading false explanations of the conflict.

Jones claims that the cause of the war is that “Palestinian leaders will not recognize Israel’s right to exist.”

However, Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) recognized that right since the 1970s. Of course, Jones’s arguments are about Hamas, not the PLO.

Well, “In early 2005, Hamas issued a document stating its goal of seeking a Palestinian state alongside Israel and recognizing the 1967 borders.”

The top Hamas officials stated the same in 2006, in 2008 when meeting with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and in 2009.

The information quoted above is from “The Top Ten Myths about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” by Jeremy Hammond. (

You should read it.

Myth #3 is “The Arabs missed an opportunity to have their own state in 1947.” This also happens to be the second to last point in Jones’s column.

As Hammond explains, the UN recommendation in 1947 “called for more than half of the land of Palestine” to go to Israel, despite the fact that Palestinians owned 85 per cent of the land at the time and made up about two-thirds of the population. “The truth is that no Arab could be reasonably expected to accept such an unjust proposal.”

Likewise with the breakdown of the Oslo Accord. How could Palestinians accept this accord when the number of Israeli settlers on Palestinian land doubled ( during the course of the negotiations?

Finally, Jones’s characterization of Palestine as bent on destroying Israel at all costs and Israel as simply defending itself does not square with the facts.

More than 1,000 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have died this month, while not even 60 Israelis have died.

Between 2000 and 2013, 1,523 Palestinian children were killed while Israeli lost 129. And over the past 70 years, Israel has stolen and occupied more than 85 per cent of Palestinian land.

After how many civilian casualties and how much land stolen would you admit that Israel is not defending itself but acting in denial of Palestine’s right to exist?

Jones finishes his column with a quote to sum up the war.

Here is another: “Our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians. ... all of us need to do more in supporting the struggle of the people of Palestine for self-determination.” — Nelson Mandela.

We can start by treating the facts fully and honestly, and informing our readers truthfully.

Daniel Miller

St. John’s

Organizations: Palestine Liberation Organization, Hamas, UN

Geographic location: Israel, Gaza, Palestine U.S.

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Recent comments

  • GINN
    August 01, 2014 - 13:06

    all of this correspondence, like the current .in Israel-Gaza, are " I don't believe you anyway" arguments . no one is listening , only shouting . Please God/ Allah it will eventually mean that they will at last go silent!

  • Paul James
    August 01, 2014 - 07:47

    to samuel J and others equally misinformed- this video is a 'must watch', interview with former head of the American Jewish Congress, a holocaust survivor, who tells it like it is...hardly an anti-semite or an Isreal hater... watch it, you might actually learn something.

  • Sympathy for the Devil
    July 31, 2014 - 23:22

    You said: "Well, “In early 2005, Hamas issued a document stating its goal of seeking a Palestinian state alongside Israel and recognizing the 1967 borders.” " Yes, and Hitler signed an agreement which said that he would not invade any other nations if Czechoslovakia gave him the Sudetenland. He didn't mean a word of what he said, either. Comparing numbers of casualties is foolish. It is obvious that Hamas actually desires civilian Palestinian casualties. They wouldn't be deliberately provoking a military response from Israel otherwise. They don't fire the rockets into Israel to kill Jews. They could kill Jews much easier than that if they wanted to. They fire rockets to provoke a response from Israel that kills Palestinians. They want Israel to be forced to the negotiating table and to have to give up more territory for empty promises. Hamas doesn't want to kill a lot of Jews because it would lessen the international "outrage" against Israel. People would see Israel's response as entirely just in such case. As it is now, people don't see firing "rockets" as much of a problem because few Jews are killed. Hamas sees the deaths of their own citizens in this conflict as collateral damage. To them, the end (the destruction of Israel) justifies the means (intentionally placing civilians in harms way).

  • ed sullivan
    July 31, 2014 - 22:19

    In regard to the letter by Daniel Miller. You sir as do all left leaning idiots, twist the absolute truth of the matter in an attempt to re-write history. Go there see for yourself what is going on, I did , and read the Koran. having spent most of my life in the Military, I can assure you that living in a Moslem country is an experience you will never forget.

    • Abdul Saieed
      August 01, 2014 - 07:12

      It's spelt Muslim. 'Moslem' is derogative and offensive. Uless that is what you were going for. Oh, and I did live in a Muslim country, but not as an invader. So what's your point?

    • Invasion
      August 01, 2014 - 08:26

      Abdul: Firstly, I am not surprised that something written by a westerner offended a Muslim. Secondly, because "Ed" served in the military this does not make him an invader. Was Afghanistan invaded? The military was there to fight the cruel and oppressive Taliban and had the consent of the Afghanistan government. The fruits show that Islam is not a religion of peace, though there are people who are muslims that do genuinely desire peace.

    • Abdul Saieed
      August 01, 2014 - 09:04

      I'm not surprised that something written by a westerner offended a Muslim either, as Islamophobia is implicitly encouraged in the western governments and the media. And yes, Afghanistan was invaded, a fact accepted by everyone involved, not to fight the Taliban, but, ostensibly to oust Al-Qaida -- which it ended up strengthening and expanding. There were peaceful options that the Americans refused to consider and went largely unreported in the North American Press.

  • paul
    July 31, 2014 - 11:22

    another thing that escapes the media's attention , and many of the pro-Israel camp..when the cry foul that Hamas will not recognise Israel's right to exist...two things, 1. Hamas is a party, not the government (Eventual government of a free Palestinian state) it woudl behoove the 'government' to recognise Israel or not, not a party that might be a part of it. 2. Israel does not recognise Palestinians right to exist...Likud and other dominant parties in the government have a mandate to ensure there will never be a state of Palestine...can someone say this is not so? the hypocracy is astounding...and the fact that our government can support it blindly and our media can not pick up on it.

  • Dolf
    July 31, 2014 - 10:32

    Right on Dennis. I've lost count of the number of U.S. Secretaries of State the Middle East Peace Process has chewed up and spit out.

  • Samuel J.
    July 31, 2014 - 10:04

    You know of course, Daniel, that the statements you ascribe to Hamas were immediately repudiated. Hamas even threatened to sue that media that printed them. The Hamas Charter, which has remained unchanged since its inception in 1988, calls for the obliteration of Israel. Article 13 states there will be no negotiated settlement and that jihad is its only answer. Like some others, you fall into the trap of declaring Israel the aggressor merely because it suffers fewer casualties than those committed to its destruction. Fortunately for Israel, the blind hatred of it by Hamas and indeed much of the Muslim world is not matched by its intelligence, technological capabilities and military prowess. For more than half a century Israel has methodically invested in its own defence, including compulsory military service for men and women over 18. Critics point to supports Israel has received from the West, but that support pales in comparison to the ability of certain well-heeled, oil rich Arab nations to fund wars, jihads and terrorist activities. Conversely, we know that the high rate of civilian casualties in Gaza is part of a deliberate strategy by Hamas to court international sympathy. It does not place a high value on human life. It habitually fires rockets at Israel from mosques, hospitals and schools in hopes of drawing return fire that in turn will provide international correspondents with their daily quota of dead women and children. The Arab world - and the Palestinian Authority in particular - have had many opportunities in the last 60 years to negotiate the creation of a Palestinian state and to secure a lasting peace with Israel. But as my grandmother used to say, there are those who would rather curse the dark than turn on the light. The point, I believe, Jones was making is there is now an ingrained culture of hate passed down from generation to generation which stands in the way of peace. Hamas is now the tail that wags the anti-Israeli dog. It's pretty clear that it was the instigator in this most recent round of fighting. The rockets and tunnels constitute a serious threat to Israeli security. The kidnapping, torture and murder of the three teens was doubtless designed to poke the cat. This is the perspective of most objective observers around the world. But none of this is to excuse the killing of women and children accidentally or otherwise. Israel must find a better way to neutralize Hamas than by returning fire on densely populated areas of Gaza. It should quickly conclude the task of destroying the tunnels used by terrorists and pull its troops back from Gaza. It should decline to fire missiles at any Gaza site where it is not certain to avoid killing innocent victims - even when provoked to do so by Hamas rocket attacks. It should continue to rely on its 'Iron Dome' to protect it from such attacks. And it should rely on intelligence to identify the attackers and to deal with them in a way less likely to cause collateral damage. The West is right to support Israel but that should not include an unlimited license to kill.

    • Jeff
      July 31, 2014 - 13:00

      Paul makes a succinct argument that Israel has refused to recgonise right of Palestinian’s to exist, not only in words -- and there have been plenty of them from the Lukid Party and others -- but by their very actions that reek of a gradual genocide. It is difficult to see how destroying hospitals and schools is an act of self-defense. Claims that Hamas is hiding weapons there have proven unsubstantiated. Likewise, so has the human shield argument. These "opportunities" to have an independent Palestinian state have all contained a poison pill of one kind or another that Israel and the US know Palestinians will never swallow. As to the three teens that were murdered, all the evidence points to extremists not affiliated with Hamas as carrying out these orders. It is also commonly know that the IDF knew this from the get-go and also knew the boys were long dead. If Israel wants to ensure its security, as it claims, these recent weeks have done nothing to earn it any sympathy with those Palestinians who may have had no love for Hamas. Its continual thumbing its nose at the Geneva Convention, the UN and the international community does nothing for its reputation either.

    • paul
      July 31, 2014 - 13:44

      samual j- Israel refuses to deal with Hamas because its a 'terrorist' organization...yet Isreals founding fathers were terrorists...Irgun, the Stern Gang, Hagana, the Israeli Army, routinely ordered the mass execution of civilians, to terrorize the rest of them into fleeing...can you say this is not so? also, it is commonly excused by Israel as necessary to the formation of their state...then, if it was okay for Israel, how is it not okay for Palestinians? I don't support indiscriminate rocket firing but I do see the f-ing huge double standard and hypocracy. so , if the Israelis can do it, why not Hamas?

    • Samuel J.
      July 31, 2014 - 16:53

      (1) There is a difference between refusing to recognize a state and vowing to destroy it. (2) 'Last week the UN agency for Palestinian refugees announced it had found 20 missiles stored at a vacant school in Gaza.' Washington Post. Videos released by Hamas itself show rockets being fired from mosques and residential areas (wikipedia) (3) I have argued that Israel's targeting of schools and hospitals (which it denies) is unacceptable - even if in response to Hamas attacks from those same sites. (4) Israel is the victim - not the perpetrator - of genocide. Population in the Palestinian territories is growing at double that of Israel. (5) Israeli Security, with the help of Palestinian police, identified two suspects in the kidnapping/murders. Both are members of Hamas. Hamas political chief wouldn't confirm or deny Hamas involvement but publicly congratulated the abductors. (6) Paul - like the writer of the letter Daniel - reaches back a half century or more to find justification for Hamas continued attacks on Israel. History is full of wars, pogroms and other injustices to people of all race and religions. Groups like Hamas need to put aside old grudges and deal with modern day reality. They can choose peace or they can perpetuate a hatred that leads only to more death and destruction. My guess is they will choose the latter.

    • Abdul Saieed
      August 01, 2014 - 07:30

      The modern day reality is a direct result of decades of oppression, hostage taking, torture, land confiscation, state terrorism, genocide and isolationism: all of which have been confirmed by the UN, B'Tselem, and Human Rights Watch.

    • paul
      August 01, 2014 - 07:43

      samj- the reasons for hamas attack do go back half century or so, but they have been continuos ever try living behind walls, under a blockade...looking across the valley at where you used to live but were driven out at the barrel of a gun (or your parents/grand parents were)...its ongoing. as for committing genocide... how is it that killing 3 civilians and 50+ soldiers is genocide? the rockets are 'terrorism' but not genocide...yet Israel has killed over 1000 Gazans, 80% civilians, with the most sophiticated weapons in the world...and this is not genocide? the people in Gaza have no where to go or hide, it is shooting fish in a barrel.

    • Jeff
      August 01, 2014 - 09:09

      Israel has an unlimited license to kill as issued by itself, the US, Canada, and other supporters. Just blame Hamas, and let the bombs fall with impunity. Oh, just don't mention the occupation -- that's old news.

  • Dennis
    July 31, 2014 - 07:09

    Don't cloud the issue with facts!

    • A stupid Newfie
      July 31, 2014 - 10:13

      Don't worry. When someone reads this to seanoaircadet the personal attacks will begin. He shouts and his literate case worker types I think?

    • Dennis
      July 31, 2014 - 13:02

      He's probably out at the cockfights.

    • seanoairborne
      July 31, 2014 - 15:29

      You said that I would attack when I read this article by name calling and you started your drivel with name calling! Talk about stupid Newfs! You're the poster BOY for them! Samual J speaks for me, and very well I may add!! He framed the whole argument intelligently, and with facts, the way I would have framed them, but he saved me from having to educate and inform a couple of brain dead Newfies, living not only on the rock, but under a rock like you, "DENICE" and your fellow travellers of my stance on this issue!!!! I am indebted to Samual for his eloquence in speech, his excellent analytical skills and his well thought out arguments to all the dunces of the world! He saved me the headache, and time, of having to explain my position, once again, to the mentally unstable and Pro-Palestinian knaves on here like you , "Denice" and your fellow un-informed Newfie Nincompoops!