Tuesday, January 27, 2009

CAMERA's Critique of Bob Simon's "60 Minutes" Program

In the January 25th episode of CBS's 60 Minutes, correspondent Bob Simon teamed up with Palestinian politician and partisan Mustafa Barghouti in a segment entitled "Is Peace Out of Reach," to promote the Palestinian view of the Arab-Israeli conflict, which heaps blame on Israel and exculpates the Palestinians for lack of peace. He ignores the Palestinians' responsibility for their own situation and reduces everything to a two-dimensional, villain-and-victim scenario, with Israel cast in the role of villain and Palestinians in the part of victim.

To support this one-sided and extremely distorted view, CBS gives a welcoming platform to Palestinians and other harsh critics of Israel. The Israeli perspective, by contrast, is given a fraction of the time. And most of that time is devoted to an Israeli settler leader whose views represent neither the Israeli mainstream, the Israeli government or even most of the settlers.

But the program itself is much more lopsided than even the imbalance of speakers indicates, since correspondent Bob Simon — whose voice dominates the segment — clearly sides with the "blame Israel" chorus.

While parroting Palestinian talking points and accepting without challenge the most extreme Palestinian anti-Israel propaganda (e.g. the slur that Israel practices apartheid and that settlements are like "crusader fortresses"), Simon overlooks recent history and key events and at one point even heckles an Israeli soldier as if in a schoolyard argument. ("Have you lost your voice?," he contemptuously asks an Israeli soldier who is seemingly not authorized or prepared to speak with the press.)


The entire premise of Bob Simon's segment — that the key to solving the Arab-Israeli conflict lies entirely with the Israelis, who make peace impossible by building settlements in the West Bank — is false and devoid of connection to recent history.

Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip and dismantled all of its settlements there. The Gaza disengagement, though, did not bring peace to Israel's south, but rather the opposite. What makes Simon think a similar withdrawal from areas closer to Israel' s major cities won't bring even more violence? And why does he also ignore reasonable Israeli concerns that if it withdrew from the West Bank "Hamas would take over the institutions and apparatuses of the Palestinian Authority within days"?

Simon also ignores the fact that the Palestinians were offered, in exchange for peace, a state eight years ago in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. They not only failed to accept the peace offer, but chose a terror war against Israel instead. Had they accepted the offer, the Palestinians would have a state, settlements deep inside the West Bank would be gone, and, the hope was, Palestinian terrorism that fuels the conflict would be reined in. Instead, Palestinian terrorism prompted Israeli defensive measures, and thus changed the face of the West Bank.

They not only failed to accept the peace offer, but chose a terror war against Israel instead. Had they accepted the offer, the Palestinians would have a state, settlements deep inside the West Bank would be gone, and, the hope was, Palestinian terrorism that fuels the conflict would be reigned in. Instead, Palestinian terrorism prompted Israeli defensive measures, and thus changed the face of the West Bank.


Just as Simon ignores Israel's offer to dismantle settlements and create a Palestinian state, he also ignores the violence that followed Palestinian rejection of the offer. The words "terror," "terrorism" or "terrorist" do not appear even once in the transcript of the segment. Nor do the words "violence," "war," "gunmen," "militants," "attacker," or "suicide bombers."

The one reference to guns during the 60 Minutes segment, in fact, was Simon's assertion that "the Israelis," as opposed to the Palestinians, "have the guns." The one reference to "security" was Mustafa Barghouti's claim that most Israeli checkpoints cannot be justified by security concerns.

Although Simon ignores Palestinian violence against Israel, he nonetheless faults Israeli response to the violence. Stripped of its context, Israel's attempts to protect its civilians is framed as gratuitously causing inconvenience, oppression, and "humiliation" to Palestinians.

The security barrier (which Simon absurdly says Israel refers to as a "wall") is said to "appropriate" land and "separat[e] farmers from their land." But its essential purpose, to protect Israelis and prevent suicide bombers from reaching their targets, is ignored. Likewise, Simon describes checkpoints as "humiliating," and allows Barghouti to allege that they primarily exist "to block the movement of people from one place to another," but fails to reference the number of Palestinian attacks that they prevented, and fails to mention that, like the barrier, most checkpoints didn't exist before the Palestinians initiated their war of terror in late 2000.

(CAMERA recently examined incidents at one checkpoint, the Hawara over the course of one month, October 2008. on October 5, a Palestinian was stopped carrying a suspicious parcel containing two pipe bombs; on October 12, a female soldier prevented an attack when she discovered nine pipe bombs in the bags of three Palestinian traveling companions; on the following day, soldiers stopped a man who was trying to cross the checkpoint with explosive devices. He was shot and lightly wounded as he tried to escape in a get-away car; on October 15, soldiers confiscated a 10 cm knife from a man trying to pass through the checkpoint; a week later on October 22, the checkpoint was temporarily closed as a 17-year-old youth was detained with several firebombs and an explosive device. On October 25, a Palestinian youth was taken for questioning after soldiers found a pipe bomb in his bag.)


Likewise, Israel's periodic use of a strategically-located Palestinian home in Nablus owned by the Nassif family, which is discussed at length in the segment, can't be understood in a vacuum. After Simon and the Palestinian residents slam Israel for taking over the upper floors of the house on certain days, the CBS correspondent's paraphrasing of a brief statement by Israel — he said that "an army spokesperson told us the army uses the Nassif's house for important surveillance operations" — does little to explain Israel's concerns and rationale.

Israel sees Nablus as a continuing hotbed of terrorist efforts and the central district of the West Bank from which attempted attacks on Israel emanate. According to the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, in 2007 the Hamas networks in Samaria, especially in the Nablus region, were defined by the Israel Security Agency as dangerous and working avidly to rehabilitate themselves after the damage done by Operation Defensive Shield. In 2007 a series of counterterrorist activities was directed against the networks including the detention of many operatives, some of them senior.

(See, e.g., here and here) The terrorist activity and murder of hundreds of Israelis in 2001-2003 has been dramatically diminished through a combination of the security barrier and intense, round-the-clock vigilance inside the West Bank. Because much of Nablus lies in a valley, Israel can survey the camps, casbah and city below from strategic hills, and this surveillance sometimes entails using private homes. IDF soldiers are instructed not to harm anyone or to damage property.

Even the BBC, which is not generally regarded as sympathetic to Israel, alerted its readers to Israel's position in a more journalistically responsible manner. In a piece about the house, a reporter notes:

Over the last six years, the Israeli army has made frequent incursions into the city, to arrest and kill militants. When it does, the soldiers often return to bang on Mr Nasif's door. ...

Nablus does have a history of militancy. In the past, perpetrators of bombings in which Israeli civilians were killed, came from the city.

Although those attacks have dramatically decreased in number over recent years, the army says that does not mean attacks are not still being planned. That is why it says it needs to keep on making its raids into Nablus.

In other words, unlike 60 Minutes, the BBC acknowledges that the murder of Israeli civilians, and Israel's attempts to act against potential killers, is an essential part of the story.


As with his discussion of the West Bank, Simon misleads viewers to present Palestinians in Jerusalem as blameless victims of Israeli oppression:

The army is evicting Arabs from their homes in East Jerusalem, which Palestinians hoped to make their capital. Outraged, Arabs tried to save their homes, but the Israelis have the guns. Israel demolished more than 100 Arab homes in the past year, ruling they'd been illegally built. Arabs say this is just another tactic to drive them out.

"Drive them out"? Under Israeli control, the Arab population of eastern Jerusalem has increased dramatically, and in fact grew much faster than the Jewish population of western Jerusalem. And Israel also demolishes illegal structures in western Jerusalem. Does this mean it is trying to "drive out" Jews from Jerusalem? And Palestinians themselves have also demolished illegal homes under their control. Would CBS take seriously allegations that the Palestinian Authority is trying to "drive out" Palestinians from Gaza because it demolished illegal building?


Simon abandoned all pretense of journalistic impartiality with prejudicial language that clearly echoed Palestinian allegations. For example, he talked of Israelis "slic[ing] up [land on which] Palestinians had hoped to establish their state"; of Palestinians having to "submit to humiliating delays at checkpoints"; of Israeli settlements "dominating the lowlands like crusader fortresses"; of Israeli soldiers who "corral" Palestinians as they requisition their houses for security reason. He similarly championed and emphasized the Palestinian spokesman's claims, as well, telling viewers "here's what [Barghouti] is up against"; and "Here's how they block Barghouti."

By contrast, he shows utter contempt toward an Israeli soldier, heckling him: "Why don't you tell us what you're doing here? Have you lost your voice?"

Moreover, Simon did much on his own to mislead viewers. Here is one typical statement by the correspondent:

Palestinians had hoped to establish their state here on the West Bank, an area the size of Delaware. But Israelis have sliced it up with scores of settlements and hundreds of miles of new highways that only settlers can use. Palestinians have to drive or ride on the older roads. When they want to travel from one town to another, they have to submit to humiliating delays at checkpoints and roadblocks. There are more than 600 of them on the West Bank.

Here, in just a few seconds of monologue, Simon falsely asserted that there are "hundreds of miles of new highways that only settlers can use" (in fact all Israelis, whether Jewish or Arab, Christian or Muslim, can use Israel's bypass roads, as can West Bank Palestinians who are believed to pose no threat to commuters); that Israelis prevented a Palestinian state because they "sliced ... up" the West Bank (in fact, as mentioned above, the lack of a Palestinian state is not because Israel "sliced up" — as Bob Simon and pro-Palestinian activists describe it — the West Bank, but because they rejected a state, started a terror war, and used territory abandon by Israel as a base for deadly attacks); and relayed the Palestinian view of checkpoints as "humiliating" while ignoring the fact that Palestinians' violent rejection of a state prompted most of the checkpoints).


Simon carefully chose his guests to bolster his points, guaranteeing a warped picture of the conflict to accompany a skewed narration.

Mustapha Barghouti is quoted and paraphrased more than any other guest and is given an unchallenged platform to level a variety of extreme charges. Referring to him only as a "former candidate for Palestinian president" Simon gives no hint that he is a long-time partisan whose statements are often patently false and propagandistic – notwithstanding his role as a PA legislator.

* Commenting on the death of arch-terrorist George Habash, founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and mastermind of airplane bombings and hijackings, the Lod Airport massacre and the Entebbe hijacking, Barghouti praised the PFLP leader who he said left a legacy of "loyalty to the Palestinian cause in a very principled manner – honest, clean politics and great devotion to the Palestinian cause and to humanity." (Jerusalem Post Jan 29, 2008)

* On Dec 30 as the Gaza conflict erupted he stated on CNN that not a "single" Israeli had been killed since Dec 27, when in fact four had been killed.

* On CNN, he charged that Israel had broken the June 2008 cease-fire, when the Palestinians had broken it repeatedly by with the firing of rockets, mortars and light arms and with attempted infiltrations aimed at abducting Israelis.

* Barghouti's lies sometimes catch up with him as, for example, when the San Francisco Chronicle had to correct an absurd allegation he made that Israel's security barrier "was claiming 58% of the West Bank."

Barghouti and Simon lament that Barghouti cannot "ever" enter Jerusalem, implying he's barred because he moved away from the city. But Simon does not bother to investigate. Barghouti has been arrested several times for violating agreements not to engage in political electioneering in Jerusalem without a permit, and according to London's Independent (Jan. 8, 2005), he has deliberately "sought confrontations with the security forces as a tactic to gain badly needed publicity." Moreover, after an arrest in January 2006, he was ordered by Jerusalem police to stay out of Jerusalem for the next 30 days (Jerusalem Post, Jan. 4, 2006) -- not as Simon claims "forever." Apparently, the story is more complicated than the 60 Minutes host implies.

The Nassif family is granted almost as much time as Barghouti to give their view of events at their home overlooking Nablus, a sharp contrast with the ultra-brief paraphrased Israeli comment that "important surveillance operations" occur from the house.

Daniella Weiss, resident of the West Bank, is presented as a counterweight to Barghouti and voice for the settlement movement. Yet she represents the most extreme position of Israeli settler opinion, has sparred with settler leadership and advocates for illegal outposts – all of which are not positions of the vast majority of Israelis and Israeli settlers. Casting her comments as representative produces a highly distorted picture of settlements, ignoring the relevant legal, historical and religious issues.

Meron Benvenisti is identified as a supposedly "moderate" Israeli; but his stated views are far from moderate. He claims Israelis are not actually victims of Arab violence, but that "Jewish immigrants settled on the lands of Arab natives, met with violent resistance and responded as if they were the victims and the natives the aggressors" (The Nation, June 18, 2007). In the August 7, 2003 Ha'aretz, he wrote: "... the basic story here is not one of two national movements that are confronting each other; the basic story is that of natives and settlers." (Like Hamas extremists, he uses "settlers" here to refer to all Israelis, not just those living in the West Bank.)

He even claims Israel is worse in some respects than apartheid South Africa and he argues for a single binational state over the entirety of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip — a proposal far outside the Israeli political mainstream.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is very briefly interviewed, representing the official voice of Israel. She is only quoted discussing the possible need to remove settlements. If she commented on the need for checkpoints and other security measures or other context, it didn' t make it on the air.

By the way, you can contact 60 Minutes by:
a) E-mailing: 60m@cbsnews.com
b) Submitting a complaint online by clicking here and selecting 60 Minutes from the drop down menu.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Shalom ...I saw Bob Simon on Charlie Rose and everuything was rosey with the other side. Israel was looked at in dark ways.

How can these well studied reporters/opinionaters not look at the history? How can they play a role of gathering and planting seeds of discord, wrong, and misinformation of the Israeli people? I would guess there are reasons that might be disgusting to discover. I enjoyed Bob and Charlie's words..I will have to realy reconsider...Shalom

hedgehoghr said...

Thank you for this clear-sighted overview of the program. I too was utterly dismayed by it.
I have forwarded this blog to some people, asking them to lodge a complaint with CBS (using the link
you provide).



YMedad said...

Glad to be of help. By the way, I was originally scheduled to be on the program and Bob called me from NY to arrange it as he had done an interview with me some years ago and wanted to show the growth out at Shiloh. But I presume a more radical, wild-eyed "settler" is better for his agenda rather than the many tens and tens of thousands that are quite like you and your friends.

galia said...

I liked it. It's not so often that american television presents the other side of the story.
I was also "utterly dismayed" when i heard that israeli soldiers just come and sleep in other people's bedroom. Who do they think they are?
Lots of people I know are sending thank you emails to Bob.

YMedad said...

Since my son has served as an elite recon soldier in Shchem (Nablus), I know that standing orders are not to sleep anywhere but in the living room if needed. Thet ussually pile all furniture in one corner but, I am sure that being 19-21 yr. olds, there is going to be ill discipline at times. I understand that in the States, kids bust up malls, football stadiums and basketball courts ometimes and that in colleges, they still have, what, panty raids and even, hazing.

galia said...

So if some Palestinian soldiers will come to your home and just take your bedroom without even asking and will sleep there and then on top of that don't let you to leave to work, you won't oppose that?

galia said...

And seriously your excuse for that is "let kids have fun"?

YMedad said...

not if I was a terrorist who cared for his family

galia said...

The guy works in a bank!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Is every Palestinian a terrorist for you?

Anonymous said...

To claim that the settler in the show represents an extreme sample of the Israeli society is similar to claiming that Bin Laden is an extreme case of Islamic violent groups. Settlers are a large segment in the Israeli society, they represent Zionism and they are incredibly racist. The Palestinians reserve the right to fight any occupying force just like Americans or any other nation that fights foreign occupation. These soldiers have no business busting into Palestinian homes or being anywhere in the Palestinian areas in the first place. Bob Simon highlighted the insanity of what the Israelis are putting the Palestinians through.

YMedad said...

Anon.: you're factually wrong but why should that bother you (and who's the racist?}

Anonymous said...

Do you agree if some soldiers will come take your house and bedroom when you are sleeping with kids and wife?

I also read one of the report that Jewish soldiers enter one of the palastine home and ask the mother to choose five kids and give them to Israel. They kills the 5 kids infront of the mother while the mother scream.

YMedad said...

Then you must believe in the tooth-fairy, the wicked witch of the North and Santa Claus, too.

galia said...

Are all this people liars too? Or Jew haters?
Israeli troops killed Gaza children carrying white flag, witnesses say

01.27.2009 | McClatchydc.com
By Dion Nissenbaum | McClatchy Newspapers

EZBT ABED RABBO, Gaza Strip — Nasser Abu Freeh was one of the first to see the Israeli soldiers as they entered this pastoral Gaza neighborhood overlooking the Israeli border on Jan. 3, hours after the Israeli government ordered the first ground forces into Gaza.

Abu Freeh's two-story hilltop home is a favorite spot for Israeli soldiers, who used it as a command post during three previous attempts to deter Gaza militants from firing crude rockets into Israel from the surrounding cattle farms, orange groves and dirt alleys.

Scouts from the militant Islamist group Hamas also favored the hilltop as a place to watch for approaching Israeli soldiers, and the fighters tried to lure the Israelis into a trap by planting land mines outside Abu Freeh's home.

As the Israelis moved in, neighbors said, the Hamas scouts put up little resistance and quickly fell back into the more densely populated part of the neighborhood.

Within hours, the Israeli soldiers took over Abu Freeh's house, moved the seven people living there into one room and began interrogating the adults. The questioners were angry because one of their soldiers had been killed nearby in the early hours of the ground offensive, and they wanted to know what traps Hamas had set for the Israeli forces.

"Where are the tunnels?" Abu Freeh said the soldiers asked in Arabic. "I will kill you if you don't tell me."

Israeli tanks and bulldozers soon took up hilltop positions around Abu Freeh's home, and Khaled Abed Rabbo's five-story house in the valley below was one of those in the line of fire.

More than 70 members of his family crowded into one apartment for days. On Jan. 7, Abed Rabbo said, the shelling intensified, and they heard an Israeli solider calling for people to come out of their homes.

Abed Rabbo said he gathered his wife, their three daughters and his mother, Souad. Souad Abed Rabbo said that she tied a white robe around a mop handle and two of her granddaughters waved white headscarves as they walked outside.

When they opened the door, they saw an Israeli tank parked in their garden about 10 yards away.

"We were waiting for them to give us an order," Khaled said last week as he stood in the ruins of his home. "Then one came out of the tank and started to shoot."

Souad Abed Rabbo said she was shot as she pushed her son back inside and her granddaughters fell on the stairs. When the shooting was over, she said, 2-year-old Amal and 7-year-old Souad were dead.

The allegation is one of at least five such white flag incidents that human rights investigators are looking into across the Gaza Strip. It's part of a growing pattern of alleged abuses that have raised concerns that some Israeli soldiers may have committed war crimes during their 22-day military campaign in Gaza.

"The evidence we've gathered in two of the cases so far is exceedingly strong," said Fred Abrahams, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch working in the Gaza Strip. "All the research so far suggests they shot civilians that were leaving their homes with white flags."

Along with the white flag incidents, Human Rights Watch is calling for an international investigation into widespread charges that Israel prevented medical teams from helping wounded Palestinians trapped in their homes and needlessly demolished hundreds of houses, including dozens in Ezbt Abed Rabbo.

"This was not a rogue unit," said Abrahams. "The needless civilian deaths resulted from concrete decisions made by the military."

The Israeli military, which Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called "the most moral army in the world," said it's investigating the increasing number of war crimes allegations, but it rejected any suggestion that its soldiers had targeted civilians.

"IDF forces have clear firing orders," the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement in response to questions from McClatchy. "But in the complex situation in which fighting takes place inside towns and cities, placing our forces also at great risk, civilian casualties are regrettably possible."

Throughout the war, Israeli officials said Hamas militants put Palestinian civilians in danger by booby-trapping homes and firing on soldiers from crowded buildings.

However, residents living near Khaled Abed Rabbo all said that Hamas forces quickly abandoned the outlying neighborhood once the Israeli forces took over.

With his daughters bleeding to death, Abed Rabbo said, the family screamed for help.

Samieh al Sheik, an ambulance driver who lived in an adjacent home, heard the shouting. Without thinking about what could be waiting outside, Sheik said he ran to his ambulance, turned on the emergency lights and drove toward the screams.

As he turned the corner and headed for Abed Rabbo's home, Sheik said he came face-to-face with the Israeli tank unit. The soldiers ordered him to get out of the ambulance and told him to walk straight out of the neighborhood.

"I didn't see what happened to the family that day because I couldn't reach them," said Sheik, who returned to find the ambulance crushed under a demolished building.

Faced with his dying children, Abed Rabbo gathered up the wounded and sought to escape, even if the Israelis opened fire.

With Israeli soldiers shooting at the ground near their feet, Abed Rabbo said, the family walked more than a mile to the main road, where they finally found help. His surviving 4-year-old daughter, Samer, was one of the few to be allowed out of Gaza to receive special medical care in Brussels.

Halima Badwan was less fortunate. As Abed Rabbo rushed his surviving daughter to the hospital, she lay dying in a house nearby.

Halima and her husband, Ahmed, a retired 63-year-old Palestinian Authority general, were among nine people who'd gathered in one room during the fighting. The previous day, Ahmed Badwan said, a tank round had smashed into the room, killing a neighbor and seriously injuring his wife.

Badwan didn't think he could carry his wife to safety. Red Cross officials in Gaza said that Israeli military officials repeatedly denied their requests to send medical teams to the neighborhood.

So, when the Israeli military began declaring a short "humanitarian pause" to the shooting each day, Badwan said he took his wife's gold necklace and left her lying nearly unconscious in the ruins of their home.

As he walked out of his neighborhood, Badwan said, he stopped at a nearby ambulance station and asked for help. The International Committee for the Red Cross was powerless to do anything.

Iyad Nasr, a Red Cross spokesman in Gaza, said Israeli soldiers had fired at ambulances that tried to reach some areas, even when medical officials had received approval from the Israeli military to enter certain neighborhoods.

"Our request for Ezbt Abed Rabbo was just pending and pending and pending and pending day after day," Nasr said.

Israel's widespread denial of access to medical crews in Gaza appears to be a breach of humanitarian law, said Yuval Shany, a legal scholar at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

"In international law, there is obligation to facilitate access to the wounded and even to treat the wounded," Shany said. "In this area, I think there was a deviation from the international standard and this should be investigated."

When Badwan, Abed Rabbo and scores of other residents of Ezbt Abed Rabbo finally returned to their neighborhood after Israel declared a unilateral cease-fire on Jan. 17, they were stunned to discover that their neighborhood was reduced to rubble.

Using bulldozers, tank shelling and explosives placed in the houses, the Israeli military had leveled entire blocks of homes.

Badwan found his wife's body buried under the rubble of their building.

The destruction didn't come as a complete surprise to Taysir Abed Rabbo, who lived in a two-story home near Badwan's that Israeli soldiers had used as a temporary post.

Abed Rabbo, a member of the Palestinian Authority presidential guard, was among dozens of men who were rounded up nearly a year ago during an operation called Operation Warm Winter and taken to Israel for interrogation.

The interrogators gave Abed Rabbo a prophetic warning.

"They said if we did not stop the rocket fire, they planned to make this area 'a red area,'" said Abed Rabbo, who said he wasn't sure at the time what the Israelis meant.

Israeli leaders are moving swiftly to insulate their soldiers from any penalties for their actions during the offensive, which left more than 1,200 Palestinians dead, destroyed more than 4,000 buildings and caused $2 billion in damage.

The Israeli military has barred reporters from printing the names of military leaders who took part in the Gaza campaign, known as Operation Cast Lead, and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has created a legal defense unit to protect any soldiers accused of war crimes.

In a defense of his military on Sunday, Olmert accused Israel's critics of using "moral acrobatics" to question Israel for using its military to try to halt the Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza that's killed 12 people since September 2005.

"The soldiers and commanders who were sent on missions in Gaza must know that they are safe from various tribunals, and that the State of Israel will assist them on this issue and defend them just as they bodily defended us during Operation Cast Lead," Olmert said.

While human rights groups are investigating the allegations, Shany said, Israeli leaders should take the lead and investigate allegations of wrongdoing.

"It makes sense to try to protect the soldiers, but it would also make sense to investigate where needed," Shany said. "They should investigate, and when actions were justifiable they should protect, and when not, they should prosecute."

(Special correspondent Cliff Churgin contributed to this article from Jerusalem.)


Anonymous said...


Thanks for throwing in the link to Norman Finkelstein's web site -- I was going to actually try and engage you, but if you're a fan of that man, I fear it's pointless.

To others who are concerned and confused by an Israeli staying in someone's house during a mission, this letter published in Ma'ariv might help you understand the other side -- if you have any interest in doing so.
An Open Letter to A citizen Of Gaza:
I Am the Soldier Who Slept In Your Home:
By: Yishai G (reserve soldier)
[Originally published in Hebrew in Maariv]


While the world watches the ruins in Gaza, you return to your home which remains standing. However, I am sure that it is clear to you that someone was in your home while you were away.

I am that someone.

I spent long hours imagining how you would react when you walked into your home. How you would feel when you understood that IDF soldiers had slept on your mattresses and used your blankets to keep warm.

I knew that it would make you angry and sad and that you would feel this violation of the most intimate areas of your life by those defined as your enemies, with stinging humiliation. I am convinced that you hate me with unbridled hatred, and you do not have even the tiniest desire to hear what I
have to say. At the same time, it is important for me to say the following in the hope that there is even the minutest chance that you will hear me.

I spent many days in your home. You and your family's presence was felt in every corner. I saw your family portraits on the wall, and I thought of my family. I saw
your wife's perfume bottles on the bureau, and I thought of my wife. I saw your children's toys and their English language schoolbooks. I saw your personal computer and how you set up the modem and wireless phone next to the screen, just as I do.

I wanted you to know that despite the immense disorder you found in your house that was created during a search for explosives and tunnels (which were indeed found in other homes), we did our best to treat your possessions with respect. When I moved the computer table, I disconnected the cables and
lay them down neatly on the floor, as I would do with my own computer. I even covered the computer from dust with a piece of cloth. I tried to put back the clothes that fell when we moved the closet although not the same as you would have done, but at least in such a way that nothing would get lost.

I know that the devastation, the bullet holes in your walls and the
destruction of those homes near you place my descriptions in a ridiculous light. Still, I need you to understand me, us, and hope that you will channel your anger and criticism to the right places.

I decided to write you this letter specifically because I stayed in your home.

I can surmise that you are intelligent and educated and there are those in your household that are university students. Your children learn English, and you are connected to the Internet. You are not ignorant; you know what is going on around you.

Therefore, I am sure you know that Qassam rockets were launched from your neighborhood into Israeli towns and cities.

How could you see these weekly launches and not think that one day we would say "enough"?! Did you ever consider that it is perhaps wrong to launch rockets at innocent civilians trying to lead a normal life, much like you?

How long did you think we would sit back without reacting?

I can hear you saying "it's not me, it's Hamas". My intuition tells me you are not their most avid supporter. If you look closely at the sad reality in which your people live, and you do not try to deceive yourself or make excuses about "occupation", you must certainly reach the conclusion that the Hamas is your real enemy.

The reality is so simple, even a seven year old can understand: Israel withdrew from the Gaza strip, removing military bases and its citizens from Gush Katif. Nonetheless, we continued to provide you with electricity,
water, and goods (and this I know very well as during my reserve duty I guarded the border crossings more than once, and witnessed hundreds of trucks full of goods entering a blockade-free Gaza every day).

Despite all this, for reasons that cannot be understood and with a lack of any rational logic, Hamas launched missiles on Israeli towns. For three years we clenched our teeth and restrained ourselves. In the end, we could not take it anymore and entered the Gaza strip, into your neighborhood, in
order to remove those who want to kill us. A reality that is painful but very easy to explain.

As soon as you agree with me that Hamas is your enemy and because of them, your people are miserable, you will also understand that the change must come from within. I am acutely aware of the fact that what I say is easier to write than to do, but I do not see any other way. You, who are connected to the world and concerned about your children's education, must lead, together with your friends, a civil uprising against Hamas.

I swear to you, that if the citizens of Gaza were busy paving roads, building schools, opening factories and cultural institutions instead of dwelling in self pity, arms smuggling and nurturing a hatred to your Israeli neighbors, your homes would not be in ruins right now. If your leaders were
not corrupt and motivated by hatred, your home would not have been harmed.

If someone would have stood up and shouted that there is no point in
launching missiles on innocent civilians, I would not have to stand in your kitchen as a soldier.

You don't have money, you tell me? You have more than you can imagine.

Even before Hamas took control of Gaza, during the time of Yasser Arafat, millions if not billions of dollars donated by the world community to the Palestinians was used for purchasing arms or taken directly to your leaders bank accounts. Gulf States, the emirates - your brothers, your flesh and
blood, are some of the richest nations in the world. If there was even a small feeling of solidarity between Arab nations, if these nations had but the smallest interest in reconstructing the Palestinian people - your
situation would be very different.

You must be familiar with Singapore. The land mass there is not much larger than the Gaza strip and it is considered to be the second most populated country in the world. Yet, Singapore is a successful, prospering, and well
managed country. Why not the same for you?

My friend, I would like to call you by name, but I will not do so publicly.

I want you to know that I am 100% at peace with what my country did, what my army did, and what I did. However, I feel your pain. I am sorry for the destruction you are finding in your neighborhood at this moment. On a personal level, I did what I could to minimize the damage to your home as much as possible.

In my opinion, we have a lot more in common than you might imagine. I am a civilian, not a soldier, and in my private life I have nothing to do with the military. However, I have an obligation to leave my home, put on a uniform, and protect my family every time we are attacked. I have no desire
to be in your home wearing a uniform again and I would be more than happy to sit with you as a guest on your beautiful balcony, drinking sweet tea seasoned with the sage growing in your garden.

The only person who could make that dream a reality is you. Take
responsibility for yourself, your family, your people, and start to take control of your destiny. How? I do not know. Maybe there is something to be learned from the Jewish people who rose up from the most destructive human tragedy of the 20th century, and instead of sinking into self-pity, built a
flourishing and prospering country. It is possible, and it is in your hands.

I am ready to be there to provide a shoulder of support and help to you.

But only you can move the wheels of history."

Yishai, (Reserve Soldier)

galia said...

Anonymous, if that soldier possibly move and stayed with Gazans and live their everyday life, maybe then he wouldn't sound so naive.
He lists all the excuses that all israelis list. Nothing new. Most of them are distortion of facts, but i won't even go there.
But you know why i am fan of Finkelstein, it's becaue of the fact that Israeli have no shame and excuse all the atrocities commited last month and last 60 years. Israel doesn't take responsibility for its actions, they blame aalllllllllllll on Hamas, Arafat, US, etc etc. Israel is arrogant enough to say that they are entitled to freedom, land, civil rights, US support. adn Palestinians are not entitled to have running water and electricity.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible for a palestinian to ever tell the truth? It doesn't seem like it. Like the fake "massacre" in Jenin, the fake shooting of Al Dura, lies aided and abetted by leftists posing as impartial journalists. It's like accepting news from Tokyo Rose or Lord Haw Haw.

If 5 of her kids are dead, where are they? Show us their bodies.

We all know that hamas, as a strategy fight in civilian clothing. A neutralized hamas fighter is suddenly a poor innocent "civilian".

Mosques being used to store weapons, schools used to launch missiles.

So called "palestinians" have childrens TV shows indoctrinating viewers to crave death as martyrs. The pictures of children dressed in child size suicide bomb vests certainly paint a picture of a koran inspired death cult. Child sacrifice is hailed by palestinians.

I hope 60 Minutes will have the sense to present a future segment on Islamofascism in Gaza.

All anyone has to do is read the Hamas Charter of 1988, the same year Pan Am 103 was bombed and crashed onto Lockerbie Scotland. Read how hamas considers Freemasons, the Rotary and Lions Clubs "Zionist" organizations. Note that the nazis hated Freemasons too.

60 Minutes, you have shamed yourselves putting out such Islamofascist propaganda.

M said...


You have a right to an opinion. But don't risk your intellect to the slavery of Zionism. Divorce ignorance at once. Visit http://www.wakeupproject.com for a new, fresh, perspective.

-Best Regards

galia said...

What's happening in Palestine, including Hamas movement is a result of Zionists occupation of Palestinian land and expulsion of palestinian people.
"After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. When they will have digested the region they overtook, they will aspire to further expansion, and so on. Their plan is embodied in the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion", and their present conduct is the best proof of what we are saying."
That's what Hamas and Palestinians believe (and israel validates this claim everyday) that that's their source of fear and therefore resistance.

And lets not bring Nazis in the conversation, i can't reply or Medad will say i am on the slippery slope again :) (dont' know to what)

YMedad said...

In 1834, Arabs pogromed the Jews of Hebron, killing several and raping more than half the female population. This was more than 60 years before Herzl, almost 50 years before the "First Zionist Aliyah" and 150 years before the founding of Hamas. The Jews there were a religious community not engaged in any political activity, waiting for Messiah. Why were they killed? Because they were Jews?

galia said...

I don't know why they did it, as i don't know why Jewish people have been persecuted all over the world. It's evil and everyone must condemn it.

Ameen said...

'The Israeli perspective, by contrast, is given a fraction of the time.'

Hasn't this 'point of view' taken enough media time already in Hollywood, mainstream TV channels and practically all the major papers in the U.S for ....well, since the foundation of Israel? And over all those years, hasn't this 'point of view' been very one sided? Did it give the chance to Palestinians to present their case in a fair manner and with enough time and exposure?
What happened to all the Brandos, priests and historians who dared just as much to criticize some Jews or question the numbers of the Holocaust victims?

YMedad said...

You're right Ameen. Can you give me some time to discuss this with the other members of the Supreme High & Mighty Council of the Second-Generation "Elder of Zion" so I can get back to you on whether or not we should relinquish a bit of our control over the finances, the press, media and cinema, not to speak of the stage, literary world and internal medicine and dentistry?

Thanks for your undertanding and patience.

As for Jews receiving Nobel prizes, that's not in our purview. Most people prefer the benefits they acrue from their work whereas the rest is just BS: art and stuff. You know.

And, Ameen, I won't ask you about your sister's honor.

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