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September 04, 2007

Washington Post Praises Israeli Terrorism Courts

In an editorial remarkable for its contrast with much of the paper’s own Arab-Israeli news coverage, The Washington Post’s “Israel’s Example; Fighting terrorism without sacrificing due process�? (September 4) reports important basic facts. The lead sentence:

“No one would say that Israel is soft on terrorism, which makes it all the more fascinating that a country that essentially lives under siege provides so many legal accommodations to those it detains as unlawful combatants.�? One can read much Washington Post foreign reporting without getting the sense that Israel “essentially lives under siege.�?

The commentary notes that “even non-citizens captured outside the country and designated unlawful combatants are entitled to due process in Israeli civilian courts.�?

The editorial errs by referring to the West Bank only as “the occupied territories�? without noting that the occupation is legal, the result of Israel’s successful self-defense in 1967, and that the area’s status also is that of “disputed territory.�? And the commentary’s purpose is not to compliment Israel but to allow The Post to contrast unfavorably U.S. judicial treatment of non-combatants with Israeli procedures.

Nevertheless, “Israel’s Example�? gives readers important, fundamental information, and should be commended for that. — ER

Posted by ER at September 4, 2007 03:56 PM


It is a surprise to receive praise from a foreign paper. There may be lots of things wrong with our country, like any other, but the due process of law is good and I am proud of that.


“Mythbuster�? (September 5 post) quotes out of context Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in an attempt to show Israel's 1967 Six-Day War was not one of self-defense. He or she also claims Israel went to war as part of a plan to gain additional territory.

Begin, in an Aug. 8, 1982 speech to Israel’s National Defense College, noted that in June, 1967 Israel was defending itself. In addition, before and after the Six-Day War, Arab, U.S., U.N., and other sources acknowledged that Arab aggression had forced Israel’s pre-emptive attack.

“Mythbuster’s�? also falsely alleges that Israel attacked to achieve its “long-standing goal of conquering new territory.�?

Begin, attempting to defend Israel’s 1982 war against the Palestine Liberation Organization in Lebanon as without alternative, said that “in June, 1967 we again had a choice [as in 1956]. The Egyptian army concentration in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him. [But] This was a war of self-defense in the noblest sense of the term. The government of national unity then established decided unanimously: We will take the initiative and attack the enemy, drive him back, and thus assure the security of Israel and the future of the nation.�?

Later in his talk, Begin reinforced the fact that Israel’s pre-emptive attack in 1967 was not a “Pearl Harbor-like�? act of aggression:

“There is no decisive mandate to go to war only if there is no alternative. There is no moral imperative that a nation must, or is entitled to, fight only when its back is to the sea, or the abyss. Such a war may avert tragedy, if not a Holocaust, for any nation; but it causes it terrible loss of life .... A free, sovereign nation, which hates war and loves peace, and which is concerned about its security, must create the conditions under which war, if there is a need for it, will not be for lack of alternatives. The conditions must be such — and their creation depends upon man’s reason and his actions — that the price of victory will be few casualties, not many.�?

Many others saw Israel as reacting to provocation:

* When U.N. Secretary General U Thant reported to the General Assembly the New York Times’ headline (June 27) read: “Thant Says Cairo Began The Steps That Led to War; Report on U.N.’s Withdrawal Lays Direct Confrontation With Israel to Egypt�?. A key step, recognized internationally as a casus belli, was Egypt’s May closure of the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli shipping;

* U.S. President Lyndon Johnson declared on June 19 that Egypt’s blockade of Israeli shipping was the “act of folly�? most responsible for the war;

* Even before the fighting erupted, Egyptian journalist and Nasser confidante Mohammed Heykal wrote that Egypt had made war inevitable (by closing the Straits of Tiran, expelling U.N. monitors from the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip, moving more than 80,000 troops and nearly 1,000 tanks into the Sinai, forming a combined military command with Jordan, and so on). Israel, with fewer than 2.5 million people and a citizen-soldier army based on reservists, could not remain mobilized for long without striking or suffering serious economic and social disruption;

* At the trials of Egyptian officers held accountable for the defeat, Chief Justice Salah al-Hadidi wrote that “I can state that Egypt’s political leadership called Israel to war. It clearly provoked Israel and forced it into a confrontation�?; and

* Israel’s 1949 armistice lines, which left it only nine miles wide north of Tel Aviv and five miles wide west of Jerusalem, made waiting for Arab armies to strike quite likely suicidal.

“Mythbuster�? also wrongly claims that Israel fought to acquire territory. Actually, it expected to negotiate away much of the Golan Heights, Sinai Peninsula, West Bank and Gaza Strip it had gained in the war. In Defense Minister Moshe Dayan's famous phrase, Israelis were “waiting for a telephone call�? from Arab leaders. Israel expected to hear that its neighbors, at last, were ready to talk peace. Israel vowed both not to return to the vulnerable armistice lines of 1948 and ‘49 or to a divided Jerusalem, and yet to be “unbelievably generous in working out peace terms,�? as Foreign Minister Abba Eban put it. In direct talks with Arab countries, “everything is negotiable,�? he said.

But at a post-war conference in Sudan, the leaders of a dozen Arab countries pledged to continue their struggle against Israel. They issued the “three no’s of Khartoum�?: no peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel, and no recognition of Israel.

It is “Mythbuster�? whose claims are unfounded propaganda. — Eric Rozenman, CAMERA

Posted by: Renate Baramy at September 5, 2007 01:17 AM

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