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The Lives of Children 2 Update

Here is more on our subject of how children are spending their summer (at least in the Northern hemisphere).

ABC reporters are in Gaza. They saw first-hand an Israeli shelling of a beach where four boys were playing. Their Report here.

The story is confirmed in this eyewitness account of Guardian reporter, Peter Beaumont.

"It was there that the second shell hit the beach, those firing apparently adjusting their fire to target the fleeing survivors. As it exploded, journalists standing by the terrace wall shouted: "They are only children."

"In the space of 40 seconds, four boys who had been playing hide and seek among fishermen's shacks on the wall were dead. They were aged between seven and 11; two were named Mohammad, one Zakaria and the youngest Ahed. All were members of the extended Bakr family."

UPDATE:  You may remember New York Times photographer Tyler Hicks from various mideast wars. He has this account in Thursday's paper of the killing of the four Palestnian boys. His photos show the grusome condition of their blown-apart bodies.  Here.



Commenting Guidelines

Including 100 U.S. Senators!


July 10, 2014

Mr. GRAHAM (for himself, Mr. MENENDEZ, Ms. AYOTTE, Mr. SCHUMER, Mr. MCCAIN, Mr. CORKER, Mr. RUBIO, Mr. BLUNT, Mr. KIRK, Mr. TOOMEY, Mr. ALEXANDER, Mr. MORAN, Mr. JOHANNS, Mr. HELLER, Mr. INHOFE, Mrs. FISCHER, Ms. COLLINS, Mr. CRUZ, Mr. VITTER, Mr. PAUL, Mr. BLUMENTHAL, Mrs. BOXER, Mr. NELSON, Mr. FRANKEN, Ms. MURKOWSKI, Mr. THUNE, Mr. GRASSLEY, Mr. HATCH, Mr. MURPHY, Mr. SCOTT, Mr. CARDIN, Mr. CRAPO, Mr. CHAMBLISS, Mr. ROBERTS, Mr. CASEY, Mr. WICKER, Mr. COATS, Mrs. SHAHEEN, Mr. TESTER, Mr. KAINE, Mr. LEE, and Mr. BEGICH) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations


Expressing the sense of the Senate regarding United States support for the State of Israel as it defends itself against unprovoked rocket attacks from the Hamas terrorist organization.

Whereas Hamas is a United States-designated terrorist organization whose charter calls for the destruction of the State of Israel;

Whereas Hamas continues to reject the core principles of the Middle East Quartet (the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia)--recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce violence, and accept previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements;

Whereas Hamas has killed hundreds of Israelis and dozens of Americans in rocket attacks and suicide bombings;

Whereas, since Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, Hamas and other terrorist groups have fired thousands of rockets at Israel;

Whereas Hamas has entered into a unity governing arrangement with Fatah and the Palestinian Authority;

Whereas the unity governing agreement implies Fatah's and the Palestinian Authority's support for Hamas' belligerent actions against Israel, potentially contributing to a false perception of legitimacy for Hamas' belligerent actions;

Whereas, since June 2014, Hamas has fired nearly 300 rockets at Israel;

Whereas Hamas' weapons arsenal includes approximately 12,000 rockets that vary in range;

Whereas innocent Israeli civilians are indiscriminately targeted by Hamas rocket attacks; and

Whereas 5,000,000 Israelis are currently living under the threat of rocket attacks from Gaza: Now, therefore, be it

 Resolved, That the Senate--

    • (1) reaffirms its support for Israel's right to defend its citizens and ensure the survival of the State of Israel;
    • (2) condemns the unprovoked rocket fire at Israel;
    • (3) calls on Hamas to immediately cease all rocket and other attacks against Israel; and
    • (4) calls on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve the unity governing arrangement with Hamas and condemn the attacks on Israel.



I don't see how that resolution addresses the issues outlined in Thrall's piece. If he is correct on the background and history, this resolution appears to me to be making things worse and not better. I am not always a fan of Obama but I do admire his more cool, analytic posture and not succumbing to knee jerk reactions.

Instead of blustering on the senate floor, the US should be heavily engaged in talk in Egypt and REAL talk about REAL issues and solutions a al the Thrall piece..

Krauthammmer is not an authority,

George D: Quite right. What are these Senator's doing except counting their campaign cash? I lament that Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Saunders, Al Franken, and some others appear to be among the signers. Do they read the newspapers? Watch TV? Surf the internet? You would think there might be a greater variety of views on the subject.

I did find the Thrall piece a good summary of what seems to have been going on since the PA-Hamas Agreement. I wonder if Abbas will pursue the international court membership as many in the West Bank are urging him. That could mean, of course, that Israel will start bombing Ramallah.

Krauthammmer is not an authority,

Perhaps you can refute his points.

Krauthammer has already conclusively demonstrated that he is both a crank and a charlatan.

Iraq is Hitlerian Germany, a truly mad police state with external ambitions and a menacing arsenal.

Saddam survived, rearmed, defeated the inspections regime and is now back in the business of building weapons of mass destruction.

...Time is running short. Saddam has weapons of mass destruction. He is working on nuclear weapons. And he has every incentive to pass them on to terrorists who will use them against us. We cannot hold the self-defense of the United States hostage to the solving of a century-old regional conflict.

Kissinger says that regime change in Iraq is an appropriate goal. The point he made in his syndicated column, and which he continues to make, is that in its "declaratory policy" -- i.e., public posture -- the United States should emphasize weapons destruction rather than regime change in order to garner allies for the war. But our actual policy is to achieve both. After all, the goals are inseparable. Given the nature of Hussein's rule, destroying these weapons requires regime change.

The vice president, followed by the administration A Team and echoing the president, argues that we must remove from power an irrational dictator who has a history of aggression and mass murder, is driven by hatred of America and is developing weapons of mass destruction that could kill millions of Americans in a day. The Democrats respond with public skepticism, a raised eyebrow and the charge that the administration has yet to "make the case."

How far the Democrats have come. Forty years ago to the month, President Kennedy asserts his willingness to present his case to the United Nations, but also his determination not to allow the United Nations to constrain America's freedom of action. Today his brother, a leader of the same party, awaits the guidance of the United Nations before he will declare himself on how America should respond to another nation threatening the United States with weapons of mass destruction.

Hawks favor war on the grounds that Saddam Hussein is reckless, tyrannical and instinctively aggressive, and that if he comes into possession of nuclear weapons in addition to the weapons of mass destruction he already has, he is likely to use them or share them with terrorists. The threat of mass death on a scale never before seen residing in the hands of an unstable madman is intolerable -- and must be preempted.

[W]hy does the president, who is pledged to disarming Hussein one way or the other, allow Powell even to discuss a scheme that is guaranteed to leave Saddam Hussein's weapons in place?

President Bush remains apparently sincere in his determination to rid the world of Hussein and his weapons.

The president cannot logically turn back. He says repeatedly, and rightly, that inspectors can only verify a voluntary disarmament. They are utterly powerless to force disarmament on a regime that lies, cheats and hides. And having said, again correctly, that the possession of weapons of mass destruction by Hussein is an intolerable threat to the security of the United States, there is no logical way to rationalize walking away from Iraq -- even if the president wanted to.

Blix never really found anything big in his scavenger hunt through Iraq, but he reported to the Security Council that Iraq's regime had failed to cooperate and disarm.

Under Resolution 1441, that is a material breach. It is a casus belli.

On Sept. 11, 2001, the cozy illusions and stupid pretensions died. We now recognize the central problem of the 21st century: the conjunction of terrorism, rogue states and weapons of mass destruction.

The reason you [President Bush] were able to build support at home and rally the world to at least pretend to care about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction is that you showed implacable resolve to disarm Iraq one way or the other. Your wobbles at the United Nations today -- postponing the vote, renegotiating the terms -- are undermining the entire enterprise.

The inability to find the weapons is indeed troubling, but only because it means that the weapons remain unaccounted for and might be in the wrong hands. The idea that our inability to thus far find the weapons proves that the threat was phony and hyped is simply false.

The most damning, however, is his July 18, 2003 column on the reasons President Bush went to war, which explicitly cites the risk of Saddam acquiring WMD and passing them to terrorists, not the need to create democracy:

The charge is that the president was looking for excuses to go to war with Hussein and that the weapons-of-mass-destruction claims were just a pretense.

Aside from the fact that Hussein's possession of weapons of mass destruction was posited not only by Bush but also by just about every intelligence service on the planet (including those of countries that opposed war as the solution), one runs up against this logical conundrum: Why then did Bush want to go to war? For fun and recreation? Because of some cowboy compulsion?

...On the contrary, the war was a huge political gamble. There was no popular pressure to go to war. There was even less foreign pressure to go to war. Bush decided to stake his presidency on it nonetheless, knowing that if things went wrong -- and indeed they might still -- his political career was finished.

It is obvious he did so because he thought that, post-9/11, it was vital to the security of the United States that Hussein be disarmed and deposed.

Under what analysis? That Iraq posed a clear and imminent danger, a claim now being discounted by the critics because of the absence thus far of weapons of mass destruction?

No. That was not the president's case. It was, on occasion, Tony Blair's, and that is why Blair is in such political trouble in Britain. But in Bush's first post-9/11 State of the Union address (January 2002), he framed Iraq as part of a larger and more enduring problem, the overriding threat of our time: the conjunction of terrorism, terrorist states and weapons of mass destruction. And unless something was done, we faced the prospect of an infinitely more catastrophic 9/11 in the future.

Later that year, in a speech to the United Nations, he spoke of the danger from Iraq not as "clear and present" but "grave and gathering," an obvious allusion to Churchill's "gathering storm," the gradually accumulating threat that preceded the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939. And then nearer the war, in his 2003 State of the Union address, Bush plainly denied that the threat was imminent. "Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent." Bush was, on the contrary, calling for action precisely when the threat was not imminent because, "if this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions . . . would come too late."

The threat had not yet even fully emerged, Bush was asserting, but nonetheless it had to be faced because it would only get worse. Hussein was not going away. The sanctions were not going to restrain him. Even his death would be no reprieve, as his half-mad sons would take over. The argument was that Hussein had to be removed eventually and that with Hussein relatively weakened, isolated and vulnerable, now would be more prudent and less costly than later.  

He was right.

He's about as reliable a commentator on international affairs as Michael Behe is on the natural sciences.

Gerelyn. There would be no point in refuting his "points." They come right off the Israeli ambassador's talking points, gussied up with Krauthammer cliches like "grotesque" and Kafkaesque." That is what he does -- takes someone else's spin on a third party's reporting and gussy it up for a column and regular TV appearances as, what is known in the trade as, a moosehead. That is his profession. I just hate to see it confused with on-scene reporting or the ruminations of experienced diplomats.

Take one of his statements: "Everyone knows Hamas set off this mini-war." Everyone does not know that. Even if you qualify everyone, make it "every honest observer," not everyone knows that. For evidence, see the previous 50 or so comments on this thread. The reason not everyone knows that is because everyone -- and even every honest observer -- has never agreed (and never will agree) on when this mini-war started.

A question about Britain and Ireland .... wasn't that different as the countries aren't continguous and I don't believe the IRA even sent rockets into Britain itself?   Yet still, there were "massacres" of ciivilians by British in Northern Ireland ...  .... and Britian still retains part of Ireland.

Ann Chapman @ July 17; 7:46 PM: "Mr. Avishai is right. But that doesn't provide a road forward. The world will not go back to 1917 or to 1948 or to June of 1967.  If you think this is possible, many would be interested in hearing how it would come about."

If not a road foreward, than an important historical reminder often overlooked. Zionism developed at the end of the ninetheenth and beginning of the twentiety century in the midst of nationalism and colonialism. Britain the greatest colonial power of the day agreed to the Balfour Declaration in 1917 with pressure from British Zionists and the support of British Evangelicals.

Interesting opening: "His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country." 

Britain's attitude toward its colonies and the mandate that it exercised in Palestine until 1948 had a typically racist attitude toward brown people and lesser "civilizations" (also common in our own country). Perhaps that explains the British failure to uphold the understanding "that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine." And perhaps it is an attitude that Zionists themselves adopted.

While Muslim Palestinians bear the brunt of Israeli views, don't kid yourself that Christians and other non-Jewish communities enjoy full civil and religious rights in Israel or the West Bank.

Today saw an interview with Bill Clinton who was in India doing some charity work with kids.  He  commented on the Israel/Palestine problem.  Here's just the beginning of that part  ...

NDTV: And it was a crisis you made a successful intervention in to de-escalate the crisis. There is another crisis in the world today that some would say needs the intervention of somebody like you. What's happening between Israel and the Palestinian people today, and I have to ask you and I know the world, not just India, is interested in what you have to say on this. 200 people dead on the Palestinian side in Gaza, almost 80% of them are children and women; one Israeli dead by comparison. Yet the statement we've seen from the White House, many people believe, continues to be partial to the Israeli perspective. Where do you come in on this? How can this crisis be resolved? Do you believe Israel has been fair?

Bill Clinton: Well, first of all Hamas was perfectly well aware of what would happen if they started raining rockets in Israel. They fired a thousand of them. And they have a strategy designed to force Israel to kill their own civilians so that the rest of the world will condemn them. Now, I believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu could and should make a comprehensive peace agreement with the Palestinians. I believe if he did it, and he did it with either President Abbas or with his coalition, if in return for Hamas' renunciation of terror and recognition of Israel's right to exist, I believe 60% of the people of Israel would support it ...

I don't wish to criticize President Clinton in making this remark, but it does seem to me that his willingness to make specific, public foreign policy recommendations like this is not the norm for a former President.  Am I wrong about this?  Would the kind of thing that Crystal has quoted here raise hackles in the Obama White House or the State Department?

Jim, Every time  Bill opens his mouth someone in the White House  bangs her or his head against the wall. But if you parse what he said, he didn't deviate from the White House line, and he didn't say anything that will lose his wife $1 in campaign support. He just sounded more coherent than Obama without being so.

As I am bowing out of this discussion now, a couple of comments for the record.   

Rita -  How can you claim to sympathize with both sides and then say right out that you have lived among Jews and studied their history but say not one word about "the other side" which you claim to empathize with?

I have not just studied the history of the Jewish people, I have also studied and read a fair amount about the lives and suffering of the Palestinians. I have attended special talks and events on the plight of the Palestinians. I live in Washington DC, and one blessing of this area is that we have access to many such opportunities to learn and to be exposed to all sides of various issues.

 I did not provide a full summary of my education nor of my research and study about the Palestinian tragedy because I did not think that necessary.  I specifically mentioned  living among Jewish families because having many Jewish friends and neighbors is what prompted me to study Jewish history (not just recent Jewish history and not focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - just Jewish history) because it was that study that caused me to look at the middle east conflicts with somewhat different eyes than I had before this study.  Like Crystal, for a very long time I tended to uncritically take the "side" of the Palestinians, especially before Hamas took control of the Gaza.  Now I see right and wrong on both sides, instead of seeing Israel as all "bad" and the Hamas-ruled Palestinians as all "good",  and I don't pretend to have an answer for the problem.  The only thing I do know is that we can't rewind the clock and undo  mistakes that have been made for the last century.

I am fully aware that non-Jews in Israel do not enjoy fully equal rights with Jews. Jews and christians do not enjoy any rights at all in many Muslim controlled countries. Christians still have a few rights in Hamas-controlled Gaza, but those rights are disappearing.

So I am also aware of the "Islamization" of the Gaza Strip by Hamas, which is increasingly imposing sharia law in that sector.  The already tiny christian population there has declined by more than half since Hamas took  over, and fewer than 1400 christians remain there.  Some leaders in Hamas have publicly stated that there is no need for christian institutions in the Gaza and that they must be ready for Islamic rule.  The "Talibanization"  (as one Palestinian scholar put it) of the Gaza impacts christians as well as moderate Muslims.  For example, new laws threaten the existence of christian schools, which are being forced to follow sharia-type laws.

Unlike some, I do not see this as a black and white issue, with all good guys on one side and all bad guys on the other. I see nuance and a whole lot of gray. 

Rita has made some conclusions about me  - ....shows how little you've ever been even mildly exposed to "the other side."  - a conclusion she makes while knowing nothing at all about me other than a handful of posts on this website. But  she is wrong. I have been "exposed" a great deal to articles, news, studies and commentary that support "the other side" - by which Rita  appaarently means means the Palestinian's "side". What I have not been exposed to is Commonweal's articles.  I have not subscribed to Commonweal for very long. So, if what Rita says is true, that Commonweal normally "favors" Israel, I apologize. I do not expect a bias towards Israel anymore than I expect to find a bias favoring Hamas.  I would expect to see nuanced and balanced discussion.  I will try to find older articles from the archives, and hope to find more of that type of discussion than is apparent on this particular thread.  Commonweal does not control the comments given, and they do not necessarily "represent the opinions of the sponsor."  However, I did wonder about this since an editor and staff writer are among the commenters here who most strongly criticize  those whose views don't wholeheartedly affirm their condemnations of Israel.

One p.s.  I am the mother of 3 sons and one very tiny grandson. My heart breaks when children become the innocent victims of conflict - all kinds of conflict. I cry when I see children dying of starvation that could be prevented. I weep for the children at the US border. But I do not know what happened when that ship shelled the beach and seemed to deliberately target the children. I do not know how clearly the gun operator could see.But I am prepared to say I don't know what happened. If it was deliberate, I fully join those who condemn that action. I weerp for the children I weep for the mothers and fathers. But  I won't condemn the entire nation of Israel for what may have been a rogue operator.

Not all American soldiers in Viet Nam would have participated in the My Lai massacre. Eventually our nation tried those soldiers and punished them. Israel has said it will investigate. Are you going to let them have time to do that? 

 Israel knows that civilians are "in the way". They know this because Hamas has chosen to use its own civilians, including its own children, as human shields for their weapons installations. Hamas targets civiians in Israel routinely. They don't aim only at Israeli military installations or infrastructure, they aim almost exclusively at civilian neighborhoods. They use their own children to try to protect their weapons, and, knowing it won't work,  they then use the casualties as propoganda.  They also use their own children as human bombs. Yet none of these tactics by Hamas are condemned here. except by Crystal and one or two others.  Why not?


If Kelly and Krauthammer want examples of depravity, let them read this:


Anne Chapman: Why don't you think of my posts here as part of a national effort to contribute to fair and balanced treatment by redressing the overwhelming pro-Israel views of the MSM, including your local paper and mine. The world is not going to collapse if I and others here raise a critical voice about PM Netanyahu (who is a much a thug as Kaled Mashal).

And for the record: I am not an editor of Commonweal. Once was. Must be a long time since you subscribed!

Anne C - I just wanted to say thanks for your comments. 

From the Pew Forum, people living in Gaza are becoming disillusioned with Hamas  ...  "In the Palestinian territories, 65% worry about extremism, with much greater concern in the Gaza Strip (79%) than in the West Bank (57%)."