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January 30, 2009: What We Contend With

March 26, 2009

It ain’t easy, that’s for very sure, and it’s only going to get worse in the months ahead.

The IDF knew that there might be law suits forthcoming against IDF officers in courts in various countries with regard to what has just gone on in Gaza. And they have been preparing for it. But who could have ever anticipated this:

Yesterday a court in Madrid, Spain granted a petition by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, asking that National Infrastructure Minister and former Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and former IAF and IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz be investigated for alleged “crimes against humanity” for their involvement in the 2002 assassination of Hamas terrorist Salah Shehadeh.

Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter, former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon, former GOC Southern Command Doron Almog, former National Security Council Head Giora Eiland and Brigadier-General (Res.) Mike Herzog have also been named as persons on interest in the case.

Shehadeh — considered responsible for hundreds of lethal attacks on Israel — was the founder of Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing. Israel arrested him in the 1980s and later turned over to the PA, which set him free in early 2000. When he was successfully targeted from the air in July, 2002, 14 other people were killed.

Justice Fernando Andeo, a National Court of Spain Judge, is said to have decided to grant the petition “in the name of universal justice.”


The outrage here is every bit as great as would be expected.

Ben Eliezer made this statement:

“I do not regret the decision I made as defense minister to take [Shehadeh] out. He was one of the biggest murderers. A hundred Israelis were killed under his orders. At the time, suicide bombing attacks took place on buses, at coffee shops and on the street on an almost daily basis. If we hadn’t assassinated him, he would have continued with the attacks and killed more and more Israelis.

“I delayed the attack two or three times because Shehadeh was surrounded by innocent people. When I gave the order, we were under the assumption that he was alone. I was not aware at the time of any innocent people who resided in the adjacent building. We were certain there were no innocent civilians in the area.

“The IDF has always operated with caution.”


Defense Minister Barak, calling the Spanish court decision “delusional,” commented that:

“Those who call the killing of terrorists ‘a crime against humanity’ are living in an upside-down world.

“This decision is all the more outrageous when you consider Hamas’ true colors, being revealed once again these days to us and the world

“All senior officials belonging to the defense establishment, past and present, acted properly and in the name of the State of Israel, out of their commitment to protect the citizens of Israel.”

He said he would do everything in his power to get the charges dropped.


Moshe Ya’alon, expressing confidence that the State would act to protect those being investigated, said, “This is part of the propaganda against the legitimacy of the State of Israel.”

Indeed, it’s the State that’s under attack, not just the individuals named.


Meanwhile, Conservative Catholic priest Floriano Abrahamowicz of Treviso in northern Italy, told the Tribuna di Treviso yesterday that “the only thing certain” about the gas chambers “was that they were used for disinfection.”

“The Israelis cannot say that the genocide they suffered at the hands of the Nazis was graver than that occurring in Gaza just because they killed several thousand people while the Nazis killed six million.”

Abrahamowicz denied that he was an anti-Semite, saying that his father was Jewish. But he referred to the Jews as god-slayers.


Abrahamowicz’s words made press world-wide because they followed the incident of the lifting by Pope Benedict of the excommunication of Bishop Richard Williamson, a Holocaust denier, and three others in the Church who are traditionalists and opposed changes brought about by the Second Vatican Council. This Council, which set a tone for reconciliation with the Jewish people, has been referred to by Williamson as “a separation of Catholic Authority from Catholic Truth.” Presumably the Pope’s decision was motivated by a desire to heal a rift between different Church factions, but it will have considerable repercussions.

Several sources report that Williamson recently said in an interview that, “Anti-Semitism can only be bad if it is against the truth. But if something is true, it can’t be bad.”

The Pope’s decision has generated major tensions in the relationship between the Jewish world and the Church and seriously set back decades of inter-religious dialogue. The Rabbinate of Israel has broken off contact with the Church.


Then there is a clip offered by MEMRI showing a TV show on the Sunni Islamist Egyptian channel Al-Rahma TV that featured Egyptian cleric Amin Al-Ansar speaking about the Holocaust. (Holocaust Memorial Day was this week.) First he explained that because of the Jews’ deeds during and after World War I, “it got to the point that the rulers themselves had no solution but to annihilate them.”

Then, he screened footage of torture and killing of Jews in Dachau, Mauthausen, and Belsen, and said, “This is what we hope will happen, but, Allah willing, at the hand of the Muslims.”


Sometimes one feels that there is no end. But there is good news, as well. And I’m delighted to report it and provide a counterbalance:

Naalin, a small Palestinian Arab village not far from Ramallah, bought a set of pictures from Yad VaShem Holocaust Museum and put them on display. Hundreds of people visited the exhibit, some learning about the Holocaust for the first time.

Of course, there was the inevitable linkage: “Why should we suffer too?” But, none the less, quite unusual and encouraging.


Then there’s this:

When Anwar Abu Arar, age seven, of the Israeli Arab village of Kalansuwa, was killed in a road accident, his father, Khaled, decided to donate the boy’s organs. “Children are always children,” he said. “It doesn’t matter to me if they are Arabs or Jews. If it’s impossible to save my son, I want to help other children. It’s a matter of conscience.”

When he decided for organ donation, Khaled knew that the organs might go to Jews. As it turned out, two Arabs and two Jews received the boy’s heart and lungs, liver, and two kidneys.

Said Khaled, “I hope this contribution of my son’s organs will reflect the fact that Arabs and Jews in Israel all want peace and quiet.”

Bless him.




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