This will settle the matter once and for all – part 2

In my previous post I suggested that there has always been a considerable amount of ignorance on the background to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and that this has done little to help an informed discussion of the relative rights and wrongs of both sides. As a consequence, there is often an unquestioned acceptance in the West – particularly in the US and Britain – of the Israeli position on the issue. This is hardly surprising, given the media’s stance, which all too often is biased heavily in favour of the Israeli narrative.

In my own case, growing up in America in the 1950s and 60s, and attending a school with a large proportion of Jewish kids, I was entirely unaware that there even was a Palestinian population, or a “Palestinian issue”. American media at the time – and to some extent still – spoke only of plucky little Israel standing firm against the combined might of its many Arab neighbours who were intent on “pushing it into the sea”. It wasn’t until I first travelled to the area in 1971 and met these Palestinians that my eyes were opened to another whole new narrative, and it has given me a perspective which ever since has put me at odds with mainstream thought on the issue.

Public awareness of the Palestinian plight has improved dramatically since that time, and there is now widespread support for providing the Palestinians at long last with some measure of justice. It’s vital to understand that this awareness has developed only as the Palestinians have offered determined resistance to Israeli occupation and encroachment, which has provoked the most extreme kinds of Israeli retribution and oppression, such as what we’re witnessing once again in Gaza.

Despite the understandable condemnation of violence on either side, it is only because of the Palestinians’ determination to resist that the world knows anything at all about them and of the injustices they have suffered over the past century. If they had, as is so often suggested, foregone resistance and left the Israelis to pursue their own agenda, there would be peace in the area now. But would there be justice?

It’s only because of their continued resistance that the world knows anything at all about the Palestinian people. Without it they would have disappeared from the scene altogether, and for all intents and purposes ceased to exist as a people. This, of course, is exactly what Israeli would like.

So what is this other narrative that so many of us are unaware of?

For that, please proceed to part 3.

This will settle the matter once and for all – part 1

If there is a silver lining in the horrors that the Israelis have visited on the people of Gaza over the past month, it is the hope that at long last this will be enough to persuade the Western world to shift its stance on Israel.

Don’t count on it, particularly in America, where it is an article of faith that Israel Is Right and Can Do No Wrong, and where the mere hint of anything to the contrary is enough to bring a chill over the room and a brief end to conversation while they consider how you managed to crash the party. This is compounded by the near monopoly of the Israeli narrative in the mainstream media, and the well-recognised intimidation of Congress by Israeli lobbies – particularly AIPAC – which have (and use) their power to swing substantial campaign funding to or away from political candidates based solely on their position vis-a-vis Israel.

But on an issue on which people by and large seem to have made up their minds long ago, there are signs that sufficient numbers are still open-minded enough to be shocked at the horrors meted out to the Gazan population while some truly depraved representatives of God’s Chosen People watch and cheer from their armchairs. It certainly wouldn’t do to voice this thought aloud in polite society, but one can’t help wondering if the only lesson the Israelis learned from the horrors of the Nazi period was that next time around, they wanted to be the ones working the ovens.

I’ve often marvelled at the phenomenon in Western democratic societies that elections are generally so finely balanced that it’s not uncommon to hear results described as a landslide when the outcome is decided by a majority of 52%. I used to wonder how it could be that populations seem to be distributed so evenly on issues that one might expect to generate a little more consensus. As the years go by, however, I’ve come to realise that it’s the inevitable consequence of a two party system of government, as the major parties tweak their electoral product by nipping and tucking at their principles in order to capture the middle ground, which is the only place where there are undecided voters with votes up for grabs.

But ponder the fact that in Israel, with its 101 political parties, there is no such fine division on the issue of Gaza. There, they have the most wonderful degree of consensus. Polls indicate that 95% of the people support the continued artillery practice in Gaza, with the other 5% accepting that maybe they’ve done enough for now and perhaps it’s time to start replenishing their stocks of ammunition for next time.

It’s hardly a good advertisement for the concept of democracy when it manages to deliver the sort of mandate that would cause even Vladimir Putin and Saddam Hussein to salivate. And they manage(d) to do it without all the trouble and expense of elections, too.

How is it possible for any diverse group of people, as Israel certainly is, to line up with virtual unanimity on what one might expect to be a divisive issue, to wit: the wholesale killing and maiming of thousands of defenceless people, in full view of the world, by one of the world’s most modern and powerful armies?

Indeed, how is it even possible to call this a “war” between such manifestly unequal forces? This is truly a fight between David and Goliath, but this time Goliath is Israel. Whatever its supporters might like to say about the country being surrounded by those who would push it into the sea, and however they might like to talk about “existential threats”, Israel is rather less likely to be pushed into the sea or disappear under a hail of rockets than Earth is likely – any time soon – to go spinning wildly out of its orbit and crash into the sun.

After all, one side in this “war” has extensive armaments of the world’s most advanced military technology, including missiles, jet fighters, battle tanks, long range artillery and armed drones – not to mention The Bomb, which everyone knows they have but pretends not to notice. It also has highly trained soldiers and a sophisticated military research and export program. As a major ally of the US, Israel is supported by American foreign aid to the tune of billions every year and qualifies for sharing in virtually all the latest American weapon technology. What they aren’t given freely by the Americans they steal through hacking and espionage, in which Israel is recognised by the CIA as one of the leading threats to America. And what they aren’t given and can’t steal, they build themselves, and they’re good at that too.

That pretty well sums up the position on one side of the “battlefield”.

The other side has sticks and stones, basically. Not that many sticks, but plenty of stones. Over the past month, in fact, since their neighbours stopped by for a visit, they’ve lost a good many apartments, schools and hospitals. But on the plus side, they’ve gained a whole lot of new stones. They also have some Iranian fireworks which the Israeli media calls rockets, but that’s only to make them sound more threatening, because they‘re clearly less dangerous than the things we used to set off on the 4th of July when I was a kid. In 4 weeks they’ve only managed to kill 3 people. Back in the States they do heaps better than that in one night without even trying.

And yet Israel’s supporters continue to talk about Israel’s right to defend itself, in a place they’ve illegally occupied and colonised, and more recently blockaded, so that the economy is in ruins and even so-called “dual use materials” such as steel and concrete are kept out because they could be used to build weapons, as well as new schools and hospitals. They’re even denied the right to fish out to reasonable (and agreed) distances from shore, in case they come back with artillery and battle tanks of their own hidden under the nets on their fishing boats. This is why they’ve been forced to go underground, because it’s only by means of those tunnels that they can bring in what they need to survive.

I’m often surprised to discover how little most people know about what really goes on in the Middle East, and about the background to all this trouble and pain. Wouldn’t you think that the conflict which has continued for so long, and killed so many, and which is at the root of other major conflicts in the region and now around the world – indeed a whole so-called Clash of Civilisations – wouldn’t you think that most people would know by now what it’s all about?

And yet, they don’t. The general population is as ignorant of the background to this conflict as Grandma Moses was of rap music, and believes as The Gospel Truth the Israeli fairy tale that they’re only peace-loving innocents who want nothing but to be left in peace, picking oranges on the kibbutz. If only those nasty Palestinians would stop disturbing the peace with their rockets and loud music.

For so many people, it’s just a local squabble they keep hearing about and, frankly, they’re tired of the whole thing. Change the channel, please.

Mind you, knowing nothing about it has never stopped people from having an opinion on the subject, and typically it’s an opinion that the Israelis should just be allowed to live in peace, so why do those awful Palestinians keep provoking them? When you hear someone express an opinion like that, it’s a safe bet that it’s an opinion rooted in deep ignorance. The very questions they ask confirm this. Why do the Palestinians do these things? Why can’t they all just live and let live? Why does the world have to keep hearing about their problems? They’re only causing more trouble and they get what they deserve.

All too often these opinions are more than just opinions, they’re deeply held and unshakeable convictions that Israel is the innocent party, and that critics of Israel are simply anti-Semitic, which they think – incorrectly – means anti-Jewish. So supporters of Israeli occupation and aggression and oppression and discrimination have only to utter the magic words “anti-Semitism” to make their critics disappear in a puff of smoke. It’s the “abracadabra” of political discourse.

To even suggest that there might be reasonable grounds for criticising Israeli policies without being “Jew haters” risks provoking even more irrational responses, because for many people, support for Israel is a core belief, an article of faith. When you hear someone arguing like this, you may rest assured that they are even more ignorant than the first group, which at least admits to not knowing the facts.

Let me hasten to add that when I speak of ignorance here, I don’t mean that in the sense of impugning their intelligence. I merely mean to say that they are unaware of the pertinent facts, and that usually is not their fault but simply the result of being part of a culture that heavily favours one side or the other, with a media that is also heavily biased on the issue. When you never hear the other side’s point of view on an issue, it’s easy to accept that yours is the only reasonable position to take.

So in parts 1 through 3 of this post I propose to jot down a few facts which will settle the matter once and for all, to the undoubted satisfaction of everyone. By the end of this blog, the issues will be so clearly explained and so thoroughly understood that we can all proceed directly to the UN Security Council for an immediate and unanimous resolution of the matter. The delegations gathered in Egypt to discuss a ceasefire can all pack their bags and go home, because from tomorrow morning, or by the weekend at the latest, the conflict will be over and sweet peace and harmony will once again reign over the Holy Land.

 

 

 

 

 

Three strikes and you’re out? Not in this ball game.

The inspiration for this blog is an article in today’s Guardian titled “Israel calls partial truce amid outrage at third strike on UN school”.

A third deadly attack on a United Nations school sheltering people fleeing bombardment in Gaza was strongly condemned by both the UN and the US on Sunday, with UN chief, Ban Ki-moon, calling it a “moral outrage and a criminal act” and pleading for an end to “this madness”.

“It was”, said Ban, “yet another gross violation of international humanitarian law, which clearly requires protection by both parties of Palestinian civilians, UN staff and UN premises, among other civilian facilities”. He called for a swift investigation, saying “those responsible [must be] held accountable. It is a moral outrage and a criminal act.

Surely everyone, even non-Americans, knows the expression “three strikes and you’re out”. That’s the way baseball is played. Get it wrong once, no problem. Get it wrong twice, still in there. But stuff up a third time and you are OUT.

But that’s baseball. The moral obscenity that is going on in Gaza now is real life to the nth degree for the Palestinians who have had to live under an illegal foreign occupation since 1967, a crippling siege since 2007 (actually since well before that), and now a third invasion and ruthless bombardment by one of the world’s largest and best-armed militaries.

In an unusually severe statement, the US state department called on Israel to do “more to meet its own standards and avoid civilian casualties.

That’s what passes for an “unusually severe” statement from US authorities, who reserve their real anger for anything that Israel’s victims do. Think of the language that would be used if Hamas had done anything like this. And more than just language. There would be American boots on the ground by now, and the Sixth Fleet offshore.

The Israeli military was investigating the incident, said a spokesman, but preliminary inquiries had shown that its forces were “targeting a number of terrorists on a motorbike near the school, and we did identify a successful hit on a motorbike. We do not target schools. We certainly do not target civilians. We are still reviewing the incident.

Targeting a number of terrorists on a motorbike?! How many is that? One, or two? And they think that justifies an attack on a UN shelter?

As for “still reviewing the incident”, take that as meaning they are still trying to find a way to shift the blame to Hamas, just as they’ve done in earlier incidents and earlier invasions.

If all else fails, they will simply refuse to cooperate with any subsequent investigations, as they have consistently done in the past. By declining to send a negotiating team to the ceasefire talks in Egypt, they are signalling to the world that they really don’t give a shit what anyone thinks, they’ll stop the killing and destruction when they’re good and ready. And as long as there are still people alive in Gaza, they’re not good and ready yet.

When the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict was established in 2009, Israel simply refused to cooperate, and then objected that the resulting Goldstone Report was one-sided and contained factual errors.

If the report focused heavily on Israeli abuses, it was primarily because there was abundant evidence of Israeli war crimes. If there were factual errors, then Israel passed up the chance to correct them. But it didn’t. It simply used these pathetic arguments as an excuse to conduct no meaningful investigations of its own.

It did conduct investigations, but as Geoffrey Robertson points out in his article suggesting recourse by Palestine to the International Criminal Court: “just two [cases] were brought to trial and the only prison sentence – of seven months – was imposed on a soldier for stealing a credit card.” Stealing a credit card! Israel would have us believe that the worst thing they did was to steal a credit card. What a sick joke.

There was another instance of such rigorous Israeli justice last week. An Israeli officer was investigated after shooting a 13 year old Palestinian girl who was recognised by Israeli soldiers as being a frightened child and no threat, and who in any case was walking away from the army post. The commanding officer left his post, pursued the girl, shot her twice in the head and then emptied his magazine into her body. The Israeli army initially claimed that she was shot while walking toward the soldiers with her schoolbag, which they thought might carry a bomb. But recordings of the radio exchange between soldiers on the scene contradicted that, and it was only through the decency of the Israeli soldiers in his command that the officer was finally charged, albeit with only minor offenses. OK, shit happens with the occasional rogue soldier, but unbelievably, the subsequent investigation by the officer responsible for the Gaza strip, Major General Dan Harel, concluded that the captain had “not acted unethically”. One can only wonder what it takes to be recognised as unethical behaviour by the IDF command.

Israel always defends itself against criticism by complaining of a lack of balance, but when the abuses are overwhelmingly committed by one side it is impossible to give equal space to both.

Another typical Israeli tactic is to issue flat denials, as in the case of its use of white phosphorous in 2009, despite photographic evidence making it perfectly obvious that it was being used.

Or it will accuse Hamas of serious violations and then later retract them when no evidence can be produced. In 2009, for instance, Israel accused Hamas of firing rockets from UN schools, but then later acknowledged that that was untrue.

Last week brought another instance of this with the reported capture of an Israeli soldier, which brought forth exclamations of horror at this barbarity, as if capturing a soldier is somehow so much worse than killing him. It also gave Israel a pretext for its massive bombardment of the Rafah district, killing another 50 people or more. That assertion has also now been retracted by Israel, which admitted that Goldin was, after all, killed in combat. Caught out in another lie or, at the very best, another convenient mistake with hugely disproportionate consequences.

Other very disturbing events include 3 separate incidents reported by Human Rights Watch of Israeli soldiers deliberately firing on civilians trying to flee the violence. Somehow all this seems to escape the attention of the American media and government, which refuse to believe suggestions that Israel is anything but the innocent victim who reluctantly has to slaughter Palestinians by the hundreds and thousands.

None of this is to say that Hamas is innocent of wrongdoing, of course. It appears that on three occasions the UN has found rockets stored in its facilities, and that is a serious violation of the UN’s independence that must be investigated when calm is eventually restored. But the overwhelming preponderance of serious violations of the laws of war and of basic human decency have been committed by the Israelis, and no amount of Israeli prevarications can disguise that.

If all this is not yet enough to make you cry, there is another worrying development in the

rapidly unfolding health disaster in Gaza, with overwhelmed medical services on the verge of collapse. It said a third of hospitals, 14 primary healthcare clinics and 29 ambulances had been damaged in the fighting, at least five medical staff had been killed on duty and more than 40% of medical staff were unable to get to places of work. Critical supplies of medicines and other supplies were almost depleted and damage and destruction of power supplies had left hospitals dependent on unreliable generators.

It now appears that after clearing most of Hamas’ tunnels, Israel may be approaching the end of its bombardment. If so, and for that matter even if it is not, Israel should immediately take all possible steps to provide emergency medical supplies to avert another human tragedy. Whatever its complaints against Hamas, whatever its claims that the brutal assault on the population of Gaza was necessary, it cannot now deny that the many innocent civilians are in dire need of medical attention. If Israel fails now to provide urgently needed medical supplies and assistance it will stand condemned yet again in the eyes of the world, and of the law, of gross criminal behaviour. There is nothing Israel can say that can possibly justify a refusal to send these medical supplies and assistance in the volumes appropriate to the situation, and to do so now.

So let’s return to the baseball analogy with which this blog began.

Israel has now, it is virtually certain, attacked UN shelters three times, either deliberately or through gross negligence, as they had been advised numerous times of the facilities’ coordinates. Three strikes but they are not yet out, because in this ball game, Israel owns the playing field, the bats and balls, and the umpire.

But this time they have gone so far that even their American sponsors are feeling awkward and uncomfortable. And not just uncomfortable in the way you’d feel if your dog had pooped on the neighbour’s doorstep again, or stolen the laundry off the line, or impregnated their pedigree bitch with a mongrel pup. Those are uncomfortable moments, to be sure, but after all it’s your dog and you will never abandon it, and you’ll just have to mutter words of apology to your neighbours and wait for it all to blow over, as you’ve done numerous times already.

No, this time it’s nothing like that. This is not a poop-on-the-doorstep sort of moment. This is a your-pitbull-just-ripped-the-face-off-your-neighbour’s-four-year-old-child sort of moment. It really doesn’t matter whether she pulled his ears or took his food. If that was a dog in your town it would be put down immediately. No ifs, ands or buts. It would just happen.

But do you think America will finally admit this? Not a chance. Because in this town, the guy who owns the dog is also the mayor, the police chief, the newspaper editor and the bank manager, and so things aren’t quite so simple any more.

This is time for America and other apologists for Israel to wake up to the monster they have created by shielding Israel from any accountability for its actions over the last 70 years. It is time, and it should happen.

But it won’t.

If anyone doubts that, and kids themselves that now things might be different, and that America will finally put a leash and muzzle on its dog, just google “USS Liberty 1967” and read about the Israeli attempt to sink a US Navy communications ship that strayed too close to Israel during the 1967 Six Day War, threatening to discover Israeli plans to invade Syria as part of its program to grab as much Arab land as possible. It sounds like some bizarre conspiracy theory, and the truth was covered up on the orders of President Johnson. But it all happened, and both the US Chief of Naval Operations Thomas Moorer and the US Secretary of State Dean Rusk, among others, had no doubt that the attack was deliberate. So if a client state and close ally can conduct a deliberate and sustained attack on a clearly marked US ship, killing 34 and wounding 171 of its sailors, and yet avoid any kind of negative repurcussions, then it will take more than just ripping the face off your neighbour’s child to get this dog under control.

 

Playing politics

How utterly predictable that David Cameron would accuse Ed Miliband of ”playing politics” over the British Government’s failure to condemn Israel’s brutal assault on an innocent, captive population.
 “Playing politics” is that curiously dismissive term used by politicians which is generally reserved:
  • FOR those who have taken a position on principle which is generally recognised as the right thing to do
  • BY those who wish they could take the same position but are prevented from doing so by overriding political priorities.

In this case, the term is used by someone who is at the very centre of UK politics, but who pretends to disdain base political considerations. Yet, it is quite clear that Cameron does so out of fear of provoking the Israeli lobby and losing the votes and campaign donations it wields.

So who’s really playing politics here? Miliband and Clegg, who risk the loss of Jewish votes and contributions in order to speak out against a moral obscenity committed by a nation which regards itself as above international law? Or Cameron, who somehow dares to claim the high moral ground by avoiding a stand on principle in order to protect his votes and campaign chest?

Even the US – Israel’s major sponsor and perennial apologist – has now gone further than ever before in condemning Israeli for its “appalling” and “indefensible” conduct. But still Cameron refuses to be critical of Israel, pretending that by avoiding criticism it may somehow be possible to secure a ceasefire, despite the failure of diplomacy to make any progress in the conflict after decades of treading “softly, softly” with Israel.

Appalling double standards

At long, long last the US finally summons up the moral courage to condemn the outrageous criminal behaviour by Israel in Gaza.

Mind you, it’s only spokesmen for the White House and State Department who dare go so far. Where is the President himself?

As soon as there’s the slightest opportunity to shift criticism away from Israel, he has no trouble making himself available to condemn the reported capture of an Israeli soldier as “barbaric”, and demand his immediate release. (Never mind the fact that the last Israeli captive, Gilad Shalit, acknowledged upon his release that he was treated well by Hamas.)

So where is the President now that Israel has attacked a UN shelter yet again, after similar attacks on schools, hospitals and ambulances? He’s nowhere to be seen. His nameless, faceless functionaries emerge to acknowledge what is obvious to every fair-minded person in the world – which is that Israel is an outlaw state which has learned that there are no limits to the moral outrages it can commit upon a captive population without any fear of being held to account.

And why is this? Because for 70 years it has been sheltered by the US from any penalties for its behaviour. And like so many spoiled brats who are indulged by their parents and shielded from criticism, it soon becomes the bully and then the outright criminal.

Let’s at last see some meaningful action taken to bring Israel’s political and military leaders to the International Criminal Court to face the music for this disgusting moral outrage, as suggested by Geoffrey Robertson this week.

The US rules the world, but Israel rules the US

Spare a moment to sympathise with the US, which since the end of the Cold War has held an unchallenged position as the world’s sole superpower. Now it is being lectured on how to behave by its own client state Israel, whose PM Netanyahu warns them “never to second guess me again”.

How galling, for the folks who make it all possible (through subsidies, intelligence and military assistance) to be told where to get off! It’s bad enough that Israel owns the US Congress and the mainstream media, so as to control the flow of both money and information. But now the Americans aren’t even to be permitted to squeak without prior approval from Netanyahu.

This was after daring to hint at the obvious: that Israel’s brutal onslaught on a captive and innocent population – including targeted attacks on UN shelters – was “totally unacceptable and totally indefensible”. To go this far in rebuking the Israelis was a first for America, although it did nothing to follow up with any meaningful action, despite having the means to do so. On the contrary, it has now re-supplied the Israeli war machine, lest the guns fall silent for want of ammunition. It is also giving extra funding for its Iron Dome system, a marginally successful defence against the barely operative Hamas rockets, which so far have killed just 3 civilians – a figure which has remained static for weeks now.

No doubt grateful for an opportunity to shift attention away from the Israelis, Obama described as “barbaric” the reported capture by Hamas of an Israeli soldier (which turned out to be false). This, despite the fact that Gilad Shalit (the Israeli soldier held from 2006-2011) was given shelter, food and medical care during his captivity, and acknowledged upon release that he had been treated well by Hamas.

How does that “barbarity” compare with the one visited on the helpless population of Gaza day after day, week after week, by one of the most powerful armies on the planet?

 

More rampant hyperbole of Israeli victimhood

The Guardian is to be applauded for its coverage of the ongoing Palestinian plight in Gaza. It presents the horror of their situation in a way that few other news outlets do. Certainly not the American ones, or even the BBC.
However, it published an article yesterday (2 August) which was the most patent nonsense I have yet seen. It was the story by Harriett Sherwood describing how the fear of rockets and capture is hardening public opinion in Israel.
Before proceeding, let me acknowledge that no news outlet can cover a conflict like this without leaving one group or another unhappy. While The Guardian’s coverage has generally been sympathetic to the suffering of a captive population under constant bombardment by the full might of a modern army, I do not expect it to present that side only. A news organisation’s role is not to act as a propaganda machine for either side, but to present its readers with a fair account of the realities that its reporters witness.
In describing the “terror” gripping Israeli residents near the border, however, Harriett Sherwood’s article was one of the most absurd pieces of Israeli dramatic fiction that I have read recently. Let me quote a few passages:
  • Nearly all the children in these agricultural villages have been evacuated. Those who remain live in constant vigilance, awaiting the next alert warning of imminent rocket fire or, worse, a cross-border attack by Gaza militants emerging from the ground via tunnels dug deep beneath the surface.
  • “On Friday, the deepest fear of many was realised with the apparent abduction of a soldier…
  • “It is impossible to overstate the visceral horror with which Israeli Jewish families view such an event.
  • “Soldiers … were constantly fearful of abduction, remembering the fate of Gilad Shalit. “Think about all the mothers who will see their sons in his place.”
  • “Another ventured that kidnapping was possibly worse than death. “I don’t even want to think about the hell he is now going through.”
First, how sweet it would be for the Palestinians to be able to remove their children from all danger, and for those remaining to endure nothing more than “constant vigilance” against a threat which is vanishingly small. Recall that the pretext used to justify this massive Israeli brutality is the Hamas rockets, which have so far killed just 3 Israeli civilians. That is three too many, but it pales into insignificance with the number of equally innocent Palestinians who have no opportunity whatever to escape the horror to which they have been subjected continuously for nearly a month. Theirs is no theoretical and avoidable danger, but a constant and brutally real one.
Second, the idea that “it is impossible to overstate the visceral horror” which underlies “the deepest fear of many” is the sort of palpable nonsense which goes down well in Tel Aviv and Washington, where supporters of Israel like to engage in rampant hyperbole about existential threats to Israel. But it has no place in any reputable publication, unless it is accompanied by some factual commentary to remind its readers of the truth. While no one would want to be deprived of his liberty for 5 years, Shalit’s ordeal was far from being “hell”. Although he was denied visits as required by humanitarian law, he was provided with shelter, food and medical care, and upon his release he acknowledged that “he had been treated well by his Hamas captors”.
Moreover, his army career benefited considerably during the time he was held. Captured as a Corporal, he was promoted three times during his 5 years, to Staff Sergeant, Sergeant First Class, and then Sergeant Major. Surely there are few Corporals in any army who could make the grade of Sergeant Major in such a short time.
If Israeli soldiers feel that kidnapping could be “worse than death”, and “don’t even want to think of the hell he is now going through”, then perhaps they are thinking of the treatment they would be giving captured Palestinian fighters, for they cannot be referring to Shalit’s experience at all.
Harriett Sherwood and anyone else expecting the world to sympathise with the handful of Israeli victims of this so-called “war” should take a reality check before writing such hysterical rubbish.
The Guardian should task one of its sub-editors – or even a rookie reporter – to check Sherwood’s stories more closely in future, to keep this sort of laughable stuff off their pages.