Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

Hamas Agrees to One-Week Cease-Fire in Gaza Conflict

Posted in politics by allisonkilkenny on January 18, 2009

New York Times

Palestinians searched for bodies in the rubble of a building after Israeli forces withdrew from the area east of Gaza City on Sunday. (Khalil Hamra/Associated Press)

Palestinians searched for bodies in the rubble of a building after Israeli forces withdrew from the area east of Gaza City on Sunday. (Khalil Hamra/Associated Press)

JERUSALEM — Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups in Gaza announced an immediate, week-long cease-fire in the conflict with Israel on Sunday, about 12 hours after an Israeli unilateral cease-fire went into effect.

The Palestinian groups said in a statement that they would give Israeli troops a week to leave Gaza. Hamas leaders outside Gaza had previously said the group would continue fighting so long as Israeli troops remained on the ground.

The cease-fire announcement, coming after 22 days of war that killed more than 1,200 Palestinians and 13 Israelis, was confirmed by the Palestinian groups’ exiled leaders meeting in Damascus.

It came after Egypt held talks with Hamas representatives, and as European and Arab leaders gathered in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheik for a summit meeting designed to turn the fragile truce into a more durable arrangement. Egypt has been trying to broker a longer-term deal between Israel and Hamas.

Hamas demands the opening of the crossings on Gaza’s borders, while Israel is seeking an end to weapons smuggling into Gaza across the Egyptian border, and an halt to Hamas rocket fire.

Palestinian militants in Gaza fired about 13 rockets at southern Israel on Sunday morning in the hours after the unilateral cease-fire declared by Israel went into effect. One struck a house in the port city of Ashdod, lightly wounding one Israeli. The Israeli military said it carried out two airstrikes against rocket-launching squads. There were conflicting news reports of casualties in Gaza, with either one man or one girl said to have been killed.

Early Sunday, a Hamas gunman clashed with Israeli troops inside Gaza, but otherwise the situation inside the Palestinian enclave seemed relatively calm, according to residents and health officials.

The breaches were predictable: Israeli officials had said that a flurry of rocket launches, to prove that Hamas is neither cowed nor defeated, was likely for at least a short time. Schools in Israeli cities within rocket range of Gaza were ordered closed for the day.

And while Israel has called off its major offensive against Hamas, political leaders and the military have emphasized that Israel will respond to any attacks.

Israel declared late Saturday that its unilateral cease-fire would begin at 2 a.m. on Sunday, but said its troops would stay in place for now. Some tanks and infantry could be seen leaving Gaza on Sunday morning, but more remained inside.

In announcing that Israeli forces would halt their advance, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert insisted that “we have reached all the goals of the war, and beyond.” Speaking to the nation late Saturday night, he said that Hamas had “suffered a major blow.”

Heavy Israeli bombardment continued in the hours before the cease-fire. And in an attack early Saturday that brought scathing criticism from the United Nations, Israeli tank fire killed two young brothers taking shelter at a United Nations school in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya.

About 1,600 displaced Gazans have taken shelter at the school, run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or Unrwa, which cares for Palestinian refugees from the 1948-49 war and their descendants.

John Ging, the Gaza director of the agency, said that the brothers, ages 5 and 7, were killed about 7 a.m. by Israeli fire at the school. Their mother, who was among 14 others wounded, had her legs blown off.

“These two little boys are as innocent, indisputably, as they are dead,” Mr. Ging said. “The question now being asked is: is this and the killing of all other innocent civilians in Gaza a war crime?”

The strike was the fourth time Israel has hit an Unrwa school during the war on Hamas. On Jan. 6, Mr. Ging said, 43 people died when an Israeli shell hit the compound of a school in Jabaliya. Israel has disputed the death toll and said it had been returning mortar fire from within the school compound.

The Israeli Army said that it was investigating the reports at the highest level, but that initial inquiries indicated that troops were returning fire from near or within the school.

As President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France were hosting the summit meeting in Sharm el Sheik on Sunday, the immediate topics were to be the interdiction of smuggling and the reconstruction of Gaza after the Israeli air and land attack, which has left large areas of the crowded territory in ruins and without basic services like potable water and electricity.

But the shape of any lasting peace was far from clear.

The length of Israel’s occupation of Gaza has now been put in the hands of Hamas. The Israeli government says it will not sign any deal with the group, which is committed to Israel’s destruction and whose rule over Gaza the Israelis do not want to recognize. But Hamas is seen as likely to reassert political control over Gaza.

And Israel and Egypt will be under considerable pressure to reopen its crossings into Gaza for goods, given the size of the reconstruction required, and the crossings for people.

Particularly concerned about limiting smuggling into Gaza, the United States and Israel signed a “memorandum of understanding” on Friday in Washington that calls for expanded cooperation to prevent Hamas from rearming through Egypt. The agreement, which is vague, promises increased American technical assistance and international monitors, presumably to be based in Egypt, to crack down on the smuggling.

As important, the United States agreed to work with NATO partners to interdict arms smuggling into Gaza by land and sea from Syria and Iran, and in a letter, Britain, France and Germany also offered to help.

The summit meeting in Egypt on Sunday will also include Italy; Spain; Turkey; Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general; and a representative of the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank. The United States was to be represented by Margaret Scobey, the ambassador to Egypt.

Although Mr. Sarkozy began the diplomatic process toward a cease-fire with Mr. Mubarak, it has been a deal shaped by Egypt and Israel.

Mr. Mubarak’s foreign minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said that his country would not be bound by the memorandum of understanding agreed to by the United States and Israel and would not accept foreign troops on its soil. But officials of both Israel and the United States say Egypt has been showing a new seriousness about stopping the smuggling.

The Arab and Muslim world again appeared to be split into two camps. Egypt and Saudi Arabia have been openly critical of Hamas, pressing it to agree to a cease-fire. Qatar, meanwhile, which has close ties to both the United States and Iran, held a meeting with Syria, Iran, Mauritania and Hamas’s exiled political leader, Khaled Meshal, as the Palestinian representative. Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority who is supported by the United States and Egypt, had refused to go to Qatar.

Four Israeli soldiers, two of them officers, were seriously hurt by mortar fire in fighting on Saturday morning, the army said, suggesting that they were victims of friendly fire. Five others were also wounded by an antitank missile. While the details are debated and the dead are counted, a critical long-term issue is whether the Gaza operation restores Israel’s deterrent. Israel wants Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and the Arab world to view it as too strong and powerful to seriously threaten or attack. That motivation is one reason, Israeli officials say, for going into Gaza so hard, using such firepower, and fighting Hamas as an enemy army.

The answer will not be known for many months, but the key to the Muslim world’s reaction is actually that of the Israeli public, said Yossi Klein Halevi, of the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies in Jerusalem. “The Arabs take their cue from Israeli responses,” he said. “Deterrence is about how Israelis feel, whether they feel they’ve won or lost.”

Mr. Halevi cited the 1973 war — which Egyptians celebrate and Israelis mourn, though it ended with a spectacular Israel counterattack — and the 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, apologized for the 2006 war on television, “but he quickly reversed himself to declare a wonderful victory when he saw the Israeli public declaring defeat,” Mr. Halevi said.

Even more important, perhaps, this war is a test case for any potential Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank. If Israelis feel that the West Bank will turn into another kind of chaotic, Hamas-run Gaza, they will be unwilling to withdraw — especially if they believe that if they withdrew and were then attacked from the West Bank, they would not be allowed to respond with force.

“Gaza is an important test of whether we can defend ourselves within the 1967 boundaries,” Mr. Halevi said, noting that Hamas had been attacking Israel proper, not settlements. “Will we be able to defend ourselves if we need to from the West Bank? Will the international community let us?”

The Israeli public has stayed united behind the war as a necessary battle, despite serious misgivings about the death toll of Palestinian civilians and international condemnation. Even Meretz, a party of the Israeli left, supported the air war.

Hamas has modeled itself on Hezbollah, calling on Iranian support. Mr. Nasrallah once spoke of Israeli power as a spider web — impressive from afar, but easily brushed aside. This war against Hamas, Mr. Halevi said, “is the revenge of the spider.”

(VIDEO) Palestinian Doctor’s Daughters Killed During Live Israeli TV Report

Posted in politics by allisonkilkenny on January 17, 2009

The Raw Story

drashigazaisraelWar is cruel. But sometimes, a story comes along that redefines what cruel really means.

Saturday morning, a Palestinian doctor who reports for Israel’s channel 10 television witnessed three of his daughters killed by Israeli bombs, even as his first moments of insane panic and grief were broadcast live.

Dr. Ezzeldeen Abu al-Ashi is an uncommon man. A Palestinian who works for an Israeli hospital, Dr. Ashi has been giving Israelis daily reports on the military campaign in Gaza. 

“No one can get to us,” he screamed in Arabic on a live phone call with a channel 10 anchor. “My God … My God …”

Dr. Ashi told the anchor his family had just been killed, and that he was “overwhelmed.” 

“My God … My girls …” he cried. “Shiomi … Can’t anybody help us please?”

The news anchor asked Dr. Ashi where his house is, and cameras followed as the journalist frantically tried to employ his network of contacts to send help to the doctor. Shortly thereafter, the Israeli Army allowed a Palestinian ambulance to speed to his location. 

Only one of al-Ashi’s daughters survived. 

“Everybody in Israel knows that I was talking on television and on the radio,” said Dr. Ashi. “That we are home, that we are innocent people. 

“Suddenly, today, when there was hope for ceasefire, on the last day I was talking to my children … Suddenly, they bombed us; a doctor who takes care of Israeli patients. Is that what’s done? Is that peace?”

Israeli officials said that shells were dropped in response to sniper fire. Eyewitnesses told Al Jazeera this was not the case. 

“But over 90 percent of Israelis still support the war on Gaza, while hundreds of other tragedies remain just a number in a rising Palestinian death toll,” reported Al Jazeera’s Roza Ibragimova.

The following video was published by Al Jazeera English on Jan. 17.

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO

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Israel Declares It Will Cease Fire; U.N. School Hit

Posted in politics by allisonkilkenny on January 17, 2009

New York Times

Smoke rises from Israeli missile strikes in Gaza City on Saturday. (Ali Ali/European Pressphoto Agency)

Smoke rises from Israeli missile strikes in Gaza City on Saturday. (Ali Ali/European Pressphoto Agency)

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel announced late Saturday night that the Israeli military would begin a unilateral cease-fire in Gaza within hours while negotiations continued on how to stop the resupply of Hamas through smuggling from Egypt.

Mr. Olmert, who said all Israeli objectives for the war had been reached, said Israel was responding positively to a call by President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt earlier in the day for an immediate cease-fire, in a clearly orchestrated move by two countries that both see the Hamas movement in Gaza as a threat. Meanwhile, Hamas leaders outside Gaza have insisted that the group will fight on, regardless of any Israeli declaration.

The announcement came on a day in which Israel was again criticized by the United Nations over civilian deaths in Gaza — this time after a tank fired at a United Nations school, killing two young brothers taking shelter there.

United Nations aid officials raised questions about whether the attack, and others like it, should be investigated as war crimes. The Israeli Army said that it was investigating the reports at the highest level but that initial inquiries indicated that troops were returning fire from near or within the school.

The Israeli cease-fire, which becomes effective at 2 a.m. Sunday, could mean an effective end to a three-week-old war that has killed at least 1,200 Palestinians, with more buried under rubble, and 13 Israelis. But even then, the shape of any lasting peace was far from clear.

Israel has signaled that its troops will stay in Gaza until a formal truce is signed that meets Israeli goals of stopping rocket fire from Gaza and sharply hindering the smuggling of arms, weapons, cash and fighters into Gaza through tunnels from Egypt. But the government says it will not sign any deal with Hamas, which is committed to Israel’s destruction and whose rule over Gaza Israel does not want to recognize.

Also, Israeli officials said that they reserved the right to attack again in the future if Hamas kept firing rockets into Israel. Hamas, battered but hardly broken, is expected to reassert its political control over Gaza and to resist any attempt to restore a presence for Fatah, the rival faction that runs the Palestinian Authority, within Gaza.

The announcement of the unilateral cease-fire came on the 22nd day of the war, after repeated calls by the United Nations Security Council and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for an immediate halt to the fighting and the deaths of civilians.

The military said that it struck hundreds of targets overnight, including rocket-launching sites, weapons caches and 70 smuggling tunnels, and that its troops tightened the encirclement of Gaza City.

Though exiled Hamas figures vowed to keep fighting, it was unclear how the cease-fire will be received by leaders within Gaza. The group’s representatives were scheduled to meet Egyptian officials in Cairo who are trying to pull together a sustainable truce of at least a year that will end rocket fire into Israel, hinder Hamas resupply and reopen all the crossings into encircled Gaza from both Israel and Egypt.

Particularly concerned about limiting smuggling, the United States and Israel signed a “memorandum of understanding” on Friday in Washington that calls for expanded cooperation to prevent Hamas from rearming through Egypt. The agreement, which is vague, promises increased American technical assistance and international monitors, presumably to be based in Egypt, to crack down on the smuggling.

As important, the United States agreed to work with NATO partners to interdict arms smuggling into Gaza by land and sea from Syria and Iran, and in a letter, Britain, France and Germany also offered to help interdict the smuggling of arms to Hamas.

On Saturday, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France announced a summit meeting about Gaza for Sunday, of which Mr. Mubarak would be co-chairman. Mr. Sarkozy announced that Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain would attend; Mr. Brown said later he was “considering” attending. Egypt has invited Italy, Spain, Turkey, Mr. Ban and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, whose Fatah party governs the West Bank. The meeting, to take place in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheik, is about bringing a halt to the fighting in a sustainable way and reconstruction aid for Gaza.

While Mr. Sarkozy initiated the process with Mr. Mubarak in the waning days of the Bush administration, it has been in the end a deal shaped by Egypt and Israel.

Mr. Mubarak’s foreign minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said that his country would not be bound by the memorandum of understanding agreed to by the United States and Israel and would not accept foreign troops on its soil. But officials of both Israel and the United States say Egypt has been showing a new seriousness about stopping the smuggling.

The Arab and Muslim world again appeared to be split into two camps. Egypt and Saudi Arabia have been openly critical of Hamas, pressing it to agree to a cease-fire. Qatar, meanwhile, which is close to Iran, held a meeting with Syria, Iran, Mauritania and Hamas’s exiled political leader, Khaled Meshal, as the Palestinian representative. Mr. Abbas, who is supported by the United States and Egypt, had refused to go to Qatar.

In Beit Lahiya, some 1,600 displaced Gazans have taken shelter at a school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or Unrwa, which cares for Palestinian refugees from the 1948-49 war and their descendants.

John Ging, the Gaza director of the agency, said that two brothers, ages 5 and 7, were killed about 7 a.m. by Israeli fire at the school. Their mother, who was among 14 others wounded, had her legs blown off.

“These two little boys are as innocent, indisputably, as they are dead,” Mr. Ging said. “The question now being asked is: is this and the killing of all other innocent civilians in Gaza a war crime?” 

Christopher Gunness, the refugee agency’s spokesman, said: “Where you have a direct hit on an Unrwa school where about 1,600 people had taken refuge, where the Israeli Army knows the coordinates and knows who’s there, where this comes as the latest in a catalogue of direct and indirect attacks on Unrwa facilities, there have to be investigations to establish whether war crimes have been committed,” as well, he added “as violations of international humanitarian law.”

The strike was the fourth time Israel has hit an Unrwa school during the war on Hamas. On Jan. 6, Mr. Ging said, 43 people died when an Israeli shell hit the compound of a school in Jabaliya. Israel has disputed the death toll and said it was returning mortar fire from the school compound.

Four Israeli soldiers, two of them officers, were seriously hurt by mortar fire in fighting on Saturday morning, the army said, suggesting that they were victims of friendly fire. And it said that Hamas had fired 12 rockets at Israel on Saturday, a sharp reduction from daily totals since the start of the war.

While the details are debated and the dead are counted, a critical long-term issue is whether the Gaza operation restores Israel’s deterrent. Israel wants Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and the Arab world to view it as a nation too strong and powerful to seriously threaten or attack. That motivation is one reason, Israeli officials say privately, for going into Gaza so hard, using such firepower, and fighting Hamas as an enemy army.

The answer won’t be known for many months, but the key to the Muslim world’s reaction is actually that of the Israeli public, said Yossi Klein Halevi, of the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies in Jerusalem. “The Arabs take their cue from Israeli responses,” he said. “Deterrence is about how Israelis feel, whether they feel they’ve won or lost.”

Mr. Halevi cited both the 1973 war — which Egyptians celebrate and Israelis mourn, though it ended with a spectacular Israel counterattack — and the 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, apologized for the 2006 war on television, “but he quickly reversed himself to declare a wonderful victory when he saw the Israeli public declaring defeat,” Mr. Halevi said.

Even more important, perhaps, this Gazan war is a test case for any potential Israeli withdrawal from the occupied West Bank. If Israelis feel that the West Bank will turn into another kind of chaotic, Hamas-run Gaza, they will be unwilling to withdraw — especially if they believe that once they withdrew, and if they were attacked from the West Bank, they would not be allowed to respond with force.

“Gaza is an important test of whether we can defend ourselves within the 1967 boundaries,” Mr. Halevi said, noting that Hamas had been attacking Israel proper, not settlements. “Will we be able to defend ourselves if we need to from the West Bank? Will the international community let us?”

The Israeli public has stayed united behind the war as a necessary battle, despite serious misgivings about the death toll of Palestinian civilians and international condemnation. Even Meretz, a party on the left of Israeli politics, supported the air war.

Hamas has modeled itself on Hezbollah, calling on Iranian support. Mr. Nasrallah once spoke of Israeli power as a spider web — impressive from afar, but easily brushed aside. This war against Hamas, Mr. Halevi said, “is the revenge of the spider.”

(VIDEO) Israel Hits UN Headquarters with White Phosphorous Shells

Posted in politics by allisonkilkenny on January 15, 2009

Guardian UK

un-logo-copyThe headquarters of the UN refugee agency was on fire today after coming under attack as Israeli forces pushed deeper into Gaza City, unleashing the heaviest shelling of densely packed neighbourhoods since the military operation began nearly three weeks ago.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, expressed “strong protest and outrage” and demanded an investigation into why there was an attack on the compound of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), a well-known location in Gaza marked with blue UN flags. The number of casualties in the Gaza Strip, now 1,055 according to local UN officials, had “reached an unbearable point”, Ban added.

As an Israeli envoy arrived in Cairo to take part in Egyptian-brokered talks on a possible ceasefire, the UN chief said there was no reason why the fighting could not stop immediately. “I believe that elements are in place for the violence to end now,” he said in Tel Aviv, the latest stop on his peace mission.

Gordon Brown described the shelling of the UN compound as “indefensible” and “unacceptable” and called for a ceasefire.

“The UN’s mission in Gaza is purely humanitarian, bringing relief to civilians suffering in appalling conditions as a result of the ongoing military action and restrictions on food and medical supplies entering Gaza,” the prime minister said. “UN staff are working on behalf of the international community – any attack on them is unacceptable, as Israel has acknowledged.”

A warehouse containing tonnes of relief supplies was ablaze after the compound was hit by what a UNRWA spokesman, Chris Gunness, said appeared to be three white phosphorous shells.

Three people were reported to be injured – one UN staff member and two of the estimated 700 local people who had taken shelter from the violence.

Relief operations had been temporarily held up but were not being suspended, Gunness said.

John Ging, the head of UN operations in Gaza, told al-Jazeera television: “This is going to burn down the entire warehouse … thousands and thousands of tonnes of food, medical supplies and other emergency assistance is there.”

He said the phosphorus fires were hard to extinguish “because if you put water on it, it will just generate toxic fumes and do nothing to stop the burning”. Phosphorous munitions are banned under international law as a weapon but permitted if used to create a smokescreen.

Ban said he had demanded a full explanation from Israel’s foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, and the defence minister, Ehud Barak.

“The defence minister said to me it was a grave mistake and he took it very seriously. He assured me that extra attention will be paid to UN facilities and staff and this will not be repeated,” Ban said.

The AFP news agency quoted witnesses as saying that a fire had broken out after an Israeli strike in a wing of al-Quds hospital in south-west Gaza City, where hundreds more people took shelter early today from advancing Israeli tanks. It was not clear if there were any injuries.

The news agency Reuters reported that a missile or shell had struck the Gaza tower block where it and other media organisations have offices. The 13th floor of al-Shurouq Tower, which houses Abu Dhabi television, appeared to have been hit, injuring one of its journalists.

Israeli forces were reported to be closing in on the outskirts of Gaza City, targeting 70 sites overnight and forcing thousands more Palestinians to flee their homes. It is not clear whether this morning’s offensive marks another escalation in the conflict or a brief foray ahead of a possible ceasefire.

Israel’s envoy Amos Gilad flew into Cairo today for talks with Egyptian mediators. He will not meet any of the Hamas representatives who are also in Egypt’s capital.

An Israeli government spokesman, Mark Regev, said Gilad was there to discuss the “parameters of the endgame” – a goal that was “close and attainable”. Regev said: “There is momentum in these discussions. We are hopeful that a deal will be based on a total cessation of Hamas fire into Israel and an arms embargo to prevent Hamas from rearming.”

The Egyptian plan appears to begin with a ceasefire of a week or 10 days, during which all fighting would stop but Israeli troops would remain on the ground in Gaza. Talks would then be held on the more difficult questions of stopping the smuggling of weapons to Hamas and lifting Israel’s long economic blockade of the Gaza Strip.

However, it is thought Hamas’s conditions for any deal would probably include an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces the moment a ceasefire started. That may prove too much for Israel to accept.

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO
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Thomas Friedman Advocates War Crimes

Posted in war crimes by allisonkilkenny on January 14, 2009

FAIR/Glenn Greenwald

Terrorism on the New York Times Op-Ed Page

Friedman supports civilian suffering as “education”

New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas Friedman endorsed terrorism in a January 14 column defending Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip.

To answer his own question about Israel’s plan–“What is the goal?”–Friedman referred back to the 2006 attacks on Lebanon, which killed about 1,000 Lebanese civilians. To Friedman, this was the “education” of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah:

Israel’s counterstrategy was to use its air force to pummel Hezbollah and, while not directly targeting the Lebanese civilians with whom Hezbollah was intertwined, to inflict substantial property damage and collateral casualties on Lebanon at large. It was not pretty, but it was logical. Israel basically said that when dealing with a nonstate actor, Hezbollah, nested among civilians, the only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians–the families and employers of the militants–to restrain Hezbollah in the future.

The “logical” plan, as Friedman explained it, is to punish civilians in the hopes that this will force the political change you prefer. This is precisely the “logic” of terrorists. 

According to Friedman, this “education” worked on Hezbollah, and he hopes it will work in the current conflict: “In Gaza, I still can’t tell if Israel is trying to eradicate Hamas or trying to ‘educate’ Hamas, by inflicting a heavy death toll on Hamas militants and heavy pain on the Gaza population.” Friedman’s preference is for the terrorism “education.” 

This pro-terrorism argument has been made before by Friedman, who advocated the same sort of terror against Serbs, writing (4/6/99) that “people tend to change their minds and adjust their goals as they see the price they are paying mount. Twelve days of surgical bombing was never going to turn Serbia around. Let’s see what 12 weeks of less than surgical bombing does. Give war a chance.”

The New York Times has developed certain rules and guidelines for its opinion columnists over the years–they are not permitted to endorse political candidates, and they are generally expected to refrain from criticizing one another by name in print. Other policies have been made clear in the past–as when liberal columnist Paul Krugman was instructed not to refer to George W. Bush as “lying” during the 2000 campaign (Washington Post1/22/03).

Does the Times have a similar standard for columnists who endorse inflicting suffering on civilians? Or does the acceptability of advocating terrorism depend on who is being terrorized?

ACTION: Ask the Times if Thomas Friedman’s column advocating terrorism against civilians in Gaza meets the paper’s standards for its opinion columns.

CONTACT:
New York Times

Public Editor
Clark Hoyt
public@nytimes.com
(212) 556-7652

Editorial Page Editor
Andrew Rosenthal
editorial@nytimes.com

You can post copies of your letters to the New York Times on FAIR’s blog here. Please remember that letters that maintain a civil tone are most effective. 

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Tom Friedman offers a perfect definition of “terrorism”

Glenn Greenwald

(Updated below – Update II – Update III – Update IV)

Tom Friedman, one of the nation’s leading propagandists for the Iraq War and a vigorous supporter of all of Israel’s wars, has a column today in The New York Times explaining and praising the Israeli attack on Gaza.  For the sake of robust and diverse debate (for which our Liberal Media is so well known), Friedman’s column today appears alongside an Op-Ed from The Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg, one of the nation’s leading (and most deceitful) propagandists for the Iraq War and a vigorous supporter of all of Israel’s wars, who explains that Hamas is incorrigibly hateful and radical and cannot be negotiated with.  One can hardly imagine a more compelling exhibit demonstrating the complete lack of accountability in the “journalism” profession — at least for those who are loyal establishment spokespeople who reflexively cheer on wars — than a leading Op-Ed page presenting these twowar advocates, of all people, as experts, of all things, on the joys and glories of the latest Middle East war.

In any event, Friedman’s column today is uncharacteristically and refreshingly honest.  He explains that the 2006 Israeli invasion and bombing of Lebanon was, contrary to conventional wisdom, a great success.  To make this case, Friedman acknowledges that the deaths of innocent Lebanese civilians was not an unfortunate and undesirable by-product of that war, but rather, was a vital aspect of the Israeli strategy — the centerpiece, actually, of teaching Lebanese civilians a lesson they would not soon forget:

Israel’s counterstrategy was to use its Air Force to pummel Hezbollah and, while not directly targeting the Lebanese civilians with whom Hezbollah was intertwined, to inflict substantial property damage and collateral casualties on Lebanon at large. It was not pretty, but it was logical. Israel basically said that when dealing with a nonstate actor, Hezbollah, nested among civilians, the only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians — the families and employers of the militants — to restrain Hezbollah in the future.

Israel’s military was not focused on the morning after the war in Lebanon — when Hezbollah declared victory and the Israeli press declared defeat. It was focused on the morning after the morning after, when all the real business happens in the Middle East. That’s when Lebanese civilians, in anguish, said to Hezbollah: “What were you thinking? Look what destruction you have visited on your own community! For what? For whom?”

Friedman says that he is “unsure” whether the current Israeli attack on Gaza is similiarly designed to teach Palestinians the same lesson by inflicting “heavy pain” on civilians, but he hopes it is:

In Gaza, I still can’t tell if Israel is trying to eradicate Hamas or trying to “educate” Hamas, by inflicting a heavy death toll on Hamas militants and heavy pain on the Gaza population. If it is out to destroy Hamas, casualties will be horrific and the aftermath could be Somalia-like chaos. If it is out to educate Hamas, Israel may have achieved its aims.

The war strategy which Friedman is heralding — what he explicitly describes with euphemism-free candor as “exacting enough pain on civilians” in order to teach them a lesson — is about as definitive of a war crime as it gets.  It also happens to be the classic, textbook definition of “terrorism.”  Here is how the U.S. Department of State defined “terrorism” in its 2001 publication, Patterns of Global Terrorism:

No one definition of terrorism has gained universal acceptance. For the purposes of this report, however, we have chosen the definition of terrorism contained in Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2656f(d). That statute contains the following definitions:

The term “terrorism” means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant (1) targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience. . . .

(1) For purposes of this definition, the term “noncombatant” is interpreted to include, in addition to civilians, military personnel who at the time of the incident are unarmed and/or not on duty.

Other than the fact that Friedman is advocating these actions for an actual state rather than a “subnational group,” can anyone identify any differences between (a) what Friedman approvingly claims was done to the Lebanese and what he advocates be done to Palestinians and (b) what the State Department formally defines as “terrorism”?  I doubt anyone can.  Isn’t Friedman’s “logic” exactly the rationale used by Al Qaeda:  we’re going to inflict “civilian pain” on Americans so that they stop supporting their government’s domination of our land and so their government thinks twice about bombing more Muslim countries?  It’s also exactly the same “logic” that fuels the rockets from Hezbollah and Hamas into Israel.

It should be emphasized that the mere fact that Tom Friedman claims that this is Israel’s motivation isn’t proof that it is.  The sociopathic lust of a single war cheerleader can’t fairly be projected onto those who are actually prosecuting the war.  But one can’t help noticing that this “teach-them-a-lesson” justification for civilian deaths in Gaza appears with some frequency among its advocates, at least among a certain strain of super-warrior, Israel-centric Americans —e.g.:  Marty “do not fuck with the Jews” Peretz and Michael “to wipe out a man’s entire family, it’s hard to imagine that doesn’t give his colleagues at least a moment’s pause” Goldfarb — who love to cheer on Middle East wars from a safe and sheltered distance. 

Some opponents of the Israeli war actually agree with Friedman about the likely goals of the attack on Gaza.  Writing last week in The New York Times, Columbia Professor Rashid Khalidi noted:

This war on the people of Gaza isn’t really about rockets. Nor is it about “restoring Israel’s deterrence,” as the Israeli press might have you believe. Far more revealing are the words of Moshe Yaalon, then the Israeli Defense Forces chief of staff, in 2002: “The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.”

This AP article yesterday described how “terrified residents ran for cover Tuesday in a densely populated neighborhood of Gaza City as Israeli troops backed by tanks thrust deeper into the city.”  It reported that “an Israeli warplane fired a missile at the former Gaza city hall, used as a court building in recent years . . . . The 1910 structure was destroyed and many stores in the market around it were badly damaged.”  And it quoted an Israeli military officer as follows:  “Soldiers shoot at anything suspicious, use lots of firepower, and blast holes through walls to move around.”

The efficacy of Friedman’s desired strategy of inflicting pain on Palestinian civilians in order to change their thinking and behavior is unclear.  The lack of clarity is due principally to the fact that Israel is still blocking journalists from entering Gaza.  But this Sunday’s New York Times article — reporting on unconfirmed claims that Israel was using white phosphorus on the civilian population (a claim the IDF expressly refused to deny) — contains this anecdotal evidence that The Friedman Strategy is actually quite counter-productive:

Still, white phosphorus can cause injury, and a growing number of Gazans report being hurt by it, including in Beit Lahiya, Khan Yunis, and in eastern and southwestern Gaza City. When exposed to air, it ignites, experts say, and if packed into an artillery shell, it can rain down flaming chemicals that cling to anything they touch.

Luay Suboh, 10, from Beit Lahiya, lost his eyesight and some skin on his face Saturday when, his mother said, a fiery substance clung to him as he darted home from a shelter where his family was staying to pick up clothes.

The substance smelled like burned trash, said Ms. Jaawanah, the mother who fled her home in Zeitoun, who had experienced it too. She had no affection for Hamas, but her sufferings were changing that. “Do you think I’m against them firing rockets now?” she asked, referring to Hamas. “No. I was against it before. Not anymore.”

It’s far easier to imagine a population subjected to this treatment becoming increasingly radicalized and belligerent rather than submissive and compliant, as Friedman intends.  But while the efficacy of The Friedman Strategy is unclear, the fact that it is a perfect distillation of a “war crime” and “terrorism” is not unclear at all.

One might ordinarily find it surprising that our elite opinion-makers are so openly and explicitly advocating war crimes and terrorism (“inflict substantial property damage and collateral casualties on Lebanon at large” and “‘educate’ Hamas by inflicting heavy pain on the Gaza population”).  But when one considers that most of this, in the U.S., is coming from the very people who applied the same “suck-on-this” reasoning to justify the destruction of Iraq, and even more so, when one considers that our highest political officials are now so openly — even proudly — acknowledging their own war crimes, while our political and media elites desperately (and almost unanimously) engage in every possible maneuver to protect them from any consequences from that, Friedman’s explicit advocacy of these sorts of things is a perfectly natural thing to see.

UPDATE:   In comments, casual_observer — with ample citations — objects to my characterization of white phosphorus reports in Gaza as “unconfirmed,” and argues that while the substance does have permissible and legitimate uses under the laws of war, this particular usage in urban areas can be used to sow terror in the civilian population — i.e., is an ideal instrument for advancing The Friedman Strategy. 

Quite relatedly, Iraq War veteran Brandon Friedman chronicles the truly disturbed warrior fantasies that are becoming increasingly common (and increasingly disturbed) on the war-cheerleading Right.  The relationship between that pathology and people like Friedman is too obvious to require any elaboration.

UPDATE II:   In response to multiple comments protesting that Israel does not seek to kill civilians, permit me to make clear, again, that the criticism here is directed towards Tom Friedman’s claims about what Israel’s motives are and should be in bombing and invading Lebanon and Gaza.  I’m not assuming that those are actually Israel’s motives and stressed that point as clearly as the English language permits:

It should be emphasized that the mere fact that Tom Friedman claims that this is Israel’s motivation isn’t proof that it is. The sociopathic lust of a single war cheerleader can’t fairly be projected onto those who are actually prosecuting the war.

The other point worth noting is that for an American citizen to criticize Israel’s wars without criticizing every similar or worse act of aggression is not to “hold Israel to a higher or different standard.”  The U.S. Government funds Israel’s actions, specifically provides the arms for their various bombing campaigns and invasions, and continuously uses its U.N. veto power to protect what Israel does.  American citizens therefore bear a responsibility for Israel’s actions that is not the case for actions which the U.S. Government does not fund and otherwise enable.  

This objection (“why are you complaining about Israel but not the rebels in Sri Lanka?”) rests on the same fallacy as the accusation that American citizens are being “anti-American” when they criticize the actions of their own government more than the actions of other governments (“Why are you complaining that Bush waterboards when North Korea starves its citizens to death and Iran stones gay people?”).  Citizens bear a particular responsibility to object to unjust actions which their own Government engages in or enables.  It shouldn’t be the case — but it is — that Americans fund, arm and enable Israel’s wars.  Those are American weapons which, at least in part, are being used to destroy Gaza, and Americans therefore bear a special responsibility for condemning Israel’s unjust actions to a far greater extent than the actions of any other country except for the U.S.

One final note:  the fact that all sorts of prior wars, including ones waged by Western powers, contain events that could comfortably fit the definition of “terrorism” isn’t a refutation of the point I’m making.  If anything, it bolsters the point.  “Terrorism” is probably the single most elastic and easily manipulated term in our political lexicon.  Who the perpetrators and victims are of “terrorism” is almost always a function of who is wielding the term rather than some objective assessment.  Aimlessly shooting rockets towards civilians (as Hamas and Hezbollah do) and dropping bombs from 35,000 feet that you know will slaughter many civilians while viewing that slaughter as a strategic benefit (as Friedman advocates) are acts that have far more in common with each other than differences.

UPDATE III:   The New York Times today reports (h/t Andrew Sullivan):  

Nine Israeli human rights groups called on Wednesday for an investigation into whether Israeli officials had committed war crimes in Gaza since tens of thousands of civilians there have nowhere to flee, the health system has collapsed, many are without electricity and running water, and some are beyond the reach of rescue teams. . . .

The group included the Israel section of Amnesty International, B’Tselem, Gisha and Physicians for Human Rights — Israel.

It really ought to be too obvious to require pointing out:  to oppose the Israeli war in Gaza and to be horrified by what they are doing to Palestinian civilians no more makes someone “anti-Israel” or “pro-Hamas” than opposing and condemning the Iraq War and being horrified by what we did to that country makes someone “anti-American” or “pro-Saddam.”

On a different note, another new poll — this one from Pew — shows Americans, and especially Democrats, deeply divided on what U.S. policy towards Israel should be in this case.  While a plurality of Americans sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians and blame Hamas more than Israel for the outbreak of violence, Democrats overwhelmingly disapprove of the Israeli action in Gaza (29-45%), and a majority of Democrats believe either (a) “the U.S. should say or do nothing” (40%) or (b) “the U.S. should criticize Israel” (12%).  Only 34% of Democrats believe that the U.S. “should publicly support Israel” (34%).  Despite that, their representatives in Congressvoted almost unanimously to adopt a one-sided Resolution publicly declaring America’s support for Israel’s attack on Gaza.

UPDATE IV:  Daniel Larison, as usual, is well worth reading today on this topic.

Meanwhile, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting  — in an item entitled “Terrorism on the New York Times Op-Ed Page” — examines Friedman’s history of making similar statements, and raises this question:  is it even possible to imagine an Op-Ed or column being published by a major newspaper that enthusiastically trumpeted all of the great strategic benefits that would accrue to Muslims from the violent deaths of large numbers of Israeli civilians, the way Friedman today did with regard to the deaths of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians?

Part 2 of Drunken Politics’ Interview with Palestinian Poet and Activist, Remi Kanazi

Posted in politics by allisonkilkenny on January 14, 2009

Part 2: http://www.breakthruradio.com/index.php?show=5866

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Click here to buy on Amazon!

Every Wednesday on BTR

Every Wednesday on BTR

We highly recommend you pick up a copy of Remi’s excellent book, Poets For Palestine. It includes wonderful poetry and Palestinian art. Proceeds go to charity. 

Born in Western Massachusetts, Remi Kanazi is a Palestinian American poet and writer living in New York City. Much of his writing and poetry focuses on Palestinian life and politics. Remi is the co-founder and primary writer for the political website www.PoeticInjustice.net.

Remi spoke with Drunken Politics about the situation in Gaza. He’s smart AND funny…wow!

Listen to Part 1 of the interview here!

Israel Bans Arab Parties From Running In Upcoming Elections

Posted in politics by allisonkilkenny on January 14, 2009

Haaretz

arab-israeli-conflict-3The Central Elections Committee (CEC) yesterday banned the Arab parties United Arab List-Ta’al and Balad from running in next month’s parliamentary elections amid accusations of racism from Arab MKs. Both parties intend to challenge the decision in the Supreme Court.

Members of the CEC conceded yesterday that the chance of the Supreme Court’s upholding the ban on both parties was slim.

Arab faction delegates in the CEC walked out of the hall before the vote, shouting, “this is a fascist, racist state.” As they walked out, CEC deputy chairman MK David Tal (Kadima) and the Arab delegates pushed each other and a Knesset guard had to intervene and separate them.

The CEC voted overwhelmingly in favor of the motions, accusing the country’s Arab parties of incitement, supporting terrorist groups and refusing to recognize Israel’s right to exist.

The requests to ban the Arab parties were filed by two ultra right parties Yisrael Beiteinu and National Union-National Religious Party.

Senior Labor Party figures lashed out at the party’s CEC representative, Eitan Cabel, who voted in favor of banning the two Arab parties.

“[MK] Shelly Yachimovich and I thought we must object to the move to ban the Arab lists for reasons of freedom of expression,” said Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog. “The minority’s right to be heard must be preserved,” he said.

MK Ophir Pines (Labor) said from overseas that he strongly objected to Labor’s stance in the vote and that it was not the position that had been agreed on.

Labor chairman Ehud Barak, however, did not comment on the vote and his aides said he would not deal with political issues these days.

Cabel tried to explain his support of the ban, despite Labor’s decision to vote against it.

“It’s true we said we wouldn’t ban, but [Balad leader MK Jamal] Zahalka’s statement that he was in touch with Bishara led me to think that we must draw the line somewhere,” he said. “I’m making no apologies because I fight more than most in the Knesset for equal rights for Arabs. I know it won’t stand up in the Supreme Court, and rightly so, because there is no evidentiary basis for the [committee’s] decision.”

Members of the the new Meretz alignment reacted angrily to the decision.

“Labor and Kadima’s position is a declaration of war on Israel’s Arab citizens,” a party member said. “Do Barak and Livni really prefer blocking Israel’s Arabs’ right to parliamentary activity and driving them to street demonstrations?”

“Every time a clear statement to ensure basic civil rights of the Arab minority is required, Labor and Kadima choose to side with the radical right wing for populist motives, to deprive the Arabs of their fundamental democratic rights,” party chairman Haim Oron said.

Arab lawmakers Ahmed Tibi and Zahalka, political rivals who head the two Arab blocs in the Knesset, joined together in condemning yesterday’s decision.

“It was a political trial led by a group of fascists and racists who are willing to see the Knesset without Arabs and want to see the country without Arabs,” said Tibi.

Pro-Israel Supporters Praise Gaza Assault as Justified Despite Mounting Civilian Death Toll

Posted in politics by allisonkilkenny on January 13, 2009

Max Blumenthal, Democracy Now

israeldemowebOn Sunday, thousands turned out in New York for a rally to support the attack on Gaza. Speakers included New York Senator Chuck Schumer and Governor David Paterson. The journalist Max Blumenthal, also a Jewish American, spoke to some of the demonstrators. 

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE

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Israel: United, Except When It’s Not

Posted in media, politics by allisonkilkenny on January 13, 2009

189356476_6fb3c658c8According to our stellar American media, Israelis are united behind their country’s military actions in Gaza.

New York Times:

JERUSALEM — To Israel’s critics abroad, the picture could not be clearer: Israel’s war in Gaza is a wildly disproportionate response to the rockets of Hamas, causing untold human suffering and bombing an already isolated and impoverished population into the Stone Age, and it must be stopped.Yet here in Israel very few, at least among the Jewish population, see it that way.

It’s very east to make generalities like that when one doesn’t include Israeli dissidents, who are jailed when protesting the war against the Palestinian people:

Israel National News:

Five leftist protesters were arrested Saturday night at a demonstration in Tel Aviv against the IDF’s operation in Gaza. The marchers attempted to enter the Ministry of Defense compound but were prevented from advancing by police. One demonstrator was injured. 

Protesters said that the Gaza operation would not contribute to the security of the country. “No one can say that a massacre of Gaza residents will protect the residents of Sderot and Ashkelon,” one of the protesters told a reporter from the Hebrew-language newspaper Haaretz.

 

Israel: United is a convenient slogan when one completely neglects to mention the hundreds of Israeli Arabs, who apparently don’t count when referring to this vague concept known as “Israel.”

Haaretz:

Seven hundred protesters against the Israel Defense Forces operation in Gaza, mostly Israeli Arabs or residents of East Jerusalem, have been arrested since the operation began, and dozens have been indicted. The protesters, 226 of whom are still in custody, are suspected of involvement in disturbances, illegal demonstrations or stone-throwing, police said. Of the detainees, 237 are minors. Most of the protests that led to arrests took place in Jerusalem or the north. 

 
Protest isn’t limited to the civilian population. Haaretz reports that an Israeli soldier has been jailed after refusing to fight in Gaza:

An Israel Defense Forces reserves soldier, taking part in Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip which entered its 17th day on Monday, has refused to enter the Hamas-ruled territory along with his unit in protest of the killing of Palestinian civilians.

On Monday it emerged that the soldier has been jailed for 14 days in a military facility. He was the first soldier to be tried for refusing orders since the beginning of the operation.

And what does the Times say of all of this?

But voices of dissent in this country have been rare.

Oh. Well, I guess they’re rare if you don’t report them.

Few in U.S. See Jazeera’s Coverage of Gaza War

Posted in media by allisonkilkenny on January 12, 2009

New York Times

aljazeeraLast June, Al Jazeera English produced a report from Gaza about a young couple who were preparing to marry during the relative calm of the cease-fire between Hamas and the Israeli government, a time when they could finally shop for furniture and, as the reporter put it, let themselves “dream that a happy life together is within reach.”

Now that reporter, Ayman Mohyeldin, a former CNN producer, can be seen with a helmet and flak jacket answering questions from an anchor back in the studio in Doha, Qatar, describing the Israeli bombing and ground campaign in Gaza intended to stop Hamas missiles from being fired into Israel.

In a conflict where the Western news media have been largely prevented from reporting from Gaza because of restrictions imposed by the Israeli military, Al Jazeera has had a distinct advantage. It was already there.

There are six reporters in Gaza, two working for Al Jazeera English and four working for the much larger and more popular Arabic version of the network, which was created in 1996 with a $150 million grant from the emir of Qatar, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. Al Jazeera describes itself on the air as “the only international broadcaster with a presence there.”

While getting to the story has not been an insurmountable problem for Al Jazeera English’s journalists — they are, in effect, surrounded by it — getting their reports to the English-speaking public has been a bit trickier. The network is largely unavailable in the United States, carried only by cable providers in Burlington, Vt.; Toledo, Ohio; and Washington, D.C. (In Burlington, the local government last summer rejected public calls for the city-owned cable provider, Burlington Telecom, to drop the channel.)

By contrast, Al Jazeera’s English-language service can be seen in over 100 countries via cable and satellite, according to Molly Conroy, a spokeswoman for the network in Washington.

Recognizing that its material from Gaza will have influence in the United States only if it is highly accessible online, Al Jazeera has aggressively experimented with using the Internet to distribute the information it has gathered.

For example, Mohamed Nanabhay, the 29-year-old executive who established Al Jazeera’s new-media group, beginning in late 2006, said that Al Jazeera planned to announce this week that all its video material of the war in Gaza would become available under the most lenient Creative Commons license, which basically means it can be used by anyone — rival broadcaster, documentary maker or individual blogger, for example — as long as Al Jazeera is credited.

Also, it currently streams its broadcasts in a variety of formats and has a dedicated channel on YouTube with more than 6,800 videos.

Al Jazeera said that since the war started the number of people watching its broadcasts via the Livestation service has increased by over 500 percent, and the views of videos on its YouTube channel have increased by more than 150 percent.

Also, Al Jazeera has created a Twitter feed on the “war on Gaza,” which provides frequent short messages that refer the public to new material that can be viewed online. During the weekend, there were more than 4,600 followers, not including the many more who view those short messages, called “tweets,” online. The Twitter feeds are also streamed onto Al Jazeera’s English Web site.

And unlike purely commercial broadcasters, Al Jazeera does not have to accompany its new-media strategies with revised new-media business models.

“Part of our mission, our mandate, is to get our news out,” Mr. Nanabhay said. “We don’t have the direct commercial pressures that others have. If we can make some money that is great.”

The near-total blackout in the United States is no doubt related to the sharp criticism Al Jazeera received from the United States government during the initial stages of the war in Iraq for its coverage of the American invasion. Officials like Vice President Dick Cheney and the defense secretary at the time, Donald Rumsfeld, said the network’s reporting was inflammatory, irresponsible and frequently misleading.

And in Israel, where news media commonly quote from material on Al Jazeera, the network is frequently criticized for inflaming the Arab public by running unfiltered and out-of-context videotape showing blood and gore in battle zones.

Al Jazeera officials respond that they are being blamed for accurately reporting what is going on in the world from an Arab perspective.

Al Jazeera’s coverage of the Israeli military campaign from Gaza includes reports on civilians killed and made homeless by the attacks as well as on clashes between Hamas fighters and Israeli troops. In a recent segment, Mr. Mohyeldin played exclusive videotape of what appeared to be a Hamas sniper’s killing of an Israeli tank commander; the reporter repeatedly cautioned that what was being shown could not be independently confirmed.

Nonetheless, the dearth of distribution in the United States means that the dispatches from Mr. Mohyeldin and others reach America almost exclusively via the Internet.

The report on the couple shopping for furniture in Gaza City, for example, had been viewed nearly 6,000 times on YouTube, generating more than 100 comments in the six months it had been available; the report on the videotape of Hamas militants in action has been viewed nearly 150,000 times in less than three days, with more than 700 comments.

The network has begun its first ad campaign in the United States to publicize its Web site, since reaching Americans would seem to be at the heart of Al Jazeera’s mission.

“It is something on our minds, we think about the U.S. market,” said Mr. Nanabhay, who is now the co-chairman of a “digital leap committee” for Al Jazeera English. But he said, “even if the U.S. market were completely open, we would still be innovating.”

According to Mr. Nanabhay, and another new-media evangelist within Al Jazeera, Riyaad Minty, a 24-year-old South African who is a senior analyst at the network, the Gaza crisis is helping to convince their superiors of the power of the Internet to tell a sprawling story that unfolds over weeks or perhaps months.

Thus far, however, Al Jazeera has largely stayed away from the blogging that is common on news sites, though that is being reconsidered, Mr. Nanabhay said.

“Especially during these crises, they present a lot of opportunity to use these tools, and the value becomes apparent very quickly,” Mr. Nanabhay said.

Mr. Minty has been focusing on the introduction of a platform at aljazeera.net to allow the public to contribute opinion or “citizen journalism,” ideas that he said were still new to the Arab world.

He said the site gets many contributions, particularly video comments and other content, from people in the West.

CLICK HERE TO SEE VIDEOS FROM AL-JAZEERA

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