The Guardian has published a tirade against Israel by Patrick Seale, long time apologist for the Assad regime in Syria ( "Anything but negotiation: Palestinian moderates are Israel's real enemies, so it deliberately drives them from the scene" July 3, 2006). Seale accuses Israel of conducting a ruthless operation in Gaza primarily aimed not at reducing the rocket attacks or freeing captured Israeli corporal Gilad Shalit but rather at squelching Palestinian moderates. The piece is riddled with unsubstantiated speculation, exaggerations, distorted language and false assertions.
That Seale sees an Israeli conspiracy in recent events is no surprise. After the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Seale blamed the Israelis "of course," ("Who killed Rafik Hariri?" Guardian,Feb 23, 2005), despite near universal consensus that the Syrians were behind it. Even for the Guardian's low standards of accuracy when reporting on Israel, this piece stands out for its sheer mendacity. Among the more egregious errors appearing in the piece:
- Seale condemns the Israeli operation and claims that as a result of it, Palestinians will naturally "seek revenge" including a "resort to terrorism." In light of the fact that the operation was precipitated by a Palestinian attack on soldiers and the kidnapping of a civilian (an 18 year old man who was subsequently murdered), and in the context of unrelenting Palestinian terrorism of the past six years including hundreds of rocket attacks against the civilians of Sderot, this comment suggests a stunning blindness concerning Palestinian actions.If Israel had not responded to the rocket attacks, the hostage taking and terrorism, does Seale actually think the Palestinian terror would cease? Lack of a military response to violence against Israelis in the past has led to increased terror, not less.
- Seale accuses Israel of using "vastly disproportionate force against Gaza" although one week into the Israeli operation only a handful of Gazans have been killed and not a single civilian among them.
- He warns Israeli commander Dan Halutz that he may find himself a war criminal - a charge he never bandied about when writing of the Assad regime's massacre of thousands of its own civilians in 1982.
- Seale ludicrously denies the obvious, that the Israeli operation is intended to free Corporal Shalit and to deter future hostage taking.
- He claims that Israel intends to "destroy the Hamas government by all possible means because it knows that Hamas's terms for a settlement would be stiffer than it could possibly accept."
It strains credibility to believe that Seale is unaware that Hamas refuses to recognize the right of Israel to exist (see the Hamas Charter) and that no "settlement" short of Israel's destruction would satisfy Hamas.
- "It is no accident that its [Israel's] assault followed immediately on the Palestinian accord." This is a gross misrepresentation of cause and effect. The Palestinian attack occurred on June 26, two days prior to the Palestinian accord and amid rampant speculation that a faction of Hamas led by Khalid Mishal in Syria was opposed to it.
- Downplaying Palestinian provocation, he erroneously claims that the rockets launched from Gaza "have so far not killed anyone." In fact, over the past 5 years, 13 have been killed by rockets from Gaza.
June 28, 2004: Mordechai Yosepov, 49 and Afik Zahavi, 4
Sept. 29, 2004: Yuval Abebeh, 4 and Dorit Benisian, 2
Dec. 14, 2004: a female agricultural worker from Thailand
Jan. 11, 2005: Nissim Arbiv
Jan. 15, 2005: Ayala (Ella) Abukasis
June 7, 2005: Salah Ayash Imran, 57, Muhammed Mahmoud Jaroun, and Bi Shude, 46
July 14, 2005: Dana Galkowicz, 22
March 28, 2006: Salam Ziadin and his 16-year-old son Khalid
- Seale blusters about an alleged double standard the US applies in supporting Israel's right to defend itself, while the "implicit corollary is that no one else has such a right." Governments have the right to defend their citizens, but they do not have the right to engage in state-sponsored terrorism or to offer a safe haven for terrorists.Since Israel is willing to negotiate a reasonable two-state solution with a Palestinian government committed to a permanent peace Palestinian violence and terrorism is particularly unnecessary and counterproductive.
- Seale misrepresents the recent Hamas-Fatah accord, claiming it implicitly recognises Israel, when Hamas officials have repeatedly denied this.
"Israel will do everything to avoid a negotiation. Hence, it deliberately inflicts inhumane hardships on the Palestinians in order to radicalise them and drive the moderates from the scene."
Seale ignores the refusal of Hamas to accept any of the established conditions for meaningful negotiations - recognizing Israel's right to exist, ending violence, and validating past agreements.
One wonders why Seale doesn't discuss Hamas' role (or the role of the many other terror organizations) in intimidating potential Palestinian moderates. Afterall, threats of violence, hostage-taking and murder are tactics that Palestinian thugs use quite often on their own people, not just with Israel.
- Seale's description of the events is unbalanced. He describes the Hamas-led raid as a "cross-border operation by Palestinian guerillas against an Israeli military post" but describes Israel's measured military response as a "destructive rampage in Gaza."