Among Religious Groups, Jewish Americans Most Strongly Oppose War

Jews for PeaceThe Gallup News service reports:

“An analysis of Gallup Poll data collected since the beginning of 2005 finds that among the major religious groups in the United States, Jewish Americans are the most strongly opposed to the Iraq war. Catholics and Protestants are more or less divided in their views on the war, while Mormons are the most likely to favor it. Those with no religious affiliation also oppose the war, but not to the same extent that Jewish people do. The greater opposition to the war is not simply a result of high Democratic identification among U.S. Jews, as Jews of all political persuasions are more likely to oppose the war than non-Jews who share the same political leanings.”

It’s very interesting data… You can see the original Gallup release here.

Israel should compensate damage in Lebanon

Reuters reports:

A United Nations human rights inquiry said on Friday that Israel should be made to pay compensation for damage caused by its month-long war in Lebanon, especially losses incurred by civilians.

It suggested setting up an international compensation programme similar to the one which has paid out billions of dollars to cover losses due to Iraq’s 1990-91 invasion and occupation of Kuwait.

Full Story

Jewish Groups To Challenge Ethics Reform

Nathan Guttman reports in The Forward:

Two of America’s most influential Jewish organizations are gearing up for their first direct confrontation with the incoming, Democratic-led Congress. The topic: Democratic proposals for congressional ethics and lobbying reform.

At issue are two key congressional perks, targeted for elimination, that Jewish organizations rely on to achieve community goals: overseas junkets, including dozens of trips to Israel each year, funded by Jewish organizations; and an estimated $25 million a year in earmarked funds for Jewish communal projects. Both the trips and the earmarked funding face possible elimination as part of the Democrats’ pledge to fight corruption on Capitol Hill.
[...]
Most of the junkets are sponsored by the main pro-Israel lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, through its sister organization, the American Israel Education Foundation.

Full story

War news round-up

censorshipHa’aretz reports:

Some 160 infantry reserve soldiers are accusing their commanders of preventing them from participating in a demonstration against the war in Lebanon, which they called a “debacle.” The soldiers said they had been used as “sitting ducks.”

“I’ve been in the army and reserves for 26 years and what happened this time was not merely a fiasco, it was a complete debacle. We felt like tin soldiers in a game of Olmert and Peretz’s assistants and spin masters,” said Avi, a soldier in the brigade.

At noon yesterday 160 brigade soldiers signed a request to take part in the demonstration that would call on the resignation of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz. However, their release was put off until today, preventing them from reaching the protest.

They wanted to protest not only the army’s moves in Lebanon but the decisions of their commanders, whom they accuse of sending them needlessly to their death.

Full story.

[UPDATE] And, in related news: also from Ha’aretz:

Senior Israel Defense Forces officers expressed dissatisfaction yesterday with the announcement by Chief of Staff Dan Halutz that he had recently instructed the Field Security Directorate at the General Staff to keep track of their telephone conversations.

According to a report in Haaretz yesterday, Halutz instructed the Field Security Directorate to provide him with the telephone logs of the generals, their department heads and their secretaries, in order to crosscheck whether they have had contacts with journalists.
[...]
According to the disgruntled officers , the chief of staff’s action “stinks of McCarthyism” and reflects “pressure on the part of the head of the army who feels under siege and is focusing on minor details.”

Full Story

Rabbi Marc Gellman blames “The Jews” for Joe Lieberman’s loss

In Newsweek, Rabbi Marc Gellman pulls a Mel Gibson and blames the Jews for Joe Lieberman’s recent loss in the Connecticut Democratic primary. Some highlights:

Joe…He lost because Barbra Streisand’s highly publicized contribution to Lamont and because of the number of Jews who hated Bush and the war more than they loved Joe. [...] My disappointment is with my people. I simply do not understand why so many Jews bailed on Joe. I cannot understand why Joe’s percentage of the Jewish vote was not in the high 90s instead of the 54-57 percent range (according to Lieberman’s campaign). I have opinions on way too many things I don’t know nearly enough about, but I know about Jews. I am a professional Jew, and yet if you asked me to explain why Jews did not vote for Joe the way blacks voted for Barack Obama or Catholics voted for John F. Kennedy I would not know what to tell you. [...] (Lieberman’s loss) …ought to be a huge embarrassment to all card-carrying Jews whether they agreed with Joe or not.

Full story.

Sy Hersh: U.S. Helped Plan Israeli Attack, Cheney “Convinced” Assault on Lebanon Could Serve as Prelude to Preemptive Attack on Iran

Amy Goodman at Democracy Now writes:

Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reports in this week’s issue of the New Yorker that Israeli officials visited the White House earlier this summer to get a “green light” for an attack on Lebanon. The Bush administration approved, Hersh says, in part to remove Hezbollah as a deterrent to a potential US bombing of Iran.

Full story… including an interview with Seymour Hersh (transcript + optional MP3)

In related news Reuters newswire gives us this : ANALYSIS-US Mideast clout may be casualty of Lebanon war

JERUSALEM, Aug 14 (Reuters) – The Bush administration’s influence in the Middle East is in danger of becoming another casualty of the war in Lebanon, giving Iran a chance to build up its clout in the region. [...] The Arab world is seething at how President George W. Bush, after promoting free elections in Lebanon, made no effort to stop Israel from weakening the new government by destroying much of the country’s infrastructure in a bid to cripple Hizbollah.

But there is also unease among Israelis at a brewing debate in Washington about the Jewish state’s value as a strategic ally against Iran, given the failure of its vaunted, U.S.-equipped military to subdue a small, Iranian-backed guerrilla army after a month of fighting.

“Iran comes out of this stronger, with the reflected glory of Hizbollah’s performance,” said Judith Kipper, a Middle East expert at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.

And, finally, from the Department of “winning hearts and minds”:
IDF general: Troops lacking food can steal from Lebanese stores

Washington Post Reporter: Israel deliberately not destroying launchers

ynet reports:

Tom Ricks, military reporter for the Washington Post, accused Israel Tuesday of intentionally failing to destroy a number of rocket launchers in south Lebanon, to maintain a moral defense to its striking civilian of targets in Lebanon.

Ricks, who was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in journalism and recently published his new book “Fiasco” on the failure of the American war in Iraq, made the comments during an interview on CNN.

Ricks, who was hosted on the Howard Kurtz’s weekly media review show on the CNN news network, said: “Civilian casualties are also part of the battlefield play for both sides here. One of the things that is going on, according to some US military analysts, is that Israel purposely has left pockets of Hizbullah rockets in Lebanon, because as long as they’re being rocketed, they can continue to have a sort of moral equivalency in their operations in Lebanon.”
[...]
Ricks noted that in an off-the-record conversation with a number of military analysts, two of them said they believed it was a clever strategy on the part of Israel to leave a few rocket launchers intact to aid Israel in sharpening public sentiment and give Israeli forces more freedom to operate.

The analysts didn’t think it was a bad strategy, Ricks noted. Rather, they believed it would be a clever move on the part of Israel if it were true.

Full story

“Why doesn’t Israel work for peace?”

Silvia Tennenbaum, a writer in East Hampton, New York, is author of the novels “Yesterday’s Streets” and “Rachel, the Rabbi’s Wife.” In an article in New York Newsday, she addresses the conflict in Lebanon and Gaza from the point of view of a Holocaust Survivor:

As a Jew who escaped the Holocaust by moving with my family to America in 1938, I turn on the BBC at night. And what I see are clouds of black smoke, explosions; the dead and the dying – children crying bitterly, cities in ruins. Only yesterday, these piles of rubble in Lebanon were home to thousands. Now, the cars roll out onto the highways, white flags attached to the windshields and doors. More than half a million are homeless.

The Israelis told them to leave, but then strafed one convoy from a helicopter. The military people exert their force without pity. They win their wars proudly. They are the masters of force.

Full article: Why doesn’t Israel work for peace? : Holocaust victims would decry the slaughter of innocent children during attacks on Hezbollah

Israeli pilots ‘deliberately miss’ targets

RefuseThe UK Guardian reports:

At least two Israeli fighter pilots have deliberately missed civilian targets in Lebanon as disquiet grows in the military about flawed intelligence, The Observer has learnt. Sources say the pilots were worried that targets had been wrongly identified as Hizbollah facilities.
[...]
As international outrage over civilian deaths grows, the spotlight is increasingly turning on Israeli air operations. The Observer has learnt that one senior commander who has been involved in the air attacks in Lebanon has already raised concerns that some of the air force’s actions might be considered ‘war crimes’.

Yonatan Shapiro, a former Blackhawk helicopter pilot dismissed from reserve duty after signing a ‘refusenik’ letter in 2004, said he had spoken with Israeli F-16 pilots in recent days and learnt that some had aborted missions because of concerns about the reliability of intelligence information. According to Shapiro, some pilots justified aborting missions out of ‘common sense’ and in the context of the Israeli Defence Force’s moral code of conduct, which says every effort should be made to avoiding harming civilians.

Shapiro said: ‘Some pilots told me they have shot at the side of targets because they’re afraid people will be there, and they don’t trust any more those who give them the coordinates and targets.’

He added: ‘One pilot told me he was asked to hit a house on a hill, which was supposed to be a place from where Hizbollah was launching Katyusha missiles. But he was afraid civilians were in the house, so he shot next to the house …

‘Pilots are always being told they will be judged on results, but if the results are hundreds of dead civilians while Hizbollah is still able to fire all these rockets, then something is very wrong.’

So far none of the pilots has publicly refused to fly missions but some are wobbling, according to Shapiro. He said: ‘Their target could be a house firing a cannon at Israel and it could be a house full of children, so it’s a real dilemma; it’s not black and white. But … I’m calling on them to refuse, in order save our country from self-destruction.’

Full story

Could Olmert be leading Israel down the road of self-destruction?

SamsonI’m seriously beginning to worry that Israel is heading down the path to self-destruction based on a series of tactical errors and fundamental misunderstandings. The Hezbollah-Israel battle has entered it’s 25th day and not one single military target has been reached. The same army that took just six days to rout three big Arab armies in 1967 has not succeeded in overcoming a small “terrorist organization” in a time span that is already longer than the momentous Yom Kippur War.

Anyone who has an interest in the future of the region should think carefully about the direction this conflict is heading.

Here are some of the things I’ve been reading that lead me to this conclusion:

Zbigniew Brzezinski: “Neocon prescriptions [of use of force to try to change things unilaterally] of which Israel has its equivalents, are fatal for America and ultimately for Israel. They will totally turn the overwhelming majority of the Middle East’s population against the United States. The lessons of Iraq speak for themselves. Eventually, if neocon policies continue to be pursued, the United States will be expelled from the region and that will be the beginning of the end for Israel as well.”

Beginning of the End for Israel?

AS HEZBOLLAH’S missiles continue to rain across the Galilee, the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, faces growing concerns that Israel may be on the verge of losing the war.

Concern mounts that this is a war Israel is not going to win

The very clear winner, for the moment at least, was Hezbollah and its leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah. [...] As the only Arab leader seen to have defeated the Israelis — on the basis of their withdrawal in 2000 from an 18-year occupation — he already enjoyed wide respect. Now, with Hezbollah standing firm and inflicting casualties, he has become a folk hero across the Muslim world, apparently uniting Sunnis and Shiites. [...] Yoel Marcus, a columnist for Haaretz who had earlier acidly asked if this was the same army that had defeated all of the Arab forces in just six days, ended the week writing: “It is unthinkable to walk away from the battlefield with the depressing sense that out of all the wars Israel has ever fought, only Hezbollah, a mere band of terrorists, was able to bombard the Israeli home front with thousands of missiles and get off scot free. [...] “I think this is a loser,” said Augustus Richard Norton, an expert on the Shia of Lebanon who teaches at Boston University. “Time is working against us, not with us. The options stink.”

Israel Is Powerful, Yes. But Not So Invincible.

ISRAEL is losing this war. For a lifelong Israel supporter, that’s a painful thing to write. But it’s true. And the situation’s worsening each day.
[...]
The situation is grim. Israel looks more desperate every day, while Hezbollah appears more defiant.

Can Israel Win? Not the way it’s fighting

JORDAN’S King Abdullah said Israel’s offensive against Hezbollah had turned its fighters into heroes among ordinary Arabs. [...] The staunchly pro-US ally said Israel’s three week bombing campaign against Hezbollah guerrillas had given a boost to radicals fighting to end occupation of Arab land.

“The war will not solve anything and Arab peoples see now in Hezbollah a hero facing aggression and defending their land,” the monarch told al-Ghad and al-Rai newspapers in an interview released by the state news agency Petra.

Hezbollah ‘heroes to Arabs’

Russia’s Sovetskaya Rossiya says that “a strategic change” in the region’s power balance is emerging. “The myth of Israel’s invincibility is evaporating before our eyes,” it states. “This has created a fundamentally new situation in the Middle East”.

European press review

Judges in Egypt called upon the government to dissolve its peace agreement with Israel, on the grounds that it is inconceivable for Egypt to coexist peaceably with Israel while the IDF operates in Lebanon. The judges expressed support of popular resistance against Israeli
advances, which, in their eyes, is the only way to protect the Arab ummah (greater nation).

Judges in Egypt: Scrap peace deal with Israel

Also on Monday, former Egyptian deputy prime minister Mansour Hassan urged Mubarak to revoke the peace treaty with Israel, signed for Egypt by former president Anwar Sadat who was assassinated by Muslim extremists opposed to the treaty.

“Israel has proved that it is not interested in peace … it is a duty to declare the peace treaty as null and void,” wrote Hassan, who was a key aide to Sadat and closely involved in the Camp David peace accord between Egypt and Israel.

Assad calls on Syrian army to prepare for ‘regional challenges’

The anger in Egypt ranges across the spectrum from the Muslim Brotherhood – which has offered to “send immediately 10,000 mujahideen to fight the Zionists alongside Hizbullah” – to business associations. Chambers of commerce and trade unions have organised gala dinners to raise money for war victims and the two mobile operators, MobiNil and Vodafone, have set up a premium-rate hotline whose profits are sent to Lebanon.
[...]
Whatever qualms Arabs once had about Hizbullah they have since been dissipated by Israel’s attacks, the hundreds of deaths, the sight of up to a quarter of the Lebanese population fleeing their homes, and especially the bombing of UN observers and the massacre at Qana.

The Shia organisation and its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, have become symbols of resistance even in such unlikely places as the Gulf countries where Sunnis and Shias have been spotted waving the yellow-and-green flag. Christians are joining in as well. In Damascus yesterday, a Catholic church held a special mass. “Pray for the resistance, pray for Hassan Nasrallah. He is defending justice,” Father Elias Zahlawi urged his congregation.

Unlike al-Qaida, admiration for Hizbullah stretches beyond disaffected militants to take in teachers, writers, broadcasters, and doctors many of whom, under other circumstances, would be pressing for democracy and reform.
[...]
Khaled Almaeena, editor-in-chief of Arab News, a liberal daily based in Jeddah, has been expressing his anger in a series of columns since hostilities broke out. “There is a surging tide of bitterness and alienation,” he said. “It is not simply because of Lebanon, but Lebanon may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Militants merge with mainstream

It takes neither a Bush-basher, nor even a cynic, to wonder if Hezbollah/Syria/Iran has orchestrated a brilliant winning strategy against Israel as well as the USA.

Israel moving into its own quagmire

In order to embark on a new course, the only one that will solve the problem: negotiations and peace with the Palestinians, the Lebanese, the Syrians. And: with Hamas and Hizbullah.

Because it’s only with enemies that one makes peace.

Jewish US Navy officer held in secret for 4 months, charged with espionage

The Virginian-Pilot, a newspaper from Hampton Roads, Virginia reports:

NORFOLK — A petty officer has been in the Norfolk Naval Station brig for more than four months facing espionage, desertion and other charges, but the Navy has refused to release details of the case.

The case against Fire Control Technician 3rd Class Ariel J. Weinmann is indicative of the secrecy surrounding the Navy military court here, where public affairs and trial court officials have denied access to basic information including the court docket – a listing of cases to be heard.

After months of requests, the Navy this week provided The Virginian-Pilot with Weinmann’s name, rank and the charges he faces.
[...]
Weinmann had been serving aboard the submarine Albuquerque until he deserted in July 2005, according to Brown. Weinmann enlisted in July 2003, he said.
[...]
Espionage is defined, in part, by the Uniform Code of Military Justice as the communication to a foreign government of any information relating to U.S. national defense. It carries a maximum punishment of death.

Full story

Jewish Moroccan trio: Try local born Peretz for war crimes

Amir PeretzHa’aretz reports:

Three Jewish Moroccans have submitted Rabat’s high court with a petition against Defense Minister Amir Peretz, accusing the Moroccan-born Israeli of war crimes.

Leftist activist Abraham Tsarfati, author Amran al-Malich and human rights group official Zion Asidon claim Peretz may be tried in the country due to his Moroccan citizenship.

“The criminal terrorist, Zionist Amir Peretz, has retained his Moroccan citizenship and is still registered in Morocco’s census,” the three told reporters during a press conference. “Moroccan law allows the trial of any Moroccan national who has committed war crimes in or out of the country.”

Full story

How to win friends and influence people

Yediot Aharanot reports:

Yesha Rabbinical Council: During time of war, enemy has no innocents

The Yesha Rabbinical Council announced in response to an IDF attack in Kfar Qanna [you know, the one where 19 children died huddled in a bomb shelter] that “according to Jewish law, during a time of battle and war, there is no such term as ‘innocents’ of the enemy.”

All of the discussions on Christian morality are weakening the spirit of the army and the nation and are costing us in the blood of our soldiers and civilians,” the statement said.

Full story

War News Round-up

Found buried at the end of an article in the Jerusalem Post: “Defense officials told the Post last week that they were receiving indications from the United States that the US would be interested in seeing Israel attack Syria.”

CNN reports: Eyewitness: Mass burial in Lebanon

Uri Avnery writes: “In the Gunsight: Syria! or: A Nice Little War” – IT IS the old story about the losing gambler: he cannot stop. He continues to play, in order to win his losses back. He continues to lose and continues to gamble, until he has lost everything: his ranch, his wife, his shirt.

Avnery also advises: “THE REAL aim is to change the regime in Lebanon and to install a puppet government.”

The New York Times, in an essay entitled “Israel Is Powerful, Yes. But Not So Invincible” calculates: “The very clear winner, for the moment at least, was Hezbollah and its leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah.”

Gideon Levy writes in Ha’aretz “Days of Darkness” – one of the best essays I’ve read about the current Lebanon/Israel conflict

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Hevenu Shalom Aleichem

Two days ago, United Nations human rights official Jan Egeland criticised Israel for breaching human rights laws in its bombardment of Lebanon. Prior to that, Egeland had described Israel’s month-long military offensive in Gaza as a “disproportionate use of force”, and reported that “Nearly one third of all casualties in the Lebanon-Israel conflict have been children” and that “it appeared neither Hezbollah nor the Israelis seemed to care about civilian suffering”

Now, four United Nations peacekeepers have been killed in an Israeli air strike on a United Nations observation post in south Lebanon. The dead included observers from Austria, Canada, China and Finland. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said he was “shocked” at the “apparently deliberate targeting” of the post. Dan Ayalon, Israel’s Ambassador to Washington, demanded that Annan apologize for the remarks, which he called “baseless.”

Coverage:
Israeli bomb kills UN observers – BBC
Israel bomb kills 4 UN observers in Lebanon – Reuters
Annan: UN base was ‘apparently deliberately targeted’ – Ha’aretz
Four UN observers killed when Israeli bomb hits their post – Israel Insider

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War and Peace round-up

Atlanta Rabbi: Torture is allowed under Halacha

Michael J. Broyde is a law professor at Emory University and rabbi of the Young Israel synagogue in Atlanta. In the July 7th issue of The Jewish Week, Professor Broyde has written an essay on torture and its permissibility under Halacha (Jewish religious law). In his essay he discusses such techniques as “…take five prisoners up in a helicopter and ask one of them a question. If he refused to answer, he was summarily pushed out of the helicopter and the next prisoner was questioned. This method, however brutal it seems to us civilians, produced the needed results.”

Professor Broyde writes:

In a recent monograph published by the Center for Jewish Studies at Queens College as well as a forthcoming chapter in an Orthodox Forum volume, I have shown that torture is permissible and consistent with halacha in all situations where there is a proper, thoughtful military chain of command (the higher up a decision goes, the more thought tends to be put in) and no other reasonable alternative is available.

So what do our resident halacha scholars have to say about this?

We must talk to gunmen, says father of Israeli soldier

Israel's History of Prisoner ExchangesThe Times (UK) reports:

The father of the young soldier held captive by Palestinian gunmen increased the pressure on Israel’s government yesterday by urging them to negotiate his son’s release. “In the end it will be necessary to pay a price for Gilad’s freedom,” said Noam Shalit, whose 19-year-old son was seized from Israeli territory two weeks ago. “I don’t understand why the government is delaying negotiations on this price.”

Full story here.

Bonus links:
Ha’aretz Editorial: The government is losing its reason
British Jews in UK Times: What is Israel doing? [PDF]