Newsletter 7 May 2008
We haven’t had a recommended reading mailing for a while. As Israel’s 60th anniversary approaches, here is a catch-up.
a) The United Nations, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has issued a GAZA HUMANITARIAN SITUATION REPORT Impact of Fuel Shortages on Gaza Sanitation – Polluting the Sea 29 April 2008
b) This report and others are discussed by Donald Macintyre under the heading Blockade puts Gaza on brink of serious food crisis
c) A more personal account is given by the same reporter in the Independent under the title ‘We didn’t eat at all in the day,’
a) First-hand report on current conditions in the “Holy Land” by Ed Abington former U.S. Consul-General in Jerusalem, April 2008
b) Healing Israel’s Birth Scar, Tony Karom
c) Peace talk: Despite the despondent atmosphere, this is a propitious moment to bring the Israel-Palestine conflict to an end by Tony Klug
d) Palestinian Prisoners Day 2008: Challenging Military Courts by Isabelle Guitard
e) New kid on the block by Richard Silverstein, Comment is Free
f) Press statement on the current situation by John Dugard, the retiring UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 – 17 April 2008
3. Two articles on the politics of archeology in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
a) Digging for Trouble: The politics of archaeology in East Jerusalem by Yigal Bronner & Neve Gordon
b) A separate peace by Meron Rapoport
4. Two articles on Israel’s 60th Anniversary by Uri Avnery
a) Manifest Destiny? 12 April 2008
b) “… Namely the State of Israel” 3 May 2008
5. Jewish Chronicle
a) JfJfP organised pesach advert in the Jewish Chronicle, 18 April 2008
b) the JC’s response: leader
c) the JC’s response: article postscript
d) JC readers respond in the following week
e) Advert signatories respond the week after
f) Developments at the Jewish Chronicle (last Friday’s issue)
1. Gaza, the humanitarian crisis deepens
1a) The United Nations, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has issued a GAZA HUMANITARIAN SITUATION REPORT Impact of Fuel Shortages on Gaza Sanitation – Polluting the Sea 29 April 2008
Its key observations are that “[B]etween 50 and 60 million litres of partially treated and untreated sewage from the Gaza Strip have been flowing daily into the Mediterranean Sea since 24 January” and that “This sewage cannot be treated due to the lack of a steady electricity supply within the Gaza Strip, Israel’s restrictions on fuel imports, and prohibitions on the import of materials and necessary spare parts.”
Full report downloadable at http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/Gaza_Situation_Report_2008_April.pdf
1b) This report and others are discussed by Donald Macintyre under the heading Blockade puts Gaza on brink of serious food crisis, says UN at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/blockade-puts-gaza-on-brink-of-serious-food-crisis-says-un-819731.html
1c) A more personal account is given by the same reporter in the Independent under the title ‘We didn’t eat at all in the day,’ says father plunged into poverty
“On Wednesday this week, Mr Yusef explains, his family didn’t eat during daylight at all. “We had our breakfast in the evening. My wife said: ‘All day you haven’t been able to find something.’ A visiting friend overheard and lent Mr Yusef 10 shekels to buy some luncheon meat, which provided their one meal of the day. The last time his family ate meat was on 5 April when his son, a member of the old Fatah-dominated security forces, was paid his £220 monthly salary from Ramallah.”
Full report at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/we-didnt-eat-at-all-in-the-day-says-father-plunged-into-poverty-819730.html
2a) First-hand report on current conditions in the “Holy Land” by Ed Abington former U.S. Consul-General in Jerusalem, April 2008
“There is a sense of despair among almost all Palestinians I talked to. They see no willingness on the part of the Israelis to engage in meaningful final status talks. In fact, they say, the talks are frozen, yet settlement expansion is going on at a steady and growing rate. Tenders for new housing units are being approved almost every day, not only in East Jerusalem but elsewhere in the West Bank. No Palestinian building for any purpose is allowed in area c, even if Palestinians have owned the land for generations. The IDF destroys any building done by Palestinians in area c. The West Bank is now truly fragmented by checkpoints, Israeli-only roads, closed military areas and permanent “border-crossing”-like terminals around all the major Palestinian cities. Someone shipping goods to or from Nablus, for example, must off-load/on-load their trucks at least twice on any trip.”
Full report at http://www.jfjfp.org/background3_gaza-crisis_2007-08/abingdon.htm
2b) Healing Israel’s Birth Scar, Tony Karom, April 9th, 2008
“There are growing numbers of Israelis who want to confront the reality of the fact that much of the “Jewish State” is built on the ruins of homes, lands and villages seized at gunpoint from others, before laws were passed legalizing what was, in a moral sense, essentially theft justified by war, and then simply flattening and building over them.”
Full article at http://tonykaron.com/2008/04/09/healing-israels-birth-scar/
2c) Peace talk: Despite the despondent atmosphere, this is a propitious moment to bring the Israel-Palestine conflict to an end by Tony Klug, 01 April 2008
“… it is strongly in the interests of the principal parties to encourage the evolution of Hamas from a paramilitary organization to a serious political player by allowing the internal political processes within Palestinian society some breathing space to develop. Whether in or out of government, the movement will remain a significant force among the Palestinian people. However, if forced from power, it may abandon the political path altogether and revert to its more belligerent demands and violent deportment. Or it may give way to ‘jihadist’ forces, including al-Qaida whose advances it has so far rejected. So what may be done to avoid this and advance an authentic peace process?”
Full article in at http://www.progressonline.org.uk/magazine/article.asp?a=2613
2d) Palestinian Prisoners Day 2008: Challenging Military Courts by Isabelle Guitard
On 17 April 2008, DCI/PS announced a groundbreaking decision to challenge the Israeli Military Court system, and published a report revealing that over 6,000 Palestinian children have been arrested by Israel since the beginning of the Intifada. Guitard is International Advocacy Officer, Defence for Children International-Palestine Section
Press release and full report: http://www.dci-pal.org/english/display.cfm?DocId=726&CategoryId=1
2e) New kid on the block by Richard Silverstein, Comment is Free
The American-Jewish lobbying group J Street, co-founded by Daniel Levy and Jeremy Ben Ami. hopes to provide a fresh approach to Israeli-Palestinian peace – but it may face opposition from Aipac
“J Street proposes an overarching US approach to the Middle East that eschews military conflict and embraces diplomatic negotiation, and advocates multilateralism over unilateralism and dialogue over confrontation. It proposes negotiation with Syria and Iran rather than diplomatic isolation and threats. And it will advance these goals both in the legislative and electoral process as well as the media.
Daniel Levy is a British Jew and son of a senior Labour minister in the Blair government, Lord Levy…”
Article at http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/richard_silverstein/2008/04/new_kid_on_the_block.html
2f) Press statement on the current situation by John Dugard, the retiring UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 – 17 April 2008
GENEVA- -The blood-letting in Gaza, and to a lesser extent, the West Bank continues. On Wednesday 16 April, around 20 Palestinians were killed in Israeli military operations. The majority of those killed were civilians and five were children. On the same day three Israeli soldiers were killed.
How long is this madness to continue without serious international intervention? It has become clear to many responsible persons with experience of the conflict, both in Israel and elsewhere, that only direct negotiations or talks between the real parties involved – Israel and Hamas – can stop the killings.
Israel’s unwillingness to talk to Hamas is understandable, given Hamas’ hostility to the State of Israel. But there is no reason why the United Nations, acting through the Security Council or the Secretary-General, should not intervene and assert its role as mediator. This is a role that the United Nations has traditionally played, even where one of the parties has been labelled as “terrorist”. It is the responsibility of the United Nations, as the ultimate guardian of human rights and international peace, to open lines of communication between Israel, Hamas, and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, and to bring them to the negotiating table. Such a step would also contribute to the advancement of Palestinian national unity – another area which the United Nations has to date failed to address.
The right to life is the most precious and important human right. The United Nations, acting through the Security Council or the Secretary-General, must do its utmost to protect the lives of both Palestinians and Israelis. Surely it is not too much to ask of the Security Council, and if it cannot act, the Secretary-General, to protect human life, even if it means talking to a group of which it may disapprove politically.
3. Two articles on the politics of archeology in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Rebecca Vilkomerson, Guest Editor for Jewish Peace News writes: “Who controls the past, controls the future: who controls the present, controls the past.” –George Orwell, 1984.
The struggle for Silwan, an extremely poor Palestinian village in East Jerusalem, is a small microcosm of all the ways the occupation is perpetrated: the tag team of settlers and the state, the passive acquiescence of academics, the use of language to obscure reality, and the long term strategy being used to enlarge Jewish territory, backed by foreign money. It is also an inspiring example of a coalition of Palestinian and Israel activists and scholars who are working to save the village – against very high odds.
The article by two Israeli scholars in the April 25th edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education describes the struggle being waged in Silwan. A shadowy settler organization called Elad (largely funded, it is conjectured – because they refuse to reveal the names of their major donors – by Russian and American millionaires), uses its financial muscle to obtain land in Silwan, through methods both legitimate and less so, and install Jewish settlers throughout the Palestinian village.
The way Elad and the government use one another to further the goals of the occupation are illustrative. Elad was hired by the Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority and Jerusalem Municipality as a subcontractor administering the “City of David” archaeological park in Silwan. That work was then outsourced back by Elad to the Israel Antiquities Authority, which as part of its work has authorized the demolition of 88 Palestinian homes in service of archaeological “explorations.” In this way Elad, an extremist settler organization, gains official legitimacy as well as additional legal muscle, while the state reaps its rewards in archaelogical “evidence” and new settlers. The many tourists to the area, now marketed as the “City of David” get a one-sided, nationalistic view of the archaeological evidence.
These archaeological explorations are ethically dubious even beyond their use of home demolitions and intimidation, because they focus on “proving” the Jewish provenance of the area, to the exclusion of Muslim history. The “City of David” ignores the 3,000 years of history since David’s time and doesn’t include a single Muslim structure.
A few renegade Israeli archaelogists are actively fighting back-in their opinion simply defending the integrity of their profession. The article reports that a list of prominent international academics is joining the movement to protect Silwan from this slow-moving catastrophe for the residents, but the Israeli scholars who have joined are embarrassingly few. Over the past two years, the Palestinian residents themselves, joined by Jewish activists, have slowly built a coalition actively fighting the situation through grassroots protest and the courts.
Check out www.alt-arch.org to learn more, especially if you’re planning a visit to Israel or Palestine and are interested in “alternative” tours.
3a) Digging for Trouble: The politics of archaeology in East Jerusalem by Yigal Bronner & Neve Gordon, Counterpunch 11 April and Chronicle of Higher Education 25 April 2008 at http://chronicle.com/free/v54/i33/33b00101.htm and http://www.counterpunch.org/bronner04112008.html
3b) The second article, by Meron Rappaport in Ha’aretz, is even more interesting in the context of the story of Silwan. It looks at efforts to coordinate the archaeological heritage of Israel and Palestine in case of a future final agreement. Professor Nazmi Jubeh, a member of the Palestinian archeological negotiating team, encapsulates the potential of archaeology to integrate the rich histories of the peoples of the region in support of peace, despite the current barriers. While the article calls it “surprising” that he would advocate for such a position, it seems he is simply reflecting the ethics of archaeology untainted by politics: “…he thinks the very fact that doubts are raised about his readiness to preserve Jewish finds pulls the ground from under him as an archaeologist. By raising these questions, you present Israel as having singular ownership of the Muslim history in Israel,” Jubeh says. “The history of this land is the sum of all the histories of the people who lived in it. The Roman period does not belong to the Romans. You will not want the synagogue at Na’aran to be dismantled, just as I will not want to dismantle the Jazar Mosque in Acre. You cannot deprive me of the Jewish past of this land. It belongs to everyone.
A separate peace by Meron Rapoport, 14 April 2008 at http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/973870.html
4. Two articles on Israel’s 60th Anniversary by Uri Avnery
4a) Manifest Destiny? 12 April 2008
“There is no escape from the inevitable conclusion: the government is not working for peace. It does not want peace. And, also, that there is no effective parliamentary opposition pressing for peace, nor any pressure from the media.
What does all this mean? That there is no agenda? No, it means that behind the fictitious agenda, which appears in the media, there hides another agenda that does not meet the eye.
THE HIDDEN agenda is opposed to peace. Why?”
Full article at http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1208037443
4b) “… Namely the State of Israel” 3 May 2008
“WITH THE 60th Independence Day approaching, a committee sat down to choose an emblem for the event. The one they came up with looks like something for Coca Cola or the Eurovision song contest.
The real emblem of the state is quite different, and no committee of bureaucrats has had to invent it. It is fixed to the ground and can be seen from afar: The Wall. The Separation Wall.”
Full article at http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1209841842
5. The Jewish Chronicle
5a) JfJfP’s Pesach advert in the Jewish Chronicle, 18 April 2008
As you are probably aware our ad appeared in the Pesach edition of the JC with over 400 signatories. A photo of the ad can be viewed at http://www.jfjfp.org/images/JC_ad_080418.jpg – please ask if you’d like the pdf.
5b) the JC’s response: leader
An editorial attacking it appeared in the same issue and a couple of paragraphs were tacked on to a report about the Ham & High taking a paid ad from the BNP where the JC editor explained why he was willing to take our money for an offensive ad! These are given below. There were also a large number of letters published on it the next week and the week after. They can be found in full at http://www.jfjfp.org/archive/pesach-ad_jc2008.htm
Editorial Pesach politics 18/04/2008
If everything is political, then how much more so a festival whose main theme is one of liberation. Pesach has much contemporary relevance, especially when we consider Tibet’s struggle for autonomy, the political turbulence in Zimbabwe and, yes, the search for a peaceful and equitable solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But this does not mean that the festival should become a cynical lever for interested parties to exploit. This week, consistent with our policy not to censor lawful ads from Jewish organisations, the JC is running a full-page plea from Jews for Justice for Palestinians which rather crassly appears to equate “the bitterness of slavery” with the situation in Gaza. This, they imply, is “the enduring message of Pesach”. In Israel itself, the strictly Orthodox parties have chosen to make political capital over whether goods containing chametz can be sold openly during Pesach or not. Having been thwarted in their intention of banning such goods during the festival, Shas is threatening a terrible revenge for next year. And in Jerusalem, as they have done for the last two decades, residents will be drawing their water from sources other than the Kinneret just in case some inconsiderate fishermen had thrown their sandwiches into the lake, thus making it treif. All of the above goes a long way to distorting both the spirit and the unique meaning of this festival. The JC wishes all its readers a happy and reflective Pesach.
5c) the JC’s response: article postscript
Papers faces backlash over BNP election ads 17/04/2008 by Dana Gloger
Final two paras:
Jews for Justice for Palestinians has taken a full-page advert, with many celebrity endorsements, in this week’s JC to ask whether Jews can enjoy their Seder while Palestinians are suffering “slavery”.
JC editor David Rowan said: “Although I understand that many readers will object to the sentiments in this advert, it has not been this newspaper’s policy to censor lawful advertisements from Jewish organisations – even where they conflict with the newspaper’s editorial position.”
5d) JC readers respond in the following week
Half a dozen letters appeared attacking the ad the following week but there was a fine one from Keith Kahn-Harris:
At the end of your story on the Ham & High accepting adverts from the BNP, there were two paragraphs on the JC advert from JfJfP. The unmistakable inference was that JfJfP and the BNP are similar pariahs in the Jewish community, different only in that the JC (apparently with heavy heart) prints adverts from the former. I was not a signatory to the JfJfP advert, but I do not accept that its call for justice towards the Palestinians at Pesach necessarily equates to support for the racist far right. It is precisely these kind of semi-hysterical insults that disfigure our Jewish community.
Dr Keith Kahn-Harris, email@example.com
5e) Advert signatories respond the week after
The next week the letters on the topic were entirely devoted to ones defending the advert (apart form one from Roslyn Pines). Letter were published from John Strawson, Deborah Maccoby, Dan Judelson, Murray Glickman and Diana Neslen
Signatories of the gaza-blockade ad reply to their JC critics 02/05/2008
As a signatory of the Jews for Justice for Palestinians advertisement on Gaza, I must correct Eylon Levy’s assertion that “Israel has no legal obligation for provide Gaza with anything…as it unilaterally withdraw in 2005″ (Letters, April 25). As a matter of fact Israel neither withdrew in 2005, nor indeed suggested that withdrawal was its intention.
Under the disengagement plan issued by the Cabinet on June 6, 2004, the future status of Gaza is dealt with in section B (3) entitled “security situation following the relocation”. Paragraph (1) reads: “The state of Israel will guard and monitor the external land perimeter of the Gaza Strip, will continue to maintain exclusive authority in Gaza airspace and will continue to exercise security activity in the sea off the coast of the Gaza strip.”
Thus the military control of Gaza that began in June 1967 continued after what Israel called variously “disengagement” or “relocation” from Gaza. As a consequence the occupation of Gaza continues and Israel remains obliged by the relevant provisions of the Hague and Geneva Conventions for the welfare of the civilian population under occupation.
It is in Israel’s hands to end this situation immediately by unconditionally withdrawing from all the territory it occupied in 1967.
John Strawson, University of East London, Stratford High Street, London E15
There was by no means any “admission” in the JC advertisement that “the violence in Gaza, Sderot or Ashkelon was initiated by Hamas and that the Israeli response was self-defence”, as is claimed by Byran Reuben (Letters, April 25). To quote the actual words of the ad: “We condemn all violence against civilians, whether Israeli or Palestinian. We also insist that the rocket attacks on Sderot and Ashkelon cannot justify the scale of death and suffering wrought by Israel’s action against Gaza. The blockade of Gaza will simply perpetuate the vicious cycle of terror rooted in the long Israeli occupation and settlement of Palestinian land.”
This makes clear the root cause of the cycle of terror, in which Israel’s retaliation for Palestinian revenge attacks is grossly disproportionate and only produces more violence against Israeli civilians.
Deborah Maccoby, Clapton, London E5
I do worry when “free speech” has to be bought at the price of several thousand pounds before it can appear. It would be even better if the content was what was debated rather than the permissibility of making it in the first place. The JC has carried adverts from JfJfP and other peace groups before and has not felt the need for an exceptional editorial as on this occasion. The same issue was accompanied by an interesting and varied collection of articles in the magazine celebrating 60 years of Israel’s independence. Where was the editorial comment on the acceptance of adverts there – including one censured recently by the Advertising Standards Authority for suggesting that the Occupied West Bank constituted part of Israel? Where is the editorial comment on the acceptance of adverts in the magazine (and in a recent property supplement) on the acceptance of adverts promoting homes for sale in the Occupied Territories?
Dan Judelson, Chair, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, firstname.lastname@example.org
The recent JfJfP advertisement with its traditional Pesach message drawing attention to hunger, suffering and affliction has evoked some “traditional” responses from contributors to your letters pages.
First there was the casuistical son. What did he say? “What occupation? Gaza’s no longer occupied. Everyone knows that.”
Then there was the rape-apologist son. What did he say? “Look at the way these Arabs carry on. They just ask for it. So we give it to them.”
Then there was the simply paranoid-racist son. What did he say? “The Arabs, they’re just out to get us. That’s what they’re brought up to.”
And what of those other thousands of sons and daughters, readers of the JC? Their personal sense of decency is in such conflict with their identification with Israel that they are silent. They know not how to ask its government: “Why are you doing this to the people of Gaza?” That is why we have to ask for them.
Murray Glickman, Ilford, Essex
These words at the opening of the Haggadah: “This is the bread of affliction, let all who are hungry enter and partake thereof”, have a particular resonance for me as, perhaps, for many Jews.
This year, as I read them, I felt the horror of Israel’s blockade of Gaza. Together with the fuel blockade which is making the delivery of food by UNRWA all but impossible, the siege is inducing real starvation. This strategy was developed by Ariel Sharon’s henchman, Dov Weissglas, who laughingly said Israel would put “the people of Gaza on a diet”. This demonstrates that Israel, who controls all access to Gaza since its “withdrawal” in 2005, is responsible directly for the damage it is inflicting on a subject population.
It is therefore reasonable to enquire how far our own Jewish community goes in its efforts to react to our sages’ plea to dispel hunger, especially at Passover. If the responses of the letter writers and the extraordinary JC editorial, castigating those, like me, who signed the JfJfP advertisement, are anything to go by, it would seem that many in mainstream British Jewry have little awareness of our proud heritage of social justice.
I read with anguish the insensitive letters trying to defend this wholly indefensible siege and would say that if we Jews are so immune to the suffering cries of those over whom we hold dominion, we are indeed, as a community, in desperate straits.
Diana Neslen, D.Neslen@dsl.pipex.com
When fringe groups like JfJfP place full-page ads in our national newspapers, such as the one that appeared in the JC before Peasach, the response must take the same format, so that the lies, distortions and absence of context are exposed to the same readers. There is no better use of funds for Israel’s hasbarah, for silence is invariably interpreted as a tacit admission of guilt.
Roslyn Pine, Upper Park Road, Manchester
5f) Developments at the Jewish Chronicle
A comment from Richard Kuper:
Can I add that something quite interesting seems to be taking place at the JC. Don’t get obsessed with the letters page. Just take a look at the JC ‘Israel at 60′ supplement edited by Daniella Peled. Of course a paean of praise to Israel, but not uncritical for all that, carrying articles by e.g.
* Uri Avnery on how he met Arafat during the first Lebanon war in 1982;
* David Landau outgoing editor of Haaretz on ‘1967’, ending with the words: “I remember vividly the intoxicating sweetness of that (pseudo-) messianic moment. Now it tastes like ashes.”
* ‘Israel’s other citizens’ by Ghaida Zoabi in which she says: “Israel’s 60th anniversary does not mean anything to me.”
* An interview with rock star Aviv Geffen for whom hope in Israel died with the assassination of Rabin: “Geffen’s antipathy towards the Israeli administration is focused on the country’s macho culture, the compulsory three-year stint in the army… and the occupation.”
Or look at the current issue. Not just the letters page, but also:
– a sympathetic interview with Zacharia Zubeida from the Jenin refugee camp http://www.thejc.com/home.aspx?ParentId=m11s19&SecId=19&AId=59777&ATypeId=1
– a full-page story on how a Muslim family saved their Jewish neighbours in Nazi-occupied Sarajevo http://www.thejc.com/home.aspx?ParentId=m14s44&SecId=44&AId=59870&ATypeId=1
– a full-page story of how barrister Philippe Sands is ‘trying to put Rumsfield in the dock’ http://www.thejc.com/home.aspx?ParentId=m14s44&SecId=44&AId=59871&ATypeId=1
– a sympathetic interview with Ofira Henig http://www.thejc.com/home.aspx?ParentId=m14s150&SecId=150&AId=59895&ATypeId=1 who is directing the Palestinian play ‘In Spitting Distance’ at the Barbican
– Filmmaker Raneen Geries receives death threats for showing the Palestinian view of the events of 1948.
– Rabbi Elizbeth Sarah Tikvah’s extensive piece ‘Torah says you can be for Israel… and for Palestine’. http://www.thejc.com/home.aspx?ParentId=m13&SecId=13&AId=59788&ATypeId=1
Of course nine-tenths of it is rather more predictable, but even so!
Opinion within Britain’s Jewish community has shifted massively in recent years and the JC seems to be making an effort to catch up. Or perhaps the editor is on holiday and the mice are playing! I’d like to think the former.
See the last two sentences of their leader,Tragedy and regret, on 02/05/2008:
“But what is in no doubt is that this event was a tragedy. And if spectators to this conflict have reached the point where the death of four children and their mother in one single, brutal moment no longer moves them, then that is another.”
This echoes Diana [Neslen]’s final para:
“I read with anguish the insensitive letters trying to defend this wholly indefensible siege and would say that if we Jews are so immune to the suffering cries of those over whom we hold dominion, we are indeed, as a community, in desperate straits.”
[Here is the full editorial:]
“On Monday morning, as they sat down to breakfast in their Gaza home, Miyasar Abu Meatak and her four children – Salah, four, Musad, 18 months, Hanaa, three, and Rudeynah, six – died in a massive explosion. The dust had barely settled on this nightmarish scene before claims and counter-claims began flying over just who was responsible. The IDF at first insisted that the family was killed when explosives carried by wanted men detonated after they were struck by an Israeli missile. The Palestinians claimed that Israeli troops had fired a tank shell which hit the family’s building. In the midst of urban, asymmetrical warfare, the precise sequence of events is not always immediately clear. So what should Israel do at a time like this – admit responsibility, deny involvement, express “regret”? An initial Israeli promise to show journalists footage to back up its version of events was quickly retracted after the IDF admitted this evidence was inconclusive. It seems almost distasteful to mention hasbarah in this context. Yet it took 24 hours for a measured, human response to emerge from the Israeli side and for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, to say, quite simply, that Israel felt deep remorse for the tragic incident, that the exact circumstances were still unclear, and that the IDF would carry out an investigation and publicise its findings. From the Israeli perspective, this incident only lasted for one domestic news cycle, and privately is not being seen as an international debacle. The truth of the events of Monday morning has yet to emerge. But what is in no doubt is that this event was a tragedy. And if spectators to this conflict have reached the point where the death of four children and their mother in one single, brutal moment no longer moves them, then that is another.”