Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Greece, the EU, Purim and the Jewish nation


This is not the season to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim. That celebration is almost nine months away (late March, 2016).
Nevertheless, we are looking at a modern Purim story. That story is called, the Greek default crisis.
When you read the ancient Purim story, you might notice something strange. Even though this story (as the Book of Esther) is included in the Tanach, the Jewish ‘Scriptures’, the name of G-d is completely absent. It never appears.
Since this story is about G-d’s miraculously saving the Jewish people, why is His Name missing from the story? Why leave His name out?
The answer, of course, is that this story isn’t about open miracles. Instead, it’s a more modern story, where the Hand of G-d isn’t visible.
In our modern world, we don’t see open miracles. The ground doesn’t move for our benefit. The oceans do not part for our safety. The sun doesn’t stand still for our aid.
In the modern world, the Hand of G-d hides. Instead of doing things openly for us, He puts people into exactly the right place at precisely the right moment so that they will, for their own personal, individual reasons, behave in a way that creates the historic unfolding that G-d wants.
G-d works, in other words, through Man—his beliefs, his anger, his hate/love, etc. The Heavenly miracles come out of the supposed ‘coincidences’ Man’s behaviour creates.
Consider modern Greece. Greece stands at a precipice. It’s broke. It has a ravenous appetite for money. It can’t support its life-style. It lives off of borrowed cash.
Those who have lent it money have had enough. Today (literally) Greece has defaulted on a 1.5 euro debt (which has been reported as a 1.6 billion euro debt). Yesterday, a representative of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)—the creditor for this specific debt—made a short announcement:
“I confirm that the SDR 1.2 billion repayment (about EUR 1.5 billion) due by Greece to the IMF today has not been received. We have informed our Executive Board that Greece is now in arrears and can only receive IMF financing once the arrears are cleared.
“I can also confirm that the IMF received a request today from the Greek authorities for an extension of Greece’s repayment obligation that fell due today, which will go to the IMF’s Executive Board in due course” (“Statement by the IMF on Greece”, Press Release #15/310, The International Monetary Fund, June 30, 2015).
Just as we saw in the Purim story, this story unfolds because of the decisions of the players involved. For example, the Greek Prime Minister refused to accept a bailout deal offered by the European Union (EU). Instead, he offered a counterproposal: give us more time; give us an extension; give us a two-year rescue plan (“Greece debt crisis: Eurozone rejects bailout appeal”, BBC News, June 30, 2015).
Based on its own motivations, the EU rejected the Greek counterproposal. The Eurogroup chairman said it would be ‘crazy’ to extend the Greek bailout beyond its midnight expiration: Greece was refusing to accept European proposals to raise taxes and cut welfare benefits (ibid).
 Because a default could affect Greek banks, the leaders of Greek banking have, for their own motivations, temporarily shut bank doors. They also decided to limit ATM withdrawals to 60 euros a day (ibid).
On Sunday, July 5, 2015, Greek voters will participate in a national referendum: accept the EU bailout with its requirements for belt-tightening, or reject the bailout. Greece’s voters are angry over belt-tightening demands: higher taxes, a higher retirement age, an end to subsidizing poorer pensioners and an increase to pensioners’ health-care contributions are just a few of those demands (ibid). They will vote to accept or reject the bailout provisions, each voter according to his own motivations.
On July 20, 2015, Greece has another obligation come due. It has to buy back from the European Central Bank (ECB) Greek bonds valued at 3.46 billion euros (app 3.8 billion USD) (ibid). If it fails to do so, the ECB can cut off Greece’s access to emergency loans. At that time, if Greece fails to act, the ECB will, for its own motivations, make a decision. Whatever the ECB decides, other creditors (including, by the way, the United States) will make their own decisions about their own debt—for their own motivations.
Every player here has his own motivations. Each acts according to those motivations.
HaShem—G-d—works His miracles through Man. You may not believe this, but everything He does on the world stage focuses ultimately on the Jewish nation. He did that in the Purim story. He’s doing it again in this Greece story.
What does the Jewish nation have to do with this Greece story? Stay tuned.
You won’t be disappointed.
 

Blog housekeeping

Today is July 1st. Half a year has gone by.


Y-T-D, I’ve published 194 essays. By contrast, I published 228 essays all last year.
In 2nd quarter 2015, I published 126 essays. That’s an average of 42 essays a month. At that pace, I’d complete 500+ essays for calendar 2015.
That’s a lot of writing. I’d guess that most serious bloggers who write a minimum of 500 words per essay publish half that number per year. I can understand why: it's hard work.
I’m going to change my pace. For the summer, I’m going to back off. My goal is 75 essays for the 3rd quarter, July 1-September 30. 
That means that, in theory at least, I should publish every week—but not every day. Please check the blog regularly. 
My goal is 22-28 essays a month. Will I keep that pace? Only G-d knows.
I hope you’ll keep reading!


 


 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Is Judaism in US better than in Israel?


Many religious American Jews don’t want to make aliyah (emigration to Israel). They say Israel isn’t religiously ‘Jewish’ enough.
Forget the fact that our Sages have said, “whoever dwells in Eretz Yisrael [the land of Israel] is considered to be one who has a G-d, and whoever dwells outside of Eretz Yisrael [land of Israel] is considered to be one who is G-dless..as if he worships idols (Tractate Ketubot, 110b; translation per ArtScroll Daf Yomi edition, 2011).
It doesn’t matter. America’s Jews are stubborn. Israel isn’t G-dly enough. They’d rather live with a majority of non-Jews.
That non-Jewish majority may now turn against religious Jews. On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the US (SCOTUS) ruled by a 5-4 margin that same-sex marriage must now be the law of the land (of USA) (Allen West, “Why the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage could lead to civil war”, allenbwest.com, June 26, 2015).
This ruling could cause problems for Orthodox Jews and their Orthodox Rabbis. For example, to paraphrase West (ibid), what will happen when a gay couple goes to an Orthodox Rabbi and asks to be married?
You say, wait a minute: why would a gay couple go to an Orthodox Rabbi to ask to be married? The answer, of course,  is simple: to sue that Rabbi and his synagogue for breaking the law.
Do you think the gay community isn’t anti-Semitic?  You’re wrong (Warren Hoffman, “Antisemitism in the Gay Community”, Huffington Post, January 27, 2015). Do you think the gay community—and its supporters—don’t identify Judaism as anti-gay? You’re wrong (ibid).
For many in America, Jewish ‘people’ aren’t the only ‘Jewish problem’. For them, the religion of Judaism—along with the Christian religion—are also ‘the problem’: both religions oppose gay marriage.
Within the religious Jewish community in America, both the Orthodox Agudat Israel of America and the Orthodox Union (OU)—the two top organizations for religious American Jews—understood immediately what this Court ruling could mean to religious Judaism. In a statement that came out the same day the ruling was announced, the Agudat Israel of America warned that its members face ‘moral opprobrium and were in danger of ‘tangible negative consequences’ if ‘[religious Rabbis and institutions] refuse to transgress their beliefs’ (Seth Lipsky, “U.S. gay marriage ruling puts Orthodox Jews on collision course with American law”, Haaretz, June 28, 2015).
Those ‘tangible negative consequences’ could well include expensive lawsuits. There will certainly be lawsuits as a result of this ruling because this decision opens a horrible ‘pandora’s box’: it could turn into a Constitutional nightmare.
It pits same-sex marriage against the Constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion (ibid). This new ruling means that a religious clergyperson, when confronted by a gay marriage request, can now obey either the law of the land or his religion. He has no other options.
This ruling will also create absurdity, and that’s not going to be good for those who are religious. For example, the ink on the ruling has hardly dried, but we’ve already seen the first absurdity: when Orthodox Jewish youth in New York City decided to protest a pro-gay parade on June 28, 2015, their school wouldn’t let them go to the parade. The public reason for this refusal was that going to such a parade wasn’t appropriate. But, privately, with such a new ruling, there might have also been some legal concerns as well: was it legal for a school to allow the youth in its charge to protest what was now legal?
Would your school want to take the risk of finding out how that could fall out--in today's pro-gay climate?
Nevertheless, it appears that someone—we don’t know who—felt that protesting gay life was still important. So ‘someone’ sent surrogates to do the protesting (Alex Griswold, “Orthodox Jews Can’t Protest Gay Pride Parade, Hire Mexicans Instead”, mediaite, June 29, 2015). 
Yes, plainly Hispanic men, dressed in absurd costumes that looked like comic imitations of ultra-religious Jewish clothing, protested the parade. Of all the crazy costumes in that gay pride parade, these Hispanic protesters ended up wearing the oddest costumes of all (ibid).
That absurdity doesn’t make Orthodox Jews look like geniuses.
Our Talmud (ibid) says that “a person should always dwell in Eretz Yisrael [land of Israel] even if he has to dwell with a majority of idolators, and a person should not dwell outside of Eretz Yisrael [even among] a majority of Jews” (per the ArtScroll translation, Ketubot, 110b).
Do religious Jews in America reject their Sages' words?  I can’t answer that question. But they certainly appear to prefer living among a majority of non-Jews.
The gemara here is correct. It really is better to live in Israel.
Perhaps the SCOTUS is sending a message. Perhaps it’s time for religious Jews to make aliyah.

Will a Greek default destroy the EU--or be a non-event?


Greece is like an addict. It’s addicted to a socialist economy—lots of jobs, high tax for producers, free this and that for everyone.

The problem is, it can’t pay for what it provides. It lives beyond its means. It borrows money to live.

Now it owes billions. Its creditors, including the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have been lending money to Greece for the last several years—and they’re now hesitant to give more. If they do give more, they want Greece to cut back on its free-spending life-style.

Greece refuses. The current (Leftist) government was voted into office specifically to block creditors from intruding on Greece’s free-spending ways. Yes, Greece needs more money to keep from defaulting on its loans. But it won’t do as its creditors demand.

Greece’s total debt pushes 243 billion euros, or app 269 billion US dollars (“How much Greece owes to international creditors”, Reuters, June 28, 2015). Most of that debt appears to date back to 2010 (ibid). Since then, European governments, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the IMF have granted two major bailouts to keep Greece from defaulting (ibid). Most of the the remaining debt appears mostly to be in Greek-issued government bonds that are held by a variety of European banks (ibid). There appear to be other creditors as well (ibid).

Greece owes a ton of money. It’s got a 1.6 billion euro debt that comes due June 30, 2015. It’s obligated to pay off that debt. It can’t.

Big loans make complex contracts. 269 billion (USD) in loans make extremely complex contracts. No one knows what will happen if Greece won’t or can’t pay that 1.6 billion euro loan.

The best case scenario is, nothing happens. The EU and Greece will come up with a plan. The worst case scenario is, the entire EU economy house of cards collapses.

It’ll be a spectacular collapse. Germany's exposure for the two bailouts totals 57.23 billion euros (ibid). France's exposure is 42.98 billion (ibid). Italy's is 37.76 billion and Spain's 25.1 billion (ibid). Few countries have the ability to cover exposures this large without some sort of economic pain.

This situation is virgin territory for the EU. It’s also an economic minefield. One false step, and something will blow up in somebody’s face.

Now the June 30th deadline looms. Greece says it will hold a national referendum on July 5, 2015 on the question of accepting a bailout that requires belt-tightening. The Leftist government in Greece has reported that it will abide by the results of that vote (Alastair MacDonald, “In? Out? In between? A Greek legal riddle for EU”, Reuters, June 30, 2015).

For now, the EU has declared that if Greece doesn’t accept its bailout terms, Greece could be expelled from the EU (ibid). The Greeks, meanwhile, declare that Greece has no intention of quitting the EU—and cannot be forced out (ibid).

The original EU agreements that created both the EU and the concept called the ‘euro zone’ are clear: there is no provision for expelling a country from either (ibid). Apparently, the only document that discusses a country leaving is one created in 2009. But that only dealt with a country that requests leaving. Greece says it has no intention of doing that.

Also, the underlying concept of EU agreements all focused on stating that, in effect, the euro currency was forever. No one ever dreamed that a member country would ‘break the rules’ (ibid).

Opps.

(I can’t help making a side-comment here. The EU acts as if G-d is liar when He said in the Torah that the borders of Israel, essentially, include all of Judea-Samaria. When the EU states that it's illegal for Jews to be in Judea-Samaria, it's saying G-d is wrong--or lying. Concerning Israel, the EU speaks as if its word is more perfect than G-d’s. But this ‘Greece problem’ demonstrates that the EU clearly doesn’t know how to create ‘perfect words’ that will last forever. If the EU can’t create a world for itself, why does it think it knows better than G-d regarding Israel?)

In this Greece-EU struggle, no one knows who’s got the upper hand. Does the EU hold Greece by the, ahem, with its threat of expulsion; or is it the other way around—does Greece have the upper hand with its legal challenge of, ‘you can’t touch me’; or, will each squeeze the other into a painful stalemate where both will suffer?

The EU thinks a lot of itself. But it’s ignorant. It knows nothing about Israel. It knows nothing about the words of G-d in the ‘Old Testament’. It knows nothing about the economic mess it’s gotten itself into. It’s clueless on all three issues.

If you want to know what happens when you give a lot of power to stupid, bigoted people, look at the EU.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Everyone attacks Israel. Fight back!


Man flexes his muscle to show his greatness. Man celebrates his power. He celebrates by attacking and humiliating Israel.

Apparently, attacking Israel has become the sport of nations. Bashing G-d’s Treasures (Israel and the Jewish people) has become the fad of the decade.

You don’t have to take all the bashing. You don’t have to feel personally assaulted, humiliated or shamed by anti-Israel and anti-Jewish attacks. You can fight back—at least, you can strike back. It doesn’t matter that your effort might be a small one. What counts is, you act.

Of course, if many of you take the same action (see below), your collective effort won’t be so small. Your collective effort could pick up enough steam to make a difference.
Will you make that effort?

The attempts to humiliate Israel are on the rise. The new 2015 UN Gaza Report just out condemns the world’s most moral army—the IDF (“Report of the detailed findings of the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict”, ohchr. org, June 23, 2015). This hostile UN Report even calls upon countries to arrest travelling Israeli officials and IDF officers to try them as war criminals.

The so-called ‘Palestinian Authority’ joins the UN’s effort to humiliate and criminalize Israel: it has just submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC) official papers accusing Israel of war crimes (“Palestinians submit documents against Israel to ICC”, JTA, June 25, 2015). It aims to “prove” that Israel commits war crimes and crimes against humanity. It wants to make Israel the modern re-incarnation of Nazi Germany.

Then there's Iran. It wants to destroy Israel. It wants a nuclear weapon. It negotiates with the West. It demands ever more concessions.
A June 30, 2015 deadline approaches. The West seems eager to concede to Iran.

Last month, the website NGO Monitor revealed that the European Union (EU) pads its anti-Israel credentials by funding vicious anti-Israel Non-Government Organizations (NGOs). Some of these EU-funded groups promote anti-Semitic cartoons and have published claims that Jews use Christian blood to make Passover matzah (Alana Goodman, “Report: UN, European Governments Funding Anti-Israel Groups”, Washington Free Beacon, May 11, 2015). Others work actively in Israel to isolate and demonize Israel.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement tries to make economic war against Israel. It wants you to boycott Israel.

You are not without a voice in all of this. You can speak. You can vote. Indeed, you can vote with the most powerful weapon you possess: you dollars.

Don’t laugh. The world runs on your dollars. When you spend—or don’t spend—people listen.

Here are some suggestions. Most of these come from usastandswithisrael. This list is not exhaustive. It’s a start:

-Start or join a ‘Buy Israel’ group. As one example, go to buyisraelgoods. org. Go to your geographic area (if you’re in the USA). Look for Israeli products. In fact, even if you do not live in one of the locations listed, when you want to buy something specific, you can still find out what brand names to look for. Just click on a regional city near you, click on the product category you’re interested in, and identify brand names and retail outlets; some of those brands and outlets might be in your city/area. Your ‘buy Israel’ commitment will help fight the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. It will help Israel stay economically strong.

-If you don’t want to start a ‘buy Israel campaign’, then shop for Israeli product: wine, cheese, hummus, Israeli cosmetics and clothes designed by Israelis (ibid). Some of their names might show up on the lists discussed just above. Buy pharmaceuticals from Israeli companies such as Teva that make generic drugs (ibid). Buy SodaStream for your table.

-Boycott Europe. Take holidays in Israel. Don't take European vacations. Write the Consulates and tell them why you won't be coming to Europe this year (ibid).

-Boycott businesses that boycott Israel.  Boycott businesses that support pressuring Israel. Find ‘Contact us’ on their websites and tell them you won’t do business with them so long as they work to hurt Israel.
-Don't send your children to colleges where anti-Israel foment is rabid. Tell these schools you won't support any place that promotes hate and discrimination.
If you’re a businessman, put Europe at the end of the line when selling goods and services overseas. Certainly, if you sell innovative medical techniques, medications and technology (ibid), try not to sell into the EU. Let those Europeans know it's because the EU refuses to admit Jewish settlements are legal (ibid).

These are small, individual efforts. Individually, they don’t add up. But taken together, you’re talking millions of dollars, perhaps tens of millions—perhaps more.

Now it’s your turn. How would you add to this list?

If you’d make a different list, what would be on it?

Share your ideas. Fight back!

 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Jewish history and more, according to American colleges


A reader has sent to me an essay. It’s good.

It’s from The Observer. Written by Paul Miller, it’s called, “Israel-Hating Professor Hired to Teach Class on Israel at U of Missouri”. It appeared June 24, 2015. The subtitle is, “U.S. Higher Education Goes Down the Rabbit Hole”. I’ve edited it to fit my format. Take a look:

 

“Would you let David Duke teach a class on African-American history? How about Anita Bryant starting an LGBTQ studies program?  This is almost incomprehensible . It’s got the makings of a Saturday Night Live skit. But this is no laughing matter. This insanity is a reality--and your children are being indoctrinated.

George Smith despises Israel. The University of Missouri (Mizzou) biology professor has called the creation of the Jewish State “a shameful chapter in Jewish history.” Smith finds humor in Hamas rocket attacks against Israeli citizens. When Sderot (Israel) resident Noam Bedein came to Mizzou to discuss the nearly 13,000 rockets Hamas has fired, killing and injuring the people of Sderot, Smith showed up and distributed fliers that mocked the attacks – justifying terrorism because the average Palestinian has to “go through a checkpoint every time he has to take a sh*t.”

 

But in their infinite wisdom, university officials at Mizzou felt that Smith’s decades-long history of denouncing the Jewish State and its right to exist did not disqualify him from being a fair and objective lecturer on Israel’s history. They also saw no need for him to have any formal education or expertise in Middle East studies. Smith, a scientist, was approved to teach … wait for it … “Perspectives on Zionism.”

Your eyes are not deceiving you. A class about Zionism, the belief that the Jewish people have a G-d-given right, affirmed by international law, to a country of their own and that that country belongs in the biblical Land of Israel, will be taught by a completely unqualified faculty member who calls the establishment of Israel the “Palestinian Holocaust.”

However, leave it to the students to see through a college’s progressive agenda and academic malfeasance to right a wrong.

As reported by JNS.org, “Perspectives on Zionism,” which was scheduled to be taught by self-proclaimed “post-Zionist and Nakba [catastrophe] Jew-in-law” George Smith, was nixed due to no enrollment, according to a June 10 announcement.

With Israel under siege on college campuses, often in the form of blatant anti-Semitism, don’t tell me no students were interested in this course. What happened was, students associated with pro-Israel organizations such as Christians United for Israel, StandWithUs and Students Supporting Israel sprang into action and educated their peers on the absurdly offensive nature of this course.

Where the Mizzou administrators failed, the students prevailed.

In keeping with the new tradition in academia of excusing anti-Semitism and the delegitimizing of Israel under the banner of “progressive thinking,” the University of California, Riverside was comfortable with blatant anti-Semites teaching a course on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Student Tina Matar, who heads the UCR chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, an organization dedicated to the elimination of Israel, was teaching the course. The course’s faculty sponsor was English professor David Lloyd, founder of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

This class was so blatantly one-sided that the non-partisan Verity Educate, a non-profit group that analyzes the accuracy and objectivity of classroom curricula, determined that the course’s “written material, particularly Dr. Steven Salaita’s ‘Israel’s Dead Soul,’ raises extremely serious questions about whether the course itself contributes to anti-Semitism.”

The offensive nature of this course is part and parcel of the epidemic of anti-Semitism that has engulfed the 10-school UC education system in recent years, from Holocaust imagery appearing on campuses, to a Jewish student’s religious identity becoming an issue disqualifying her from serving on student government.

But we’re not just seeing anti-Semitism and disdain for Israel being promoted by academia. Apparently, beheading Christians, throwing gays off buildings and turning women into sex slaves is also hunky-dory.

As my colleague and professor emeritus Abraham H. Miller wrote last week in the Washington Times:

If you want to understand why academicians are often society’s court jesters, then the program titled, “ISIS – An Historical Perspective,” presented at the University of California, Santa Barbara last month, would have gone a long way toward providing an explanation.

Up to bat in defense of Islamic extremism and to absolve the Islamic State of the brutality that daily lacerates the sensitivities of civilized human beings were assistant professor of history Sherene Seikaly and her colleague, professor Adam Sabra.

Billed as seeking to “contextualize” ISIS formation and actions, the two professors engaged in nonsense that should have incited the audience to question how they ever were awarded degrees.

Seikaly and Sabra are in good company when it comes to excusing terrorism and blaming America. Earlier this month Drexel University in Philadelphia gave an honorary degree to Noam Chomsky. The MIT linguistics professor (emeritus) has embraced, literally, the Iranian terror group Hezbollah and has called the principles of Hamas as “preferable to the policies of America and Israel.” Hamas charter calls for the annihilation of the Jewish State and Jewish people.

“That’s the reason they’re called lessons,” the Gryphon remarked: “because they lessen from day to day.” – Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

By the way, your kid’s tuition payment is due next month.

 

 

2015 UN Gaza Report: Hamas and IDF are not moral equals


The 2015 UN Report on the 2014 Gaza-Israel war (“Report of the detailed findings of the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict”, ohchr. org) is an attempt to identify war crimes committed in that war. It treats Israel and Hamas as moral equals (Shahar Azani, “The world’s betrayal of Israel,” Huffington Post, June 24, 2015).  They are not.

The very fact that this UN study treats Israel and Hamas as moral equals signals to you that the Commission which wrote this Report doesn’t understand the challenges of modern war. It doesn’t understand the laws of war (called, International Humanitarian Law, or IHL), Israel’s commitment to those laws—or the extent to which Hamas violates those laws.

Look at modern war. In the 21st Century, war is a very complicated business. It’s no longer just a military endeavour. Those days are gone.

The only way an army can avoid committing war crimes today is to commit to the laws of war (IHL). Today, an army needs more than an expertise in weapons, manpower allocation and strategy to step onto a battlefield. It needs legal expertise.

The IDF has that expertise (Willy Stern, “Attorneys at War: Inside an elite Israeli military law unit”, The Weekly Standard, June 15, 2015). Hamas does not. That’s one reason the IDF and Hamas are not moral equals.

One doesn’t have to be some kind of moral rocket scientist to understand this distinction. Nevertheless, the Commission which wrote this UN Report appears clueless about it.

In the West, most armies are not up to speed on making modern warfare ‘legal’ (ibid). If tested, they’d fail the legal part of warfare (ibid).

There are few armies in the world prepared to go to war legally. Around the world, many argue that Israel has one of the best—if not the best--military capacity to follow the laws of war (ibid).

Hamas has no such capacity. This is another reason Hamas and the IDF are not moral equals. But regarding this distinction, this UN Commission is clueless.

If the Commission which wrote this document was competent, it would start its Report with the most basic of moral war requirements: an army which is moral must drill its personnel at every level on how to fight within the laws of war. There is simply no other way to fight a war ‘legally’.

Israel commits to such drill. Hamas does not.

This is another reason Hamas and the IDF are not moral equals. Regarding this moral training requirement, this UN Commission is clueless.

Think about the importance of moral training in war. Every time a combatant shoots at anyone, he runs the risk of committing an illegal act—a war crime. The laws of war (IHL) are that strict. Yes, IHL certainly permits a combatant to shoot. But a combatant has that legal permission only under specific, pre-determined conditions. If he does not meet those conditions, he commits a war crime. If he never learned about those conditions, he will commit war crimes. If he was told what those conditions were but never trained in them, he will commit war crimes.

Israel’s officers and soldiers are trained how to operate within those conditions. Hamas offers no such training. Regarding this distinction, the Commission is clueless.

The IDF and Hamas are not moral equals.

Battle commanders operate with even stricter rules. If a battle commander doesn’t understand the conditions within which he must work, he, too, will commit war crimes (ibid).

Hamas doesn’t train its commanders how to operate within those conditions. The IDF does.

Hamas and the IDF are not moral equals.

Regarding how commanders must be trained to fight morally, this UN Commission is clueless. It thinks Hamas and the IDF are morally equal.

Hamas fighters have no ethical training. IDF soldiers do. Hamas commanders have no commitment to follow ethical rules. IDF commanders do. Hamas has no infrastructure in place to help commanders fight within the laws of IHL. IDF does.

Hamas and the IDF are not moral equals.

The Commission suggests that it knows about laws of war (IHL). But it’s clueless about how these laws work in war.

Here now is a very tiny glimpse at how Israel fights its wars according to the laws of war. This is just one example. As you read, you should keep in mind that no other army in the world (ibid) fights this way (the following is a long excerpt  from the Willy Stern essay, above):

Look at two documents. The first is from the IDF. The second is from Hamas.

The first document is an IDF ‘target card’. It’s used when commanders prepare strikes against enemy targets.

The cards contain a wealth of information about each target from intelligence and operations units. Before any attack can go forward, IDF legal advisers have to sign off on that card. These lawyers must put their own check mark on the card—they call it a ‘tick’—indicating that it’s a lawful target.

At that point the target is approved. It’ll go forward unless the commander himself nixes it.

Hamas has no such protocol. It uses no lawyers. When Hamas attacks, it has no idea if its attack is legal or not. It doesn’t even care if an attack is legal.

Hamas and the IDF are not moral equals. The Commission, however, believes they are. The Commission is clueless.

How can any military win a war when it decides to fight with lawyers having the right to cancel every attack? The question is irrelevant. This is how Israel fights.

The Commission is clueless.

In Gaza, the IDF prepared and used more than 4,000 of these target cards for strikes during the 50-day conflict in July-August 2014. An attorney had to put a ‘tick’ on every attack that met their standards before it could start (I understand that, due to battlefield conditions, there are times when deliberation is impossible; an attack must be initiated within seconds. I understand also that battle commanders who work with lawyers during battle do have the discretion to act in such split-second situations—and do so legally).

The second document is from Hamas. It’s not an ethics manual. It’s not for verifying the legality of actions in battle. It’s a ‘doctrine manual’ prepared by Hamas. It was captured by IDF ground forces in Shejaiya, Gaza in early August, 2014. The document advocates that fighters embed themselves among Gazan innocents, in the hope that the IDF will kill civilians” (ibid).

Hamas and Israel are not moral equals. It’s an absurdity to suggest they are. If the Commission which wrote this Report fails to understand this distinction, it has no business investigating for war crimes. It doesn’t understand the first thing about ethical war.