Thursday, July 09, 2015
US Expert: Hamas, not Israel, Killed Boys on Beach in Gaza War
A year after Protective Edge, which Israel won militarily but lost PR-wise, evidence surfaces of a particularly cynical Hamas stunt
One of the incidents most widely disseminated as "proof" of Israeli war crimes during its defensive Operation Protective Edge in Gaza last year was the deaths of four Arab youths on a Gaza beachfront used exclusively by Hamas terrorists. Foreign journalists reported as fact that Israeli war planes had bombed a beachfront, killing four youths – and the incident was highlighted in the recent UN Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry.
The Commission's report blamed Israel for failing "to take all feasible measures to avoid or at least minimize incidental harm to civilians," questioned the "urgency" of the attack in the first place, and blamed Israel for prematurely closing its investigation into the incident after having found no fault in IDF actions.
At the time, Israel's "defense" was that incidents of this nature were to be attributed to the Hamas practice of "acting from places where the maximum civilians would be harmed," in the words of a National Security Studies Institute researcher cited in the report.
However, it now appears that Israel need not take any approach to defend its actions - as the children on the beach were apparently killed not by its forces, but by Hamas itself.
The evidence for such has been gathered by a US-based weapons expert named Thomas Wictor. After conducting a forensic analysis of what happened on the day, pieced together using Hamas propaganda footage, film from various international TV networks, and photographs, Wictor has concluded that the boys killed on the beach were murdered by Hamas in a “Pallywood-style” propaganda stunt.
The evidence may or may not give pause to the Palestinian Authority (PA), which has been planning to present the incident to the International Criminal Court as evidence of alleged Israeli “war crimes.”
Wictor's stance appears in a movie ‘’War crimes in Gaza’’ by French filmmaker Pierre Rehov, which was presented for the first time last week in the European Parliament in Brussels during a seminar on ‘’The Anti-Semitism of Hamas.’’
Wictor says in the film that the victims ''were not, as some media reports claimed, 'scrawny fishermen’s kids,' but members of a powerful family prominent in support of the Fatah Party – Hamas’s arch-rivals. In other words, Hamas had every reason to consider these children expendable.''
Partly based on the fact that the many photographs of the dead boys curiously showed no bleeding, Wictor says that they were probably executed by Hamas the day before and that the corpses were then blown up in a Hamas-arranged explosion the next day.
Most compelling of all, it would seem, is the footage showing the first reporter to arrive on the scene, Alex Marquardt of ABC news. ‘’He (and many others) are clearly shown running past the exact spot where the mangled bodies of three of the dead children were found later," Wicker states. "But the spot is empty: no blood, no bodies, just sand. Had they been there, they would have been impossible to miss.’’
EJP reports that this is one of many clues leading Wictor to infer that the bodies were placed there later, after the beach had been cleared by many Hamas operatives stage-managing the stunt and distracting the press. Several of them are clearly visible in the footage, including a man in a purple shirt who appears to be in charge of the operation.
Pierre Rehov also appears in the movie, wondering why “so many cameras were filming the sea at this very moment. Were reporters expecting something to happen? [If so], who informed them?”
Honoring our Forefathers
Like nearly all South Carolinians, I was deeply saddened upon learning of the senseless murders at the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. At the time, I was serving (military duties) outside the state when I also learned one of the slain was related to a fellow soldier.
I continue to pray for the families. Their Christian witness after the tragedy impacted us all.
For the sake of respect for the victims and their families, I did not believe it appropriate to write an article in response to the Confederate flag issue in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy; not during the period for mourning. I had to pray about timing, as I wanted nothing I said to detract from the care of the families. However, now that we have had an opportunity to grieve (and with the recent U.S. Supreme Court gay marriage decision undermining states' 10th Amendment powers), I feel compelled to offer a contrasting view about the Confederate Battle Flag.
First, family connections to both the Confederate flag and the "Stars and Stripes" are a common theme among Southerners, and will help provide perspective.
My family's history is but one anecdote of many southern families. And my full name - William Mellard "Bill" Connor V - reflects that history.
My namesake and great-great grandfather, William Mellard Connor, left Orangeburg District for Charleston with the Edisto Rifles, a company of militia, in 1861. He was 16-years-old and owned no slaves, but enlisted out of a sense of duty to his state and as part of his militia company. When the Edisto Rifles reached Charleston, he served with the S.C. 2nd Heavy Artillery (CSA). This unit manned the coastal artillery defending Charleston throughout the war, but was transformed to infantry when Charleston surrendered in Feb. 1865. Those still alive, including my ancestor, fought as infantry against Gen. William T. Sherman's invading forces, and they surrendered after fighting at the battle of Bentonville, N.C.
His son, my great-grandfather William Mellard Connor II, was raised in an impoverished state after Reconstruction, but chose to leave S.C. to serve under the "Stars and Stripes" during the Philippine Insurrection. He served as a U.S. Army officer for decades, retiring from the U.S. Army after World War II. Fittingly, he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Robert E. Lee's former Estate.
His son, my grandfather William Mellard Connor III, was appointed to West Point from S.C. in 1936, serving under the "Stars and Stripes" in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, ultimately retiring to Charleston.
His son, my father, William Mellard Connor IV, served 24 years as a career Army officer under the "Stars and Stripes," including tours of duty in Vietnam.
Growing up, my father was always clear to his children that our loyalty was with the United States of America first and foremost. That said, he taught us the words to - and we sang - "Dixie" on long car trips. And we displayed Confederate battle pictures among the many military memorabilia in our home. I now do the same. We were proud of our family history, including our Confederate ancestor.
Throughout my own military career under the Stars and Stripes, including overseas in places like the Middle East and Afghanistan, the example of self-sacrifice of those forefathers helped drive my decision to serve.
Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb, a Naval Academy graduate and Navy Cross recipient from his time as a Marine Infantry officer in Vietnam, wrote about his Southern Heritage in the book "Born Fighting." He notes the disproportionately high percentage of Southerners who have served in the U.S. military since the Civil War.
As a Southerner with a long U.S. military family history, Webb reminds us of the Southern military culture critical in winning our nation's wars. Many of our most respected "warrior" military leaders of the 20th century - like Army Gen. George S. Patton and Marine icon Gen. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller - were direct descendants of Confederate veterans. They were proud of their Southern Heritage, yet loyal to the values of the United States.
I write this to explain why the heritage of the South, symbolized by the Confederate Battle Flag, is so important to many. Not only to the millions of families like mine, but also to the history of the nation. In the first major conflict after the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, the commander of the U.S. Cavalry in Cuba was "fighting Joe" Wheeler, a former Confederate General. His division contained Teddy Roosevelt and the "Rough Riders."
Additionally, Robert E. Lee's son served as a senior officer during that war. By the 1950s, the U.S. Code was amended to include Confederate Veterans as U.S. veterans, giving proof to the loyalty and sacrifice the sons of the old Confederacy showed the United States.
The Confederate Battle Flag symbolizes not only the bravery and dedication of the men who fought for their country (state), but it also symbolizes the Southern heritage since the Civil War. I believe this memorialization, along with the U.S. flag which flies on top of the statehouse, provides a visual representation of the unique history of S.C. in our Federal system of government. The flag flying on the grounds is a square "Infantry" flag, the "southern cross" Confederate Battle Flag used in the Army of Northern Virginia.
It is not the rectangular "Stars and Bars" Confederate National Flag. The S.C. Battle flag honors the soldiers, not the government of the former Confederacy.
Most of us who believe in the importance of Southern History understand the other side in relation to the flag. The Southern Cross was unfortunately waved by certain hate groups, thereby becoming associated with racism to many. However, those same groups also waved the Stars and Stripes, particularly during the darkest days of lynching in the 1920s and 1930s.
Slavery, which continued in "Union" States during the Civil War, including Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware, was a blight on our national history. That national sin has been acknowledged by all reasonable people, Northern and Southern alike, and put behind us.
If the Battle flag comes down due to the institution of slavery under the Confederacy, we must understand the dangerous precedence. We would then target memorials of slaveholders like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and even the Stars and Stripes.
Fifteen years ago, a compromise was reached between the two sides; showing respect to the complicated sensitivities of the flag. The decision was made to take the Confederate Battle Flag off the statehouse dome and put it on the statehouse grounds. Moreover, a civil rights memorial would be (and has been) built on the grounds.
While stationed outside the state during that time, I explained to a general-officer why I believed so many South Carolinians were opposed to removing the flag from the dome. That the fear that any compromise would not be honored in the long term and that the real goal was to "cleanse" all reminders of Confederate veterans. That General told me those fears were unreasonable, particularly with the compromise of building the civil rights memorial to honor the sensibilities of those opposing the flag. It remains to be seen who was right.
Unfortunately, we are already seeing "slippery slope" fears realized. Voices from primarily outside the state are now comparing those who fought for the Confederacy to Nazis. They are demanding names like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson be banished throughout the United States.
This is becoming a cleansing similar to what happened with Nazi symbols in Germany after Adolf Hitler. Most would agree that Confederate Veterans cannot be compared to the Nazi SS and genocide, but that doesn't stop the rhetoric. Interestingly, a recent poll conducted by CNN found that over half of Americans, North and South, viewed the Confederate flag as heritage and not racism.
Let's come together as South Carolinians and Americans, the way we did after the shootings, but before the diversion of the flag issue. Let's come together in honoring our collective past, leaving a symbolic reminder of the uniqueness of our state under our Constitution system. Let's come together the way the late Rev. Clementa Pinckney did when he voted for the compromise 15 years ago.
Let's move to the future, while never forgetting our blessed heritage; a heritage of those who sacrificed so much for the state during the Civil War, and their children who sacrificed for this nation and our freedom.
The politically correct war on everything
Let’s set aside all the politicians, celebrities, and the media for a moment. Oh yes, don’t we wish that could be permanent?
Now consider most of the rest of the population, on EVERY side of EVERY issue; the people who seem to believe that they should and must find some way to get everyone else to accept their views as the ONLY correct view.
Now, that would be unremarkable if the method for that was persuasion, using their own lives as a positive example. Unfortunately, that’s not the case all too often, and far too many – remember that this applies to ALL “sides” of the issues – seem to think nothing of using force, fraud and outright lies, especially the force of government, to push their agenda and punish all who will not submit.
Why do so many people seem to have the burning desire to control the lives of others, dictating even what they must THINK? None of those would-be controllers seem to want someone else to dictate to them! Funny how the shoe doesn’t fit the other foot.
I wonder what would happen if everyone simply minded their own business, associated freely with those they felt comfortable with, traded freely with anyone agreeable to the trade, and spent their time and efforts improving their own thinking and understanding of life and whatever they believe, rather than focus on trying to change everyone else to agree with them.
What if ordinary people finally realized that nobody, especially any government, had legitimate authority to control their lives and steal their property? What if people stopped believing that they had any authority to rob their neighbors, simply because the “majority” voted to do so – or because they could manipulate the politicians to make that happen?
The politicians would soon find they needed to get honest jobs, since they would no longer have influence over much of anyone. The celebrities would have to go back to making movies or whatever it is they do, and stop pretending to be “experts” on everything. The media might shrink to a few honest folks that others found interesting to read or listen to. Everyone with a cell phone is now a “news” reporter. Funky pictures sometimes, but it beats all hollow the controlling lies of the MSM.
If there were no “witch burning” mobs to stir up, and everyone tended to his/her own business… maybe we’d have something significant to celebrate one of these days.
How judges corrode the rule of law
by Jeff Jacoby
DURING HIS Supreme Court confirmation hearings in 2005, then-Judge John Roberts emphasized his strong belief in judicial modesty. "Judges are like umpires," Roberts famously said. "Umpires don't make the rules; they apply them." If confirmed as chief justice, he promised, "I will remember that it's my job to call balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat."
But it was no impartial umpire who authored last week's 6-3 opinion in King v. Burwell, the Obamacare subsidy case. Far from applying the rules as enacted in the Affordable Care Act, the chief justice discounted those rules as the product of "inartful drafting," passed by Congress without sufficient "care and deliberation." The lawmakers' substandard work product, he argued, freed the Supreme Court to disregard the statute's plain language, construing it to mean the opposite of what it says.
The specific issue was whether health plans purchased through insurance exchanges established by the federal government are eligible for tax subsidies. Since the law explicitly restricts subsidies to "an exchange established by the state," the answer should be obvious. But disallowing subsidies in states that refused to establish exchanges might have caused Obamacare to implode. That wasn't an outcome Roberts wished to risk, so he turned the straightforward meaning on its head. "An exchange established by the state," he wrote, also means an exchange not established by the state.
In short, as law professor Jonathan Adler tartly observed, the "umpire" took it on himself "to pinch hit to ensure the right team wins."
Roberts is hardly the first justice to succumb to the temptation to contort the law's plain text to generate a desired policy result. Ten years ago, the court infamously ruled in Kelo v. City of New London that private homes could be seized by eminent domain and given to corporate developers. The Fifth Amendment authorizes such takings only when the government needs the land for a legitimate "public use" — for instance, to build a highway. But in a 5-4 opinion by Justice John Paul Stevens, the court decided that "public use" could also mean private use, so long as the new owners were expected to create new jobs or pay more taxes than the dispossessed former owners. In effect, Kelo empowered government to transfer almost any owner's property to a more powerful private party: exactly what the constitutional language forbids.
The Commerce Clause is another constitutional passage whose meaning has been corrupted by judicial presumption.
One of the federal government's limited powers, enumerated in Article I, is "to regulate commerce . . . among the several states." For most of American history, Congress and the courts respected the obvious distinction between interstate trade, over which federal regulators have authority, and purely local intrastate activity, which the Constitution placed beyond their reach. That distinction died with Wickard v. Filburn, a 1942 case in which an Ohio farmer was penalized for growing more wheat than federal rules allowed. Nearly all of Roscoe Filburn's wheat was consumed on his own farm; none crossed state lines. Yet on the theory that even a few bushels of home-consumed wheat might indirectly affect the national wheat market, the justices decided that Congress could regulate it. By that logic, Congress can regulate everything. Now, alas, it does.
Take one more case of justices riding roughshod over a text's clear meaning: United Steelworkers v. Weber. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, it is "unlawful" for "any employer" to discriminate on the basis of race in "on-the-job training programs." So when Kaiser Aluminum set up an on-the-job training program that gave preference to black employees, the white employee who sued had an open-and-shut case, right? Wrong: In a 1979 decision, Justice William Brennan wrote that the excluded white worker could not rely "upon a literal construction" of the law, since Congress's intention had been to improve the condition of blacks. Bottom line? A law prohibiting race-based hiring must be interpreted to permit race-based hiring. Brennan favored racial preferences. Therefore racial preferences would be upheld, statute or no statute.
The rule of law isn't indestructible. It is corroded by judges who act like superlegislators — never more so than when torturing the plain words of the law, forcing them to say what they don't mean.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.