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Facts and Logic About
the Middle East
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November 21, 2012

The mythical "cycle of violence" between Israel and Hamas: Why do the media buy this lie—and how can we combat it?

Dear Friend of FLAME:

As we sit down tomorrow to a peaceful and comfortable Thanksgiving holiday, we should also be mindful of the plight of our brothers and sisters in Israel under daily terrorist missile attacks . . . and yes, of the equally terrifying lot of the common Palestinian Arab in Gaza.

The Israelis, of course, have since 2005 been subjected to some 8,000 jihadi rockets aimed specifically at their civilian population---a war crime 8,000 times over, with barely a murmur of protest from the "international community." 

The Palestinians, of course, are victims of one of the most evil and cynical regimes on earth---an Islamist dictatorship whose primary strategy is bombing its neighbor’s citizens and then hiding behind its own civilians in their homes, hospitals and houses of worship, whose people are then made to suffer justifiable retaliation from the Israel Defense Forces, one of the most sophisticated military organizations on earth.

There are two puzzles we have to solve here: 1) Why would Hamas be so stupid as to pick a fight with well-armed Israel; and 2) why do the media insist on calling this conflict "a cycle of violence," "recurring hostilities" and "an exchange of missile attacks"---as though they were describing chronically quarrelling neighbors?

A short answer to the first question: Hamas is not stupid: It knows that by provoking Israel into a fight and then hiding behind its own civilians, Israel’s military response, no matter how surgically targeted, will inevitably kill some innocent Palestinians, preferably children.  These "tragic" deaths will capture the sympathy of the Western press and, by extension, of the "international community."  It’s a cynical game, but it’s one Hamas plays expertly.  We Israel supporters must expose this cruel, murderous public relations ploy.

As for the second question: Why have the mainstream media insisted on depicting the conflict as a moral equivalency between Israel and Hamas---simply two neighbors who can’t get along---when clearly Hamas has been the criminal aggressor for seven years now?

The short answer: Many Western journalists do not follow Israeli-Palestinian relations as closely as we do.  They are not informed about Hamas’s thousands of aggressions, will not admit that Hamas is absolutely sworn to Israel’s violent destruction and don’t care to distinguish between the terror felt by average Israelis under daily missile attacks for years and the fear experienced by average Gazans under the shock and awe of a retaliatory attack by Israeli fighter jets.

That’s not to forgive the media for their irresponsibility.  We don’t.  But we can’t sit idly by while the media misrepresent Israel and the despicable actions of Hamas.  This week’s FLAME Hotline article, by Alan Dershowitz, Professor of Law at Harvard, is a call to the media---and to those of us capable of writing letters to the editor---to shatter the false veneer of balance affected by those reporters and editors.

The article below gives you the facts you need to write a flurry of letters to the media correcting their unfair characterization of the conflict in Israel and Gaza.  We must flood the media’s op-ed and letters sections with forceful, indignant clarifications of the truth: Israel has been attacked, Israel has used amazing restraint in responding, Israel is making every possible effort to spare innocent Palestinian lives . . . while Hamas is making every concerted effort to murder innocent Israeli citizens. Israel’s goal is peace, the terrorists’ goal is conquest.

As usual, I urge you to pass this short, but sharply outspoken article along to friends, colleagues, and fellow congregants using the "send to a friend" button at the bottom of this email, or using the buttons above to share it via social media.  I guarantee that you and your contacts will be glad you did.

Above all, I hope you’ll take 10 minutes---or even an hour---to write as many letters to the editor as you can to spread the truth about the painful choices Israel has been forced to make and the righteousness of her struggle. Thanks for your continued support of Israel in these difficult times, and thank you for your support of FLAME.

Best regards,

Jim Sinkinson
Vice President
Facts and Logic About the Middle East – FLAME


Since the West Bank Palestinians have for so long refused to come to the negotiating table with Israel, we at FLAME have made a "modest proposal" that I think you’ll appreciate.  It’s called "The Most Practical Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Can the two current proposed solutions bring peace to the region?" This position paper suggests that since peace negotiations---based on the tired "one-state" and "two-state" solutions---are going nowhere, it would be more productive for Israel and the Palestinians to give up for now and make the best of the current impasse, in fact to embrace it. We’ve just begun publishing this bold position paper in media reaching more than 10 million people and delivered it to all U.S. Senators and Representatives. Ask yourself: If FLAME doesn't keep telling the truth about the current futility of the "peace process," who else will tell this story in mainstream media? If you agree that these kinds of forceful advocacy efforts on behalf of Israel and the United States are essential, I urge you to support us. Remember: FLAME's ability to influence public opinion comes from individuals like you, one by one. I hope you'll consider giving a donation now, as you're able---with $500, $250, $100, or even $18. (Remember, your donation to FLAME is tax deductible.) To donate online, just go to Now more than ever we need your support to ensure that Israel gets the support it needs---from the U.S. Congress, from President Obama, and from the American people.


As of today, nearly 10,000 Israel supporters receive the FLAME Hotline at no charge every week. It keeps them up to date on the top news of the week and gives them greater confidence in discussing Middle East issues with friends and colleagues. Won't you join us to start receiving these timely updates: Just go to free subscription.

Israel's right to self-defense against Hamas
The media and international community's failure to distinguish between the Israeli military and Hamas terrorists is not only immoral but encourages terrorism and erodes the basic principles of just warfare.

By Alan M. Dershowitz, Haaretz, November 18, 2012

As Hamas continues to target Israeli civilians in their homes, Israel continues to target terrorist leaders and other legitimate military targets. Hamas has now succeeded in killing a family of three in their home. Targeting civilians, such as that family, is a calculated Hamas policy designed to sow terror among the Israeli population. Hamas supporters celebrate the murder of Jewish civilians. Every rocket fired by Hamas from one of its own civilian areas at a non-military Israeli target is a double war crime that should be universally condemned by all reasonable people. Israel’s response—targeting only terrorists and Hamas military leaders – is completely lawful and legitimate. It constitutes an act of self-defense pursuant to Article 51 of the United Nations Charter and universally accepted principles of international law.

There is absolutely no comparison between the murderous war crimes being committed by Hamas and the lawful targeting of terrorists by the Israeli military. Yet the Egyptian government, now controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, has condemned Israel while remaining relatively silent about Hamas. This should not be surprising, since Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Some in the media also insist on describing the recent events in Gaza as "a cycle of violence," without distinguishing between the war crimes committed by Hamas and the lawful actions undertaken by Israel to protect its citizens against such war crimes. It would be as if the media described lawful police efforts to stop illegal drug-related murders as a "cycle of violence." Yet J Street, an organization that persists in calling itself pro-Israel, insists on describing the situation in Gaza as a "spiral of violence."

What would Egypt do if Hamas or Islamic Jihad suddenly began to lob deadly shells in the direction of Cairo suburbs? What would any country do? President Obama was entirely correct in defending Israel’s right to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks and in condemning Hamas for initiating these attacks. He is also correct in calling for Israel to try its best to avoid unnecessary civilian casualties, as Israel has always done and continues to do. The targeted killing of Hamas military commander Ahmed al-Jabari is a case and point. He and a Hamas associate were killed in a pinpoint airstrike that apparently caused no collateral damage.

There are some who argue, quite absurdly, that all targeted assassination is unlawful, since it constitutes "extrajudicial killing." But all military deaths are extrajudicial killings, as are deaths caused in the civilian context by individual acts of self-defense or by the police shooting a dangerous fleeing felon. In fact, only Israel among all the countries of the world has subjected its policy of targeted killing of terrorists to judicial review. The Israeli Supreme Court has set out careful and precise criteria for when targeted killing is appropriate and which people constitute appropriate targets under international law. Ahmed Jabari plainly fits within those criteria.

Israel’s response to the Hamas rockets must of course be proportional, but proportionality does not require that Israel wait until a large number of its civilians are actually killed or seriously injured. Israel’s response must be proportionate to the threat faced by its civilian population. Indeed, the goal of its actions must be to prevent even a single Israeli civilian death.

In addition to the Israel Supreme Court imposing constraints on its military, Israeli civilians and the Israeli media also serve as an important check. When, on occasion, Israeli military actions have caused a disproportionate number of civilian deaths, Israelis have become outraged at their military and demand a greater adherence to the principles of proportionality. This contrasts sharply with the population of Gaza, much of which applauds and celebrates every time an Israeli child is killed by a Hamas rocket. It is immoral in the extreme to compare Israel to Gaza or to compare the Israeli military to Hamas terrorists.

It would be better, of course, if a permanent ceasefire could be arranged under which Hamas would stop firing rockets at civilians and Israel would no longer need to target Hamas terrorists. Egypt could play a more positive role by trying to bring about a ceasefire instead of unilaterally condemning the victims of war crimes, as it has done.

But until Hamas stops terrorizing more than a million Israeli civilians, the Israeli military will have no choice other than to use its technological advantage to prevent and deter Hamas terrorism. It is the obligation of every sovereign state, first and foremost, to protect its civilian population from terrorist attacks. Israel’s decision to use targeted assassination against Hamas combatants is preferable to other military options, such as a massive ground attack that inevitably will cause more collateral damage.

But if Hamas’s rocket attacks persist, Israel may have little choice but to invade the Gaza and take more extensive steps to protect its civilian population. It’s up to Hamas, which is entirely to blame for the current situation, as it was when Israel was forced to invade back in 2008. The international community and the media must begin to differentiate between war crimes committed by terrorists and legitimate acts of self-defense engaged in by a responsible military. Failing to emphasize that distinction encourages terrorism and erodes the moral basis of the important principle of just warfare.

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