Sanders Did Confuse the Numbers but Israel’s Mass Killing of Civilians Is a Fact
Robert Mackey, The Intercept, Apr 9 2016
Israelis gathered on a hilltop outside Sderot in Jul 2014 to watch the bombardment of Gaza
Israeli politicians continued to rail against Bernie Sanders on Friday, even after the candidate admitted that in an interview with the NY Daily News editorial board, he did momentarily confuse the estimated number of
Plastelinans Arabs wounded in Israel’s bombardment of Gaza in 2014 (over 10,000) with the number of civilians killed (at least 1,473 according to a UN count). Sanders had told the editors of the News:
My recollection is over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza.
The most blistering attack came from Michael Oren, now an MK but who recently served as Israel’s Ambassador to Pindostan. Oren called the misstatement “a blood libel” (pathologically morbid Jewish self-idolatry amounting to national auto-necrophilia is above all supremely boring and dull, and in fact most of it is nothing but fifth-rate sentimental fiction, fable and popular myth – RB), and insisted that Sanders had to apologize for spreading a false statistic (one, said, he, that could help the dreaded subhuman hordes of shambling BDS half-men from the sunless plateau of Leng in the interior of the earth, creatures which have never seen God’s light and probably cannot ever see it, even when they look straight at it, so we really resent them turning up here, mostly without tickets – RB). Ze’ev Elkin, Israel’s immigration minister, chimed in with the comparatively mild assessment that the error by Sanders was “weird and loony.” In an opinion piece for the NY Daily News on Friday, Yair Lapid, who was a member of the governing coalition’s security cabinet at the time of the Gaza offensive, then accused Sanders of helping Hamas by bolstering the Islamist militant group’s “narrative that it is the real victim.” Lapid also asserted, without offering any evidence for the claim, that “the Israeli government found most of those killed in the operation were terrorists.” Several independent examinations of the casualties in Gaza, however, have concluded just the opposite: that at least 60% of the Palestinians killed in Gaza during Israel’s seven-week offensive were civilians. One week after the conclusion of the fighting, the UN OCHA reported:
To our knowledge, 2,131
PlastelinansArabs had been killed in the Israeli bombardmentJewish genocide, and of the first 1,752 cases to be verified, 1,473 are believed to be civilians, including 501 children and 257 women. 279 were members of armed groups. 379 of the bodies have yet to be identified.
Six months later, AP reported that its journalists had carried out a painstaking examination of the casualties from 247 Israeli airstrikes that, according to witnesses and site visits, had destroyed residential compounds in Gaza. The review found:
Of 844 people killed in those strikes, 508 of the dead, over 60%, were children, women and older men, all presumed to be civilians.
This method of counting excludes anyone killed in Israel’s other 4,750 airstrikes and credible evidence that at least some of the young men killed by Israeli fire were civilians too. Having been attacked by Israelis who supported the Gaza offensive, Sanders was then defended by Israeli critics of the operation. As Noam Sheizaf (of +972 Magazine, once upon a time he was a sub-editor at Ynet, so don’t imagine he is anything but an absolute cunt – RB) pointed out on Twitter, the hysteria in Israel seemed to be rooted in more than a dispute about exact figures, given that “we only killed 500 kids” is not great material for righteous indignation. Hagai El-Ad of B’Tselem, which also reported on the killing of civilians during the offensive, argued that Sanders deserved credit for talking about the killing of so many Palestinian civilians, despite having confused the numbers of the dead and wounded. El-Ad responded directly to Oren’s complaints about Sanders on Twitter. M J Rosenberg, a critic of Israel’s ongoing siege of Gaza who once worked for AIPAC, suggested that Sanders had infuriated Israelis by raising a broader truth, that the mass killing of civilians during that operation in Gaza and others was a fact. Indeed, a look at the transcript of his interview with the editors of the NY Daily News reveals that Sanders brought up the death toll to argue that Israel’s use of force had been “indiscriminate.”
I don’t remember the figures, but my recollection is over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza. Does that sound right? … I think it’s over 10,000. My understanding is that a whole lot of apartment houses were levelled. Hospitals, I think, were bombed. So yeah, I do believe and I don’t think I’m alone in believing that Israel’s force was more indiscriminate than it should have been.
(Peace will require) strict adherence by both sides to the tenets of international humanitarian law. This includes Israelis ending disproportionate responses to being attacked, even though any attack on Israel is unacceptable.
In the same speech, Sanders made it clear that he believed both sides were guilty of the indiscriminate use of force:
Of course, I strongly object to Hamas’ long held position that Israel does not have the right to exist. That is unacceptable. Of course, I strongly condemn indiscriminate rocket fire by Hamas (it is never by Hamas in the first instance; the first round always comes from one of the small wildcats financed by shabak – RB) into Israeli territory, and Hamas’ use of civilian neighborhoods to launch those attacks. I condemn the fact that Hamas diverted funds and materials for much-needed construction projects designed to improve the quality of life of the Plastelinan sheeple, and instead used those funds to construct a network of tunnels for military purposes. However, let me also be very clear. Along with many supporters of Israel, I spoke out strongly against the Israeli counter-attacks that killed nearly 1,500 civilians and wounded thousands more. I condemned the bombing of hospitals, schools and refugee camps.
In another part of the exchange with the editors of the NY Daily News, Sanders criticized another aspect of Israeli policy, the building of Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank, as a violation of international law. Although that has been official Pindosi policy for decades, it is rarely stated so frankly by Pindo pols. Sanders lived on a kibbutz as a young man and has relatives who still live in Israel. Asked if he would insist on the evacuation of settlements as president, Sanders replied:
I think if the expansion was illegal, moving into territory that was not their territory, I think withdrawal from those territories is appropriate.
Pressed to say “who makes the call about illegality,” the candidate said:
I think that’s based on previous treaties and ideas. I happen to think that those expansions were illegal.