War crimes? Or “part of a new strategic ballgame in the Arab-Israel arena”?


by James M. Wall

With the invasion of Gaza ending its third week, the Palestinian Ministry of Health reported Friday, January 16, that the Palestinian death toll is now 1115, of whom 370 are children and 85 are women.

The number of injured is at least 5,015, of whom 1,745 are children and 740 are women. An estimated 400-500 are critically injured. 

Mindful of these mounting death and injury figures, the International Federation for Human Rights, has urged the UN Security Council to refer Israel to the International Criminal Court for possible war crime charges in Gaza. 

Nine Israeli human rights groups called on Wednesday for an investigation into whether Israeli officials had committed war crimes in Gaza since tens of thousands of civilians there have nowhere to flee, the health system has collapsed, many are without electricity and running water, and some are beyond the reach of rescue teams. . . .(New York Times).

The London Guardian writes that the UN general assembly, which is meeting this week to discuss the issue, will consider requesting an advisory opinion from the international court of justice.

The British Broadcasting service reported Tuesday that an Israeli air strike has totally destroyed a Gaza clinic which served pregnant women, mothers and babies. The clinic, run by the Near East Council of Churches, was struck by a missile after a 15-minute warning was sent to the building’s owners. The attack came on Saturday, January 10.

Funding for the clinic and its [medical equipment valued in the “hundreds of thousands dollars] came, in part, from the European Union and churches in the United States, including the United Methodist Church Committee on Relief (UMCR) which works with Action by Churches Together and Muslim Aid to provide humanitarian assistance in Gaza. . .destroyed-clinic

Five days earlier, three clearly-marked mobile health clinics – supported by DanChurchAid, another ACT partner – also were destroyed in an Israeli air strike. The United Methodist Church news agency reported:

David Wildman, a Board of Global Ministries executive, [was informed by] the Department of Services to Palestinian Refugees, an independent organization affiliated with the Middle East Council of Churches, that Israeli missiles have hit the clinic in Al-Shuja’ia, destroying the facility and all its contents. . . . 

“Minutes before the missile hit the building which hosts the clinic, the Israeli Air Force fired a warning missile next to it, forcing all residents of the building and the adjacent buildings to flee the area,” Zack Sabella of the Department of Services to Palestinian Refugees reported. “A short while after, the army directly hit the building and razed it completely.”

It is believed the Israelis may have been targeting the owner of the three-story building, who was residing on its upper floors. The clinic was one of three in the Gaza strip, said Wildman, who last met personally with staff at the Department of Services for Palestinian Refugees in February 2008. “The United Methodist Church has supported the DSPR . . . for decades,” he added.

Ha’aretz reports on its interview with one European ambassador stationed in Tel Aviv. 

The straw that broke the camel’s back for that ambassador was the Red Cross report from Gaza that small children had been found wounded, near the corpses of their mothers, under the ruins of their homes, and other reports of civilians on the verge of dying in places ambulances could not reach because of the fighting.

“The international organizations in Gaza are talking about 200 dead children,” he said. “I don’t know how to explain these things to myself, never mind to my government,” added the ambassador. “Your action is brutal and you don’t realize how much damage this is causing you in the world. This is not only short term. It’s damaged for years. Is this the Israel you want to be?” 

A new strategic ballgame?

Meanwhile, far away from Gaza, on Wednesday morning the New York Times gave its readers a twin dose of Tom Friedman and Jonathan Goldberg, each singing the praises of Israel’s invasion of Gaza in their faux “we are liberals” style. 

Glenn Greenwald was appalled by the Times Friedman-Goldman tag team:

Tom Friedman, one of the nation’s leading propagandists for the Iraq War and a vigorous supporter of all of Israel’s wars, has a column today in The New York Times explaining and praising the Israeli attack on Gaza.

For the sake of robust and diverse debate (for which our Liberal Media is so well known), Friedman’s column today appears alongside an Op-Ed from The Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg, one of the nation’s leading (and most deceitful) propagandists for the Iraq War and a vigorous supporter of all of Israel’s wars, who explains that Hamas is incorrigibly hateful and radical and cannot be negotiated with. 

One can hardly imagine a more compelling exhibit demonstrating the complete lack of accountability in the “journalism” profession — at least for those who are loyal establishment spokespeople who reflexively cheer on wars — than a leading Op-Ed page presenting these two war advocates, of all people, as experts, of all things, on the joys and glories of the latest Middle East war.

Tony Karon, a Jewish journalist from South Africa, now with Time magazine and the author of his own blog, Rootless Cosmopolitian, exposes Michael Oren the Historian, as a flack for Israel’s march through Gaza.  

An unremarkable op ed in the LA Times that trots out Israel’s boilerplate arguments that bombing the crap out of Gaza is actually an attack on Iran, was penned by Yossi Klein Halevy and Michael Oren. What is remarkable, though, is that Oren, AIPAC’s favorite historian, is listed simply as “a distinguished fellow at the Shalem Center and a professor at the foreign service school of Georgetown University.”

What they forgot to note, of course, is that Oren is currently in Gaza, in the uniform of the Israeli Defense Force, in which he is a reserve officer whose current duty is as a media officer working to shape perceptions of the Gaza operation. I’d have thought that should have been made clear.

Foreign journalists are not allowed to enter Gaza. They must sit on the border and relay to the world what Michael Oren, a professor at the foreign service school of Georgetown University and an officer in the Israeli Defense Force, tells them. 

Back in the US, with the Times‘ tag team of Friedman and Goldberg giving their “liberal” version of Oren the Historian’s reading of the Gaza war, a different perspective is available from the “news” commentary of Jon Stewart.

In case  you missed Stewart’s critique of American politicians and their tortured analogies of Mexico and Canada throwing rockets across our borders, his January 5 clip is not to be missed.

Update:  Additional diplomatic responses to Israel’s invasion in Mondoweiss:

As reported in Ha’aretz the world’s diplomatic corps is beginning to turn on Israel after over two weeks of attacking Gaza.  Today, President Evo Morales announced that Bolivia is breaking relations with Israel. He wants the International Criminal Court to bring genocide charges against top Israeli officials.

Also today, the EU said that the ongoing negotiations with Israel to boost their political and trade ties will be put on a “time out.”  

For more from Mondoweiss, click here.


About wallwritings

From 1972 through 1999, James M. Wall was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, lllinois. He was a Contributing Editor of the Century from 1999 until July, 2017. He has written this blog, wall writings.me, since it was launched April 27, 2008. If you would like to receive Wall Writings alerts when new postings are added to this site, send a note, saying, Please Add Me, to jameswall8@gmail.com Biography: Journalism was Jim's undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. He is an ordained United Methodist clergy person. He served for two years in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF reserve. While serving on active duty with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years. James M Wall died March 22, 2021 at age 92. His family appreciates all of his readers, even those who may have disagreed with his well-informed writings.
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1 Response to War crimes? Or “part of a new strategic ballgame in the Arab-Israel arena”?

  1. Harris Fawell says:

    Jim: 293 children killed in the new war in Gaza! That’s quite a price for Israel’s vengeance for vengeance in the Arab-Israel arena. I am reminded of the old saying that one who practices vengeance must dig two graves, one for himself and one for his enemy. Surely, Israel can do better than that. What a shame. Harris

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