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Conflict in Gaza 2014

Colin Parkinson

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My mind continues to boggle at the moral gymnastics people go through to justify their hate of Israel and any action by the West. It's common to compare tea party to ISIS/AQ. I love listening to people justify how they aren't living on "stolen land" here in BC and demand Israel to do what they will not.
 

Edward Campbell

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There's an interesting, thought provoking (but too long to post) piece by Prof Assaf Sharon in the New York Review of Books in which he suggests that "The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has long ago become a shouting match over moral superiority ... [but] ... An agreement can be reached with the Palestinians, too: the terms are known and the price is fixed. Whether it is reached or not is a matter of political will on the part of Israeli and Palestinian leaders ... [and] ... The war in Gaza is, fundamentally, not about tunnels and not against rockets. It is a war over the status quo. Netanyahu’s “conflict management” is a euphemism for maintaining a status quo of settlement and occupation, allowing no progress ... [but, again] ... So long as Hamas is willing to use terror against innocent Israeli civilians and so long as it refuses to recognize the State of Israel, it will not be a “partner” for peace."

 

Colin Parkinson

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A significant number of Palestinians and their supporters believe they can "win" against Israel. As long as they have control nothing is going to change as they will strive for the conditions to allow that win. The reality of this war from day 1 way back 1948 is that 2 people wanted the same house and can't live in peace together. So one side has to win and the other loses. In reality the Pals lost completely in 1973 but they were not allowed to accept that loss and were not allowed to find a permanent home elsewhere, with citizenship, except in a few Muslim countries. The land deals and withdrawals feed the hope of the "win side". But there is little the Israelis can offer now and nor should they offer anything else. The reality is that Egypt should give up some of it's territory to make Gaza workable, but that's not what the Arabs want, Gaza as a open sore is far to useful and notice how quiet Arabs are about Kurdish independence.
 

CougarKing

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A generous offer refused by Palestinian leader Abbas.

Palestinians Offered State Five Times The Size Of Palestine By Egyptian President, Abbas Rejects

International Business Times

Egyptian President General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has offered Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas the chance to create a Palestinian state in the Sinai Peninsula, according to local Israeli media. The offer to the Palestinian President which, reports say Abbas has denied, would have seen 1,600 square kilometres of the Sinai Peninsula given to the Palestinian Authority, creating a Palestinian state five times the size of Gaza.

According to IDF Radio, the offer would see Abbas relinquish demands that Israel return to the 1967 borders. In the new and enlarged Gaza, the territory would be demilitarised and Palestinian refugees, many who were unable to return to their towns after the creation of Israel, would have been able to settle there. As part of the proposal, Palestinian cities in the occupied West Bank would have been autonomous and continued to be under Palestinian Authority control.

(...EDITED)
 

Colin Parkinson

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Surprised I am not, even if Abbas wanted to take the deal, it would be suicide for him to go against the current narrative.
 

CougarKing

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CAS in the spotlight again:

Defense News

Gaza War Leaned Heavily On F-16 Close-Air Support
Sep. 15, 2014 - 10:56AM  |  By BARBARA OPALL-ROME

TEL AVIV — Hundreds of the more than 6,000 targets struck from the air during Israel’s 50-day urban war in Gaza were from fighter jets delivering one-ton bombs in record time and in close proximity to friendly ground forces.

After-action accounts of Operation Protective Edge show unprecedented use of fixed-wing fighters for close air support (CAS) of urban maneuvering troops.

With an F-16 dedicated to every brigade, precision air power provided “pillar of fire” protection for friendly forces fighting less than 350 meters away.

(...EDITED)
 

Edward Campbell

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The Economist reports on the fallout from the Gaza campaign in this article which is reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act from that newspaper:

http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21620569-hamas-being-force-make-political-concessions-ensure-reconstruction-after-its-war
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Palestine after the war
Diplomatic defeat after victory
Hamas is being forced to make political concessions to ensure reconstruction after its war with Israel

Sep 26th 2014 | JERUSALEM

WHEN the guns in and around Gaza fell silent a month ago, Hamas, the radical Palestinian Islamist movement that runs the enclave, boasted of having won its 50-day war with Israel. But now, after the victory marches, Hamas is being forced to stage a tactical retreat, if not yet a surrender, in the bargaining to decide the future of the devastated territory.

Meeting in Egypt’s intelligence headquarters in Cairo on September 25th, Hamas’s leaders bowed to the terms set by the Palestinian Authority (PA), which runs the West Bank, and by Egypt to begin rebuilding the Gaza Strip.

Hamas agreed to transfer control of Gaza’s border crossings, the government machinery and the responsibility for reconstruction to the PA leader, President Mahmoud Abbas, and 3,000 personnel of his presidential guard. The agreement also provided for the withdrawal of Hamas forces from a 5-kilometre buffer along the border with Egypt, say Palestinian officials. Within a fortnight, they say a committee will start vetting Hamas’s bureaucrats, and within three months, Egyptian officers will start work on sifting through Hamas’s security forces to create a single armed force under Mr Abbas’s command.

All this goes far beyond the reconciliation deal on sharing power that the rival Palestinian groups jubilantly announced in April 2014. Since then the war with Israel (partly caused by Israel's rejection of the unity deal) gave Hamas a popular boost. Left on the sidelines of the conflict, Mr Abbas looked ineffectual to many Palestinians: unable to deliver peace through negotiations with Israel, yet unwilling to fight the occupier. Now that the fighting has stopped, Mr Abbas seems determined to reassert his influence. Indeed he wants to turn back the clock not just by weeks but by years as he seeks to restore his control of the Gaza territory he lost in a four-day armed clash with Hamas in 2007.

At a meeting with businessmen from Gaza earlier this week in his West Bank seat of Ramallah, Mr Abbas said his officials would not return to Gaza until Hamas abandoned its “shadow” government. Never again would they humiliate his ministers, as happened when they greeted his health minister during the Gaza war with tomatoes and shoes. If Hamas leaders balked, one participant quoted him as saying, they could forget reconstruction; just let them wait for the winter rains when the 100,000 Palestinians left homeless by their war would turn against Hamas rulers.

Hamas cadres, already angered at sacrificing hundreds of men and relatives in a war which ended with the siege still in place, flinch at Mr Abbas’s terms, and question whether they can be implemented. Mr Abbas’s agreement to advance partial wages for up to 25,000 civil servants, but for none of Hamas’s 15,000 security and intelligence personnel, only fuelled their resentment.

Hamas newspapers played down the agreement, speaking only in generalities; their preachers sidestepped it in their Friday sermons, as did the website of its military wing, the Ezz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Hamas’ leaders say that an explosion may well happen if there is no reconstruction, but claim it would be directed against Israel rather than them. In possible preparation for another round of fighting, militiamen were seen pinning notices outside mosques offering training for a “popular army”.

Along with their military positions, some cadres complain, Hamas is also sacrificing principles, including the refusal formally to recognise Israel. The agreement, said negotiators, amount to a Hamas commitment to a Palestinian state alongside Israel along the 1967 border that predated Israel’s conquest of Gaza and the West Bank. What prercisely this means is yet to be established. Hamas claims all of Israel and the Palestinian territories, but has in the past said a state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip would be possible in return for a long-term ceasefire, not a permanent peace agreement that recognises the legitimacy of the Jewish state. More importantly, perhaps, Hamas’s lead negotiator in Cairo, Musa Abu Marzouq, also suggested that Hamas consider direct negotiations with Israel, in place of the current indirect ones.

For now, Hamas has few good options. Much of its financial and military strength is spent. Qatar is the most recent of its patrons to cut back support, and Egypt has turned hostile since a military coup last year ousted the elected president, Muhammad Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas's parent organisation. Egypt’s decision to plug smuggling tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border, and the loss revenues from taxes on the imports, have further weakened Hamas. Israel’s bombardment cost it much of its arsenal and manpower.

The war may have revived its popularity and political capital, but to keep its support Hamas will have to deliver on its promise to rebuild Gaza. Without serious steps towards handing over power to Mr Abbas ahead of an international aid conference in Cairo on October 12th, it fears donors will withhold the promised reconstruction.

Hamas officials still try to put on a brave face. In contrast with Egypt, their movement has not been banned or jailed, and Hamas remains overwhelmingly Gaza’s most potent force. Though Egypt insists that Hamas remove its forces far from the border before reopening its border crossing at Rafah, Hamas cadres say in practice their fighters can melt easily among the population, ensuring that the PA formal presence will be little more than symbolic. In the longer term, some argue, whatever reconstruction Mr Abbas brings to Gaza today will be Hamas’s tomorrow, come the day when they regain full power by the ballot or the bullet.

The war with Israel led to the destruction or severe damage of 18,000 homes, 148 schools and over half of Gaza’s 32 hospitals, says the UN. But Egypt and Israel continue to keep their borders firmly shut for reconstruction materials and travel for the bulk of Gaza’s 1.8 million people. Even the pre-war infrastructure projects that Qatar had funded, at a cost of $400m, have ground to a halt for want of materials. And though engineers have managed to repair the power plant which Israel bombed in the war, disagreements between Hamas and Mr Abbas over who should pay for the fuel continue to leave Palestinians without electricity for all but six hours a day.


Donor states, which includes Canada, need to remember that Hamas is a terrorist entity and the aid, which Gaza does need, will, in at least some part, end up funding terrorism. It's a difficult problem: do we withhold aid from people who are suffering just because Hamas is Hamas?
 

Edward Campbell

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And, from Israel's point of view, its technological prowess (it really is a global science and technology powerhouse) is not translating into broader support for its foreign policy according to this article which is reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act from Foreign Affairs:

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/142112/rory-miller/stock-in-trade
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Stock in Trade
Israel Tries to Convert Commercial Appeal into Diplomatic Capital

By Rory Miller

SEPTEMBER 25, 2014

For a country the size of New Jersey with a population smaller than Virginia’s, Israel has achieved spectacular progress in a once unlikely economic sector: science and technology. From a small cluster of industries once focused primarily on the military, this sector has blossomed into a vibrant international hub that shapes the country’s foreign partnerships.

Today, Israel’s homegrown Israeli IT companies rank among the fastest growing and most innovative in the world, and its high-tech weapons industry is among the top five gobal producers and exporters. The country is a leading destination for venture capitalists and private investors, among them Warren Buffett, who chose an Israeli firm for his first major overseas acquisition in 2006. Cisco Systems, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, and Nortel have all launched local state-of-the-art research and development centers. As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put it this past February, foreign business leaders “all want the same three things: Israeli technology, Israeli technology, and Israeli technology.”

These gains led many Israel’s policymakers to expect that its new commercial ties would influence diplomacy and help secure greater international support for some of the country’s contentious domestic policies. As just one example, Israel’s economics minister Naftali Bennett argued last year that “diplomacy can follow economy.” Trade, he said, would help Israel “deemphasize” the world’s preoccupation with the Palestinian issue.

But Israel’s high-tech dominance has also underscored the limits of using trade as a foreign policy tool. Israel has indeed been able to attract major new trade partners -- China and India -- and strengthen its foothold in some of the world’s fastest-growing markets. But the country’s expanding trade ties thus far haven’t won it greater international support for its policies toward Gaza and the West Bank and its priorities in the Middle East more generally. Israeli officials should recognize that the country’s economic successes can only marginally alter its tenuous diplomatic status quo.

A PIVOT TO ASIA

Thanks to Israel’s booming science and technology industries, it now enjoys thriving bilateral relations with China and India. Each country played only a small role in Israel’s economy as recently as two decades ago. But since then, the number of Israeli joint ventures with the countries' high-tech industries -- from industrial R&D and software development to telecommunications and nanotechnology -- has skyrocketed. The Netanyahu government has made it a priority to further expand these ties, and its efforts have met with a welcoming response.

Take India. The country has increasingly come to rely on Israeli technology to spur economic development. Working closely with Israeli experts, several Indian regional governments have adopted Israeli innovations in drip irrigation that have significantly improved farmers’ lives. Standing beside Netanyahu during a 2012 visit to Jerusalem, India’s then Foreign Minister Shri S. M. Krishna praised Israel as a natural ally in “seizing the future,” adding: “We have learned so much from Israel, particularly in the field of agriculture and science and technology innovation.”

In 2013, Israel’s total volume of trade with India reached $6 billion, and it’s likely to increase even further during Narendra Modi’s tenure as prime minister. Modi had been promoting deeper ties with Israel long before his election to the national office. He relied on Israeli expertise as governor of Gujarat in 2001–14, when he created a local high-tech hub and awarded several key tenders to Israeli firms. In 2006, he visited Israel himself to learn firsthand about its start-up strategy. By the time of his election, observers called him “Israel’s best friend in South Asia.”

In the defense industry, too, Israel is now widely viewed as India’s second most important partner after Russia. The two countries cooperate closely in counterterrorism and intelligence sharing and have numerous cooperation and co-production agreements.

These developments echo Israel’s evolving relationship with its other new large trading partner, China. The two countries’ bilateral trade stood at $8 billion in 2013, and Chinese policymakers and investors are likewise attracted to the promise of Israeli innovation. Israel’s high-tech exports to China have risen by 170 percent since 2008, leading Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to praise a “significant complementarity” of the two counties during this year’s meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

This collaboration is already leaving a mark across China. Israeli water treatment specialists have recently helped build China’s first desalination plant in Tianjin, its largest northern city. In the west, Chinese officials are adopting Israeli irrigation technology in agricultural projects. And in the south, a newly opened Chinese-Israeli industrial park will focus on water management and treatment.

China’s innovators and officials involved in their country’s own high-tech boom have come to admire Israel for its entrepreneurship and start-up spirit. During a visit to Israel this past May, Yongjie Chen, a member of the Communist Party’s ruling body, gushed that Israel was “the best place in the world for China to invest. ... You have to come to Israel to understand what the term ‘start-up nation’ really means.” No surprise, then, that Start-up Nation, the recent best-selling book on Israel’s knowledge economy, has been translated into Chinese and has been recommended to government officials in Jiangsu Province by a local Communist Party head.

Defense cooperation has been slower to take off because of Washington’s objections to the sale of sensitive technologies to Beijing. But even here, Israel and China are drawing closer. The year 2012 marked two symbolic developments: the appointment of Matan Vilnai, a former top general, as Israel’s ambassador to China; and a goodwill visit of the Chinese navy’s 11th escort fleet to the Israeli port of Haifa.

COMPETING BUSINESS

Yet even as Israel’s economic relations with China and India thrive, their convergence in other areas has been much less extensive. On two sore points in particular, trade has done little to win China and India to Israel’s side.

First, both China and India have long been stalwart supporters of the Palestinian cause. India became the first non-Arab state to recognize the legitimacy of the Palestine Liberation Organization and invited it to open a New Delhi office in 1975. For its part, China has hosted a PLO embassy in Beijing since 1974 and officially calls itself “one of the first countries" to support "the State of Palestine.”

Even as their civilian and trade ties with Israel expanded over the past decade, China and India have continued to apply steady pressure on Israel over this issue. They called on the Israeli government to dismantle the separation wall and to cease building settlements; condemned its handling of the Gaza flotilla crisis; opposed the Gaza blockade; and supported the Palestinian bid for observer status at the UN. Most recently, they endorsed the Fatah-Hamas unity government sworn in this past June (which Israel refused to recognize) and voted in favor of launching a UN inquiry into the violations of international law in Gaza during the most recent bombing campaign.

Second, both China and India maintain flourishing relations with some of Israel’s staunchest adversaries in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East. The two countries’ trade ties with energy exporters such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia far outweigh those with Israel in terms of volume, value, and strategic importance. China sources much of its crude-oil exports from Saudi Arabia and, with bilateral trade valued at $73 billion in 2012–13, is the kingdom’s second-largest trading partner after the United States. India, with bilateral trade valued at $43 billion in that same time period, comes in fourth.

Both China and India have been pushing for even deeper collaboration with the Arab countries. For instance, in 2010, Beijing upgraded existing ties with the Arab world to the level of a strategic relationship. Both Beijing and New Delhi have pursued a deeper involvement in political and security issues of concern to the Arab governments, signing cooperation agreements in the areas of law enforcement, energy security, and defense cooperation. 

Some observers have pointed to signs that China and India might be inching closer to Israel on both of these counts. Both governments were more muted in their criticism of the recent conflict with Hamas, for example, than they had been during the Gaza war in 2008. In August, India’s city of Kolkata even hosted a 20,000-strong rally in support of Israel. And in China, one senior official attributed the government’s “much more positive political policy towards Israel” to the growing technology cooperation. Such optimism, however, is premature. Instead, signs point to both Beijing and New Delhi maintaining the status quo on all counts.

Indeed, rather than take sides, China and India have increasingly sought to find a middle path. Over the past decade, they have depoliticized their approach to trade and investment in the region and pursued simultaneous bilateral cooperation with many longtime rivals. As Sushma Swaraj, India’s external affairs minister, recently told a group of Arab League delegates, there was no contradiction in “extending strong support to the Palestinian cause, while maintaining good relations with Israel.”

Given these calculations, neither country is likely to line up behind Israel’s position on its conflicts with the Palestinians anytime soon. That’s the bad news for Israel. The good news is that as long as high-tech ties are going from strength to strength, it hardly matters; the economic and political relations will just proceed on separate tracks, as they’ve done till now.

MARRIAGE OF CONVENIENCE

A good case study of how Israel’s ties with China and India could develop further is its relationship with another major trade partner, the EU. In those relations, too, trade links and technology-fueled cooperation have developed alongside political disagreement -- and often in spite of it.

As with China and India, Israel’s trade ties with Europe grew from a low starting point, spurred by the country’s technological progress. Just as it aims to reach the growing Chinese and Indian markets today, Israel in the 1950s and 1960s made it a priority to capture some of Europe’s vast trade potential, becoming the first non-European state to open an embassy in Brussels. In turn, the European countries concluded a series of far-reaching trade agreements with Israel over the years. Echoing the words of top Indian and Chinese officials, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso explained that “a continent such as Europe, that invests heavily in innovation, needs to have close links with a ‘start-up nation,’ like Israel.”

Nevertheless, even as this convergence took place, Europe grew increasingly vocal in supporting Palestinian rights. In 1996, the EU took the unprecedented step of declaring the Oslo peace process a fundamental interest of the European Community. It then backed up this resolution with cash to help build Palestinian state institutions in anticipation of a peace deal. When Oslo collapsed, many European officials put the blame on Israel.

Yet none of this tension was reflected in the sphere of high-tech trade. Rather, trade ties had the effect of reinforcing the status quo and muting the criticism. Even when European opposition to Israel’s policies reached its peak, no European leaders were willing to act in a way that would jeopardize commercial ties. Calls for boycotting or sanctioning Israel have found only negligible support at the highest policymaking levels.

In 2000, for example, even as the Oslo peace process was disintegrating, the EU invited Israel to take part in the COST (Cooperation in Science and Technology) research program, which coordinates nationally funded research among the European countries. In 2002, months after a diplomatic clash following the Israeli attack on the Palestinian town of Jenin that killed scores of civilians, Israel joined the EU’s framework program on scientific and technical cooperation. On a bilateral level, the same pattern played out. In 2004, French and Israeli scientists built new partnerships in neuroscience research, even as relations between the two countries imploded over French opposition to Israel’s response to the second intifada.

This dichotomy persists to this day. Just before the most recent crisis in Gaza began, Israel became the only non-EU member of Horizon 2020, Europe’s seven-year, $100 billion flagship research and development program. Indeed, as former EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana joked in 2009, Israel has come as close as possible to integrating with the EU without actually becoming a member state, thanks to its help “with all the problems of research and technology, which are very important.”

Similarly, China and India will likely continue to pursue closer relations with Israel regardless of how its conflict with the Palestinians evolves in the years ahead. As the two countries' economies continue to grow, they won’t allow political differences to hinder high-tech collaboration or deter new trade and defense ties. On the other hand, such ties, no matter how advanced, will only entrench the status quo -- and neither neutralize nor reduce the trading partners’ political differences. Only an equitable and viable solution to the conflict will achieve that.
 

Edward Campbell

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Further: the real issue war is being fought in the global media and the fighters aren't Hamas terrorists or IDF soldiers, they re PR professionals. This article, which is reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act from the New York Observer, a weekly paper that is, usually most concerned with cultural issues, illusrrates how the war is being waged:

http://observer.com/2014/09/the-muslim-brotherhoods-new-pr-agency-rejects-israel/
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APOCALYPSE NOW
Burson-Marsteller Rejects Israel as a Client; Accepts Muslim Brotherhood
PR Giant Signs Tunisia Branch of Muslim Brotherhood But Thumbs Nose at Israel's Shekels

By Ronn Torossian | 09/26/14

ED. NOTE: This story has been updated to add a statement from Burson-Marsteller.

In the public relations world, Burson-Marsteller is a giant—one of the largest and most successful communications companies. The WPP-owned conglomerate operates 67 wholly owned offices and 71 affiliate offices in 98 countries across six continents.

The top-notch firm became legendary for its masterful work during the Tylenol tampering case. They do not shy away from controversy. And they currently represent The Washington Redskins to rally support for the football team to keep its nickname, are engaged in an anti-Google smear campaign on behalf of Facebook, handled the Bhopal disaster in India in which over 2,000 people were killed, and represented Blackwater USA in 2007 after it was revealed that some of its employees were involved in the shooting deaths of 13 Iraqis in Baghdad.

Despite this appetite for controversy—and the juicy retainers that companies in trouble will pay—apparently even Burson-Marsteller has its limits. They refused to work with the democratic nation of Israel to help the tiny Jewish state improve its image. In turning down a potential $3.5 million engagement, Sigurd Grytten, Burson-Marsteller’s Managing Director said, “We will not deliver tender to such a project… we are running a commercial venture. If we accept this project, this will create a great amount of negative reactions … Israel is a particularly controversial project.” Representing Israel, apparently is worse than offending American Indians, anonymous smears, and shady defense contractors involved in extra-curricular killing.

Newly released documents reveal that Burson-Marsteller’s squeamishness about controversial Middle East clients is rather selective. Just released government filings reveal that the PR agency has been hired to improve the foreign image of Tunisia’s Ennahda Party, the Muslim Brotherhood of Tunisia. They will “arrange meetings between Ennahdha representatives and stakeholders” and provide Ennahda “support on media and stakeholder outreach in advance of upcoming elections.” In sum, this Washington, D.C. PR firm will not work with Israel – but will represent Tunisia’s Muslim Brotherhood Party.

As a Jerusalem Post editorial noted, “Ennahdha’s members have been implicated in both incitement and violent actions against Tunisian and foreign targets. The party supported the 1979 embassy takeover in Iran, and evidence suggests it was responsible for bombing four tourist hotels in the 1980s.” The leader of the organization, Rachid al-Ghannouchi, has predicted the end of the state of Israel, described Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 as “the first step in the complete victory of all of Palestine and the holy places of the Muslim,” and supported Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The man has called for the liberation of “Palestine from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean sea” and has openly threatened the United States, saying during a time of crisis, “there must be no doubt that we will strike anywhere against whoever strikes Iraq … We must wage unceasing war against the Americans until they leave the land of Islam, or we will burn and destroy all their interests across the entire Islamic world.”

Many in the PR industry have worked with Middle East interests that harm the West. For a $5,000 monthly retainer, Brown Lloyd James famously coordinated a Vogue magazine profile and photo shoot for Asma al-Assad, Syria’s first lady—now, they want it forgotten as the Assad region has slaughtered hundreds of thousands of her own citizens. This same agency, Brown Lloyd James, worked to boost the regime of Libyan dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi. Fenton Communications, a NY PR firm signed contracts with Qatar to delegitimize Israel. There are others.

One understands the need for Tunisia’s Muslim Brotherhood to have such a powerful lobbying and communications firm. What is troubling, however is that Burson-Marsteller deemed working to improve Israel’s image as too controversial, while determining that the Muslim Brotherhood’s money is kosher. Interesting times we live in.

UPDATE:

    Several hours after this piece was published, Burson-Marsteller Worldwide Vice President Jano Cabrera contacted the Observer to take issue with this article.

    In a telephone interview, he maintained that the firm does not have a policy in place that declines to represent Israel. After much back and forth, Mr. Cabrera was asked, “Yes or no, would you represent Israel?” He replied,
    “I’m not going to answer a hypothetical question.”

    A statement from Burson-Marsteller appears in full below.

          The opinion piece written by Ronn Torossian was not accurate. He creates the false impression that Burson-Marsteller currently has or has ever had a policy about whether or not to represent Israel.
          He writes as if he recently contacted a member of the firm and received confirmation about such a policy.

          Here are the facts. This firm has no policy about whether or not to represent Israel. The statement Torossian refers to was not made recently but in 2011. Further, the employee he refers to no longer
          works at Burson-Marsteller and has not worked at the firm since 2012. He was never a member of the firm’s global leadership. His sole role was to head our office in Norway. That employee, in fact,
          was responding to a hypothetical question from a journalist in 2011 about representing Israel in Norway. He answered hypothetically on his own without consulting anyone in the leadership of the firm,
          and his answer does not reflect the policy of this firm. Again, unequivocally, Burson-Marsteller has no policy about whether or not to represent Israel.

          Burson-Marsteller works with the Ennahdha (Renaissance) Party. The party, which won the first democratic elections in Tunisia, helped to establish Tunisia’s constitution, which is widely regarded as one
          of the most progressive in the Arab world. For further understanding of the role the party has played in Tunisia’s democratic development, we refer you to an editorial from January 10, 2014 in
          The Washington Post entitled, ‘Tunisia’s democratic compromises should serve as a regional model.’

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, one of the 25 largest PR firms in America. He is a life-long New Yorker.
 

a_majoor

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Some information about the tunnels which has surfaced (heh) in the post war analysis:

http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htinf/articles/20141130.aspx

Infantry: Tag Team With The Tunnel Terrorists
   
November 30, 2014: The United States recently sent a team of officers and NCOs to Israel to study what Israel had discovered about the Hamas use of tunnels in combat. The U.S. and Israel have been sharing intel like this for decades. The Americans gathered a lot of data on Taliban and Iraqi use of tunnels since 2001. Apparently Hamas knew about a lot of that (Islamic terrorists share their tricks with each other) and came up with some new ideas, which the Israelis got very intimate with during the recent (July-August) “50 Day War” in Gaza. There Hamas used a lot of tunnels, some of them into Israel but most of them were all within Gaza, or to Egypt. What concerned the Israelis most were the new tunnels (some of them over a thousand meters long) into Israel. These were also deeper than the usual smuggling tunnel, so they were harder to find and the exit on the Israeli side was not completed until just before Hamas was to use the tunnel to bring large numbers of terrorists in to kill or kidnap Israelis.

The Gaza area is a desert, and if you dig down 6-20 meters, you'll find hard sand that can be excavated at the rate of 15 meters a day. The smuggling tunnels into Egypt have been used for decades. To build such a tunnel you need cooperation from building owners on both sides of the border. They expect to get paid, usually a flat fee to start work, then monthly "rent", or even a percentage of revenue from people and goods going through the tunnel.

The Egypt tunnels tend to be 500-600 meters long. So including digging down on each end, it's going to take you 5-6 weeks to complete your tunnel. If you have a few experienced (and highly paid) people working with you, the whole project will cost you $25,000 or more. That's a lot of money in Gaza. But the potential profits are enormous. Before the 50 day war moving a person through a tunnel costs several hundred dollars, or more. A sack full of goods, or a 20 liter can of fuel, costs several times its value to move through the tunnel. Since the 50 day war Egypt has destroyed nearly all the smuggling tunnels into its territory and has cleared buildings and people from a 500 meter wide “security zone” on their side of the Gaza border. Hamas is now more isolated than ever.

The downside of these tunnels is that most are just wide enough (about a meter, and a little less tall) for a man to crawl. The air is foul and the risk of collapse is constant. Few tunnels are built with bracing, to prevent, or mitigate a collapse. It is believed that hundreds of Palestinians are dead and buried under the border, as a result of collapsed tunnels. When the Israelis ran the place (until they left in 2005 as a peace gesture that backfired), they got pretty good at finding, and destroying, tunnels. The Egyptians, who now guard the border alone were nowhere near as good, and could be bribed. But even before the 50 day war a tunnel rarely lasted more than a few months, and someone usually died as it collapsed and went out of service. Thus the high fees for getting stuff through. The men who move goods through the tunnels are highly paid, but are poor insurance risks. Since the Egyptian borer is totally closed now, bribes are much less effective and there is more economic incentive than ever to build tunnels into Egypt. These will be extremely expensive because the Egyptians are also digging a 20 meter (62 foot) deep canal from the Mediterranean along the Gaza border. In addition to slowing down smugglers or infiltrators, this will make tunnel building more difficult and dangerous.

Over the years Hamas has learned how to dig tunnels that are virtually undetectable on the Israeli side. This means going deep enough to avoid detection by ground penetrating radar or acoustic sensors. This makes it more expensive and time consuming to build tunnels but Hamas has diverted much foreign aid (cash and building materials) to the tunnel effort. A lot of the concrete and other building materials allowed into Gaza went to building tunnels.

By 2014 Israel knew of the new, deeper and more complex Hamas tunnels into Israel but had found only four of them since 2012. In March Israeli troops found one that was 1,800 meters long and extended 300 meters into Israel. Hamas dismissed this find as a tunnel that had been abandoned because of a partial collapse. But the Israelis said the tunnel had been worked on recently and equipment, like generators, was found in it. The tunnel was lined with reinforcing concrete and was 9-20 meters (30-63 feet) underground. Three of these tunnels were near the town of Khan Younis and apparently part of a plan to kidnap Israelis for use in trades (for prisoner or whatever) with Israel.

Israeli intelligence knew Hamas leaders had been discussing a much larger tunnel program, involving dozens of tunnels and suspected that dozens of them were already built or nearing completion before the 50 day war. Most of the completed ones had no exits in Israel, yet. Available monitoring equipment was slow and often ineffective if there was no one actively working on the tunnel below or if there was no exit (yet) on the Israeli side. Another problem was that Hamas had, by trial and error, discovered the limitations or blind spots of Israeli tunnel detection gear and techniques. Since the 50 day war the Israelis have discovered what their detection weaknesses are.

The Hamas tunnels already built and “stockpiled” before July could only be detected inside Gaza, where their entrances were. These were also hidden, at least from aerial observation. Israeli intelligence had discovered possible tunnel entrances by detecting the Hamas activity around the suspected entrances (entering and leaving, removing dirt). Hamas tried to hide this activity and Israel knew this meant they probably succeeded in some cases. Thus before the Israeli troops went into Gaza recently, commanders had lots of information of where to look. By the end of July the Israelis had found 46 entrances to 14 tunnels. They also discovered that many of the tunnels had numerous branches inside Gaza and were meant to be used to move Hamas gunmen and suicide bombers around if the Israelis invaded. These Hamas men could then come to the surface behind Israeli troops and attack. This was one reason why there were so many Israeli casualties this time around (compared to the 2009 invasion).

Israeli combat engineers had been trained to destroy the tunnels, which was not easy because Hamas had booby-trapped some of them. Israel eventually found and destroyed 34 of these tunnels and stayed inside Gaza until they felt they has found all of them, and collected information on how they are built and how they can be detected from the ground or air. If Israel knows where a tunnel is, before they destroy it they can run some tests with their sensors and that knowledge will make it more difficult for Hamas to build new tunnels. The U.S. and Israel are both working on new and better ways to discover these tunnels.
 
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