American born Michael Oren, Israel's Ambassador to the U.S., became an everyday presence on American media. Speeches or interviews with Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, President Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and others, were broadcast regularly on American TV. And, as is commonly the case in American corporate media, few, if any, representatives for the Palestinians were given an equal platform.
Some more diligent interviewers, like MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell and CNN's Piers Morgan, questioned the surrogates about the wisdom of jeopardizing civilians by bombing highly concentrated residential areas. Well-schooled in their responses, the surrogates answered with Israel's customary refrain that it wasn't Israel jeopardizing the civilians, but Hamas, who purposely hid in residential neighborhoods to use civilians as human shields - a claim refuted by the 2009 United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, also known as the Goldstone Report, which stated:
The Mission, however, found no evidence of Palestinian armed groups placing civilians in areas where attacks were being launched; of engaging in combat in civilian dress; or of using a mosque for military purposes or to shield military activities.
Perhaps the most shrill and offensive of Israel's surrogates is American lawyer and Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, who in a November 19th appearance with CNN's Piers Morgan, repeated a claim he has made in the past. It's a claim Dershowitz has not categorically proved. It's a claim Dershowitz has no way of knowing from seeing first hand. And it appears to be a claim Dershowitz may have invented for the purpose of dehumanizing the Palestinian people. It's hideous in its label and its tone.
Here is part of Dershowitz' conversation with Piers Morgan regarding Operation Pillar of Defense and what he refers to as the Dead Baby Stategy:
Morgan: But they [Israelis] killed a whole family.
Dershowitz: Hamas was firing rockets in order to induce them to kill the family. You know what it's called in Gaza? It's called the Dead Baby Strategy. It's a strategy. They want - this sounds terribly brutal - but it's absolutely true. They want their children to be martyred so they can carry them out, show them to the international media and thereby gain an advantage over Israel. It's a double war crime and the media encourages it.
Dershowitz' seems to allege that in Gaza, Hamas, with the complicity of the families of Gazan babies, knowingly station the babies where the Israeli military will kill them. Dershowitz contends in his comment that some unnamed [it's called] entity in Gaza calls this plan the Dead Baby Strategy. Dershowitz presents Dead Baby Strategy as a known label, but he never identifies exactly who in Gaza uses this label.
Interesting that two years ago, on November 5, 2010, Dershowitz appeared as a panelist in Israel at the annual John Gandel Symposium. There he also talked about the Dead Baby Strategy, but he described the genesis of its label somewhat differently. He said at 15:46 minutes into the panel:
And then you have military deligitimation. It is such a clever - if it weren't such a horrible technique - such a clever technique. Again, I have a name for it. I call it Hamas' and Hesbollah's Dead Baby Strategy.
In this case, Dershowitz proclaims that he named the Dead Baby Strategy. Are we then to believe Hamas liked Dershowitz' label and strategy so much that they somehow appropriated it and began using it in Gaza? Or that the IDF said, 'Hey, let's use Alan's label and say Hamas uses the Dead Baby Strategy so we can kill their kids.' Likely not.
What it does appear we should believe is that the term Dead Baby Strategy is an invention of Mr. Dershowitz, used to promote a heinous accusation against Palestinians. Here's the rest of Mr. Dershowitz' description of his so-called Strategy. Do note his mention of the Goldstone Report, which (as shown above) refutes Dershowitz' contention that Hamas purposely endangers civilians through the placement of its rockets.
It sounds cruel but it's very very simple. The media, the most powerful image in the media is a mother holding a dead baby - whether it be Jesus being held by Mary after the Crucifixion, whether it be Guernica, Picasso's painting where you have mothers holding dead children. And what Hamas and Hesbollah know is that then when they fire enough rockets at Israeli children, at school buses. When they aim the rockets from 7:00 to 8:00 in the morning when school buses are on the way. When they hit schools, fortunately the principals had the foresight to release the students, they know eventually any democracy, any democracy will have to respond. And how do you respond? You try to get the rocket firing. Where do they put the rockets? You wouldn't know it if you read the Goldstone Report, but right in the middle of civilian populations and the goal is to induce Israel to kill as many Palestinian babies as possible. That's the goal. The object is to have the Al Jazeera and the camera there to photograph the dead baby.
Those Who Have Been There
I've never been to Gaza but I've known many Americans who have visited there and even some who have lived there. I asked some of them if they had ever heard of Dershowitz' Dead Baby Strategy or if they had ever witnessed Gazans doing anything that would purposely endanger their children.
Freelance journalist Kristen Ess Schurr, who lived in Gaza from 2002 to 2006, and traveled frequently between Gaza and the West Bank during Israel's physical occupation of Gaza, had never heard of the Strategy. She said:
I lived in Gaza and worked there. Strikes were part of daily life during the occupation. I was there during many of them, having to run in supermarkets when Apache helicopters fired missiles into the city. I've seen children get shot and parents horrified, screaming and crying. I saw Palestinian parents try to protect their children at all costs. I saw Israeli soldiers target children and schools and talk about children as terrorists. These people have endured more than anyone should ever endure and they show only love and compassion, stronger than I've ever seen.
Asked why she thinks Dershowitz invented the Dead Baby Stategy, Kristen responded:
The only way Israelis get away with what they do is to dehumanize Palestinians to the point where they're not even allowed to publicly mourn the deaths of their children.
I spoke with Barbara Lubin, Director of the Middle East Children's Alliance (MECA), who will be returning to Gaza in two weeks with emergency supplies for the children. She, too, had never heard of Dershowitz'Dead Baby Strategy. Here's some of what she said:
In my twenty-five years of traveling to Gaza and working there, I have never seen any such endangerment between Palestinian parents and their children. It's insulting and obnoxious for him [Dershowitz] to make any kind of statement like this about Palestinians using children for some Dead Baby Strategy. It's sickening.
I agree. It is sickening.
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