Saturday, January 3, 2009

Bradley Burston’s Condescension

American Israeli Bradley Burston, who, for some unknown reason, writes a blog for Haaretz, penned a particularly offensive piece recently entitled, "To win, all that Israel has to do, is survive." In that obnoxious air of superiority reserved for American Israelis who fancy themselves "centrist," he portrays the assassinated Hamas leader Nizar Ghayan as having surrounded himself with his family because "he knew" that Israel would not attack him.

Burston writes here

Knowing Israel (having listened to the Israeli far-right as it condemned the IDF as an army of pansies afraid to fight, and to the Israeli far-left as it sympathized only with Gaza casualties and not those in Sderot), Ghayan knew that he could surround himself with the human shields of four wives and 11 children and survive this war.

Knowing the UN and the international community, Ghayan knew that if he used mosques for Hamas armed wing headquarters and storage armories for longer-range rockets from Iran and China, Israeli military planners would not dare to attack them, fearing a grave diplomatic and public outcry.

Knowing that the Israeli Air Force (in his view, demonstrating the Jew's essential weakness) had begun warning Gazans of impending attacks, Ghayan refused to have his family take to the roof to cause Israel to call off the bombing. The human shield would suffice.

In a matter of 24 hours, two mosques serving as Hamas military bases were destroyed, and Ghayan and his family killed.

Burston claims to know a lot about Ghayan, but in fact he know zilch. Nor does he know the mind of any one willing to be die for a cause. And yet, it doesn't take a whole of imagination to realize what was going on in Ghayan's mind, especially since his son-in-law revealed it to the press.

Niyar Ghayan stayed with his family in his house because he was too proud to go into hiding, not because he counted on Israel's not bombing him with his family. He could scarcely have forgotten how Israel dropped a one ton bomb on Saleh Shehadeh killing him, his wife, nine children, and four others. Or how they Israel fired a missile at Abdel Rantisi's car, killing him and four other people, including a mother and a child. Israel has no moral qualms whatsoever of killing women, children, and babies, if they take can down a leader of Hamas at the same time. For them, it is not a manner of ticking bombs, but of bombing ticks. Their concern is only with one thing – how it will look in the world. And in that they act no different from any other state. As Burston said correctly, most of the world couldn't care less what happened to Ghayan, his four wives, or his children, especially not on New Years Day. What Burston didn't say was that the same world wouldn't have cared had a rocket landed on a school in Sderot, killing a hundred Jews. Who cares about whether the world cares or not? What is important is whether something is right or wrong.

In my opinion, Ghayan's brand of religion, and his willingness to endanger his family, is religiously offensive and morally wrong. He is a hardliner among hardliners (and speaks the way hardliners of any religion – including my own – speak.) If he wanted to commit suicide and become a shaheed fine, but why drag along his family?

Yet there is a difference between being a a martyr to a cause and being an idiot. Ghayan knew that Israel would kill him. And he prepared himself for death. That is what Burston, the liberal Jewish apologist for Israel's actions, doesn't get.

On the day that Ghayan was assassinated, Muhammad Bassiouny, an Egyptian member of parliament and former ambassador to Israel, taunted the Hamas leadership for hiding and abandoning the Gazans to their fate. Had Ghayan acted like them, had he acted responsibly and not put his fate into Allah's hands, he would be alive today, and would be still helping the Hamas resistance.

Israel has repeatedly committed war crimes and have been repeatedly condemned by human rights organizations. The fact that Hamas and Hizbollah also commit war crimes is irrelevant. The central difference between the sides is that Israel's war crimes kill and maim more people because their weaponry is more powerful.

As for Israel's moral posturing , that is a subject for another post. For most Israelis, firing rockets at a civilian area with a small probability of harming anybody is morally worse than knowingly and intentionally killing innocents when taking down a political leader of a hostile organization. Go figure.


David L. said...

Jerry can you just support our boys over these Hamas thugs? Even the Czechs support our efforts to end this hooliganism! Our army must do whatever it takes to end the attacks upon our citizens.

Jerry Haber said...


Some of the "Hamas thugs" are boys. And some of our boys are sent by "Israeli thugs". And I dont care if the Czechs or even Fatah Palestinians support our efforts.

I support efforts to stop the rocket fire. Duh! I support efforts to improve the situation for Israel. Duh! I condemn the indiscriminate firing into civilians. Double Duh! I support our troops when they act within the framework of a just war conducted justly.

But who can support immorality, wherever it occurs, and by whomever it occurse?

Anonymous said...

"just support our boys". It is the Boy's Own Zionist Adventure story that has paralysed Israel since 1967 making peace impossible.

ms. tee said...

Jerry, targeted assassinations that take out whole families are morally sanctioned not only by Israel, but also by "the international community" and media. Somehow "the kill" -- not to mention the four wives -- makes it morally acceptable. It was the same during the 2006 war on Lebanon. No one found it morally reprehensible when 10-20 family members died in targeted assassinations. On the other side -- in Lebanon and presumably also in Gaza -- the ensuing public outrage resulted more from wiping out the family than the one person.

On another note, I agree with your moral stance (I have my own atheist reasoning for it). I was at a protest in downtown Chicago two days ago and I found more people who would agree with you, expressing solidarity with Sderot.

Jerry Haber said...

ms. tee,

when I issue moral criticism of Israelis, I don't for the moment wish to say that others are better. Having lived through the Iraq war, where the number of innocent civilians we Americans killed boggles the mind (and these were people we actually went in there to protect), I have no doubt that the same racism that infects Israel infects much of the West as well.

ms. tee said...

when I issue moral criticism of Israelis, I don't for the moment wish to say that others are better.

I know, I have been reading your blog long enough. I was only giving an "inside" perspective from my experience of the 2006 Lebanon war. Whereas the international media highlighted the assassination of this or that "Hizballah high-ranking official," it was the dead family members that took the front seat inside Lebanon. These Israeli methods work like a charm when it comes to Hizballah's recruitment propaganda.

David L. said...


I'm saddened that the Hamas gangsters have recruited children into their ranks but this does not in any way alter the fact that these monsters must be defeated. It seems the war is going our way. Gaza is now split in three and the cancer caused by these Hamas wreckers will soon be extricated.

If this isn't a just war I don't know what is!


reb moish said...

Just came across your smarmy blog. Blessed is the One who made you inconsequential within the inexorable flow of Jewish History. Orthodox? To what are you 'orthodox' about? You have an angry, condecending pissed-off streak, that suggests thou dost protest to much. Who are you really angry with? Daddy? Mommy? Your image in the mirror?

Lani Silver said...


I came across this article you wrote about Bradley Burston. I can't even find the words to describe your stupidity. Brad is a brilliant, talented, well regarded journalist, who uses more than a right or left wing ideology when writing. To call him obnoxious is to point a finger right back at yourself. I find your writing to be more than obnoxious. You haven't a clue who Bradley is. This is a man who donned a kafiah and met with terrorists in the basement of a mosque 25 years ago, claiming to be "just an American journalist" not a Jew, and risked his own life in order to get a better understanding of who they were.

When was the last time YOU received an award for journalism from the United Nations? They, obviously, think quite highly of him. When was the last time the Federation brought YOU to the United States to speak on Israel and the chances for peace in the Middle East?

It's people like you who make Jews like me ashamed. You are narrow minded and ignorant

Jerry Haber said...

To Lani Silver, or is it Lani Burston Silver? I admire your loyalty (to your dad?) but if you want to respond to a post, why not just respond to the substantive arguments and claims found therein.