Monday, July 27, 2015

How Does Christians United For Israel (CUFI) View UN Report on 2014 Gaza War?

So after reading For God's Sake: The Christian Right and US Foreign Policy by Lee Marsden (2008) I learned that among evangelical Christians the most prominent pro-Israel organization is Christians United For Israel (CUFI).

Recently the United Nations Human Rights Council released a report about the tragic war in Gaza last year. What did Christians United for Israel have to say about that report?

Unfortunately CUFI did not produce an article about the report themselves. However on their blog CUFI did link to an article which characterized the UN report as "a bad piece of work" and "boring".

This is how the article starts. These words are visible on CUFI's blog.
The UN Human Rights Council’s Independent Commission of Inquiry report on the 2014 Gaza war, released Monday, is a bad piece of work—bad in almost entirely predictable and boring ways, but no less bad for being bad and predictable. It is also no less important for being boring. (Source.)
So the report is "boring" apparently according to this article. These words, although not produced by CUFI, are visible on CUFI's blog.

Now to be fair the article does proceed to look through the UN report and makes various arguments, such as saying that the report did not take proper account of how Israeli soldiers viewed a particular situation. But to call the UN report "boring" seems a strange way to deal with a matter of such importance regardless of how views the situation in Gaza. It detracts from this article.

Here is one part of the report which details how one Israeli lost his legs during the course of that war. Is this part "boring"?
On 26 August, Ze'ev Etzion and Shahar Melamed were killed by a mortar as they tried to repair the electricity lines that had been damaged by Palestinian projectiles earlier in the day in Kibbutz Nirim, Eshkol region. While three other people suffered minor injuries in the attack, Gad Yarkoni, who travelled to Geneva to speak to the commission, had to have both his legs amputated as a result of his injuries. He saw his two colleagues lying close by and realized that his legs were severely injured when the alarm went off again and he could not move. It was not possible to evacuate him immediately by helicopter because the shelling continued despite the agreed ceasefire. He said he was flown to a hospital by helicopter and when he woke up there 13 days later, he was told that he had lost both legs. The Al Qassam Brigades announced that they had targeted Kibbutz Nirim and various other communities in the vicinity of Gaza with 107 mm mortars on the day of the attack. The type of weapon used was consistent with the testimony of kibbutz residents. (Paragraph 79, p. 23.)
Was that part "boring"?

Here's another part of the report. Is this "boring"?
A resident from the neighbourhood of Zanna in Khuza’a told the commission that on 17 July at about 6 p.m., as he left his home to get some water for his chickens, he was approached by a group of Israeli soldiers who confronted him and accused him of digging tunnels for Hamas. The soldiers shined a flashlight on his face and took him away. The witness could see that there were some Palestinian “collaborators” with the soldiers. The witness heard them talk and thought that the “collaborators”, having realized that he was not a very important target, so informed the soldiers and they stopped harassing him, but still decided to detain him. The witness stated that he was then taken to a house he recognized ... which was full of soldiers with dogs. It was Ramadan and after spending 48 hours blindfolded in the house, the witness asked for water and food. He reportedly was told to shut up, and a soldier went through his pockets and took 8300 Shekels from him. When the soldiers removed the blindfold, one of the soldiers showed him the vast level of destruction visible from the window and allegedly told him "look at what we did."

Two days later, the witness was taken to a small room and interrogated about tunnels and weapons caches. The witness claims to have been beaten during the interrogation. He was then given a nylon uniform to wear and transferred to another location where he spent two weeks. He was reportedly held in a room with no windows and interrogated repeatedly about the same issues. At one point, the witness claims to have been forced to sit in a small seat, which he described as being approximately 20cm x 20cm. The soldiers then placed a bag on his face, which carried a terrible stench. He stated that for three days, the soldiers would throw cold water on his head whenever he tried to sleep. The witness fell unconscious at some point and woke up several hours later, finding himself in a bigger cell with about ten other people. Finally, the witness was transferred to a court in Azabal Ashel, where he was sentenced to 28 days in prison. Having served his sentence, he was taken to the Erez crossing. When he asked about the 8500 shekels that had been confiscated earlier, he was told: “Ask Ismail Haniya.” (Paragraphs 327-328, pp. 83-84.)
Is it "boring" for a witness to say that 8500 shekels were stolen from him? Is it boring for him to mention the other things?

Out of respect for what happened in that terrible and tragic war, and especially towards those who died, I would not call a report of this nature "boring" even if I should disagree with it.

War is the most terrible thing. So many terrible things happen in any war. War degrades and defiles it touches. Hence why we all hate war. These are just two stories from that war. There are many others.

Even if a report was going to say something disagreeable to dismiss it as "boring" trivializes this vital issue. If it says something wrong then let such wrongs be exposed, not dismissed as "boring".

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