The Escalating Conflict between Israelis and Arabs

Since the latest round of violence in Gaza began, I have been studying the Israeli/Palestinian conflict more than I ever have before. By recommendation of a Facebook friend, I am reading My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel by Ari Shavit. As I read, I often stop and turn to Google and Wikipedia to get different perspectives on some of the people and events that Shavit mentions.

I am trying to keep an open mind, and if Zionism is wrong I should be willing to say so. But as I read Shavit’s book, I find reinforcement for much of what I’ve written before: The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is an escalating conflict. There is no clear right and wrong and instead there is a spiral of wrong met by greater wrong.

When the Zionists movement grew at the turn of the 20th century, many Arabs benefited greatly and many lost. In the beginning of the book, Shavit describes a Kibbutz forming at the spring of Harod, and its effect on a nearby Arab village.

First it is located by the spring, so that it will have absolute control over the valley’s water source. Weeks later, when the serfs of the Ein Jaloud hamlet give up and leave, the encampment is transplanted to the mountain slope, right next to the deserted stone houses.

Despite the ruin of Ein Jaloud, the overall effect of the new Kibbutzim was positive because the Kibbutzim drained the deadly, mosquito infested swamps and built irrigation ditches.

The villagers of Zarin are actually doing quite well as the valley booms. The friendly neighbors of Tel Fir and and those of Komay are multiplying now, as the anopheles mosquitoes are no longer here to take the lives of their young. The Bedouins, too, find the valley more attractive now.

The story of the Kibbutz in the valley of Harod is representative of the effects of Zionism on the Arab population. It was a mix of mutual benefit in some cases and Arab displacement in others.

Some Arabs responded to encroaching Zionism with murder. The riots of 1920 and again in the late 1930’s were horrible. Arabs not only burned and destroyed property, they raped, dismembered, and murdered innocent Jewish villagers. The Zionist response was more murder. Shavit:

Most Jewish murderers were members of fringe terrorist groups who defied the policy and instructions of the elected leadership of the Jewish community in Palestine. On the other hand, some of the Jewish actions were far more lethal than the Arab ones. The summer of 1938 was different from the summer of 1936 in that the number of murdered Arab victims exceeded by far the number of murdered Jews.

In the beginning, Zionists came in peace, mostly disregarding the needs of the Arab inhabitants but in many cases forging a mutually beneficial partnership. But there were also those who felt that Arabs had no place in a Jewish homeland. Arabs were also varied in their attitudes toward Zionism. But as violence escalated, more and more Jews felt they could not be safe with Arabs living among them. Arab violence helped foster support for the ethnic cleansing that they legitimately feared.

Zionism grew into a racist and nationalistic movement to expel Arabs from their lands, while extermination of Jews became the centerpiece of religious dogma throughout Arabia. Israel stands defiant against those who wish to murder all of its inhabitants, and Palestinians continue to rebel against the theft, oppression, and murder that they endure for the sake of Israel’s safety.

Meanwhile, observers on each side refuse to explore the other’s side of the story, hardening their belief that extermination of the other is the only solution to the conflict.

Book Cover for My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel

The Palestinian Riots of 1920

I posted a version of “Israel’s Original Sin” on Daily Kos as well as this blog, and on Kos I got some criticism for the title, (which I have since changed. See update below.) such as “Really bad title for a pretty thoughtful diary”, “… an odd way to put a secular political thought and could be interpreted as incendiary speech”, and “I agree such a title might lead to people mistaking the intent of the author”.

Considering the criticism from the title and some of the dialog about the actual content of my post, I’m surprised that nobody mentioned the riots in the 1920’s, here described in a Wikipedia article: (I chopped the paragraph up for brevity)

With the outcome of the First World War, the relations between Zionism and the Arab national movement seemed to be potentially friendly, […] However, with the defeat and dissolution of the Arab Kingdom of Syria in July 1920 […] The return of several hard-line Palestinian Arab nationalists […] marked the beginning of Palestinian Arab nationalist struggle towards establishment of a national home for Arabs of Palestine […] Amin al-Husseini […] immediately marked Jewish national movement and Jewish immigration to Palestine as the sole enemy to his cause, initiating large-scale riots against the Jews as early as 1920

By “potentially friendly”, the article’s author means there was open acceptance by Arab leadership. On signing the Faisal–Weizmann Agreement for Arab-Jewish Cooperation in 1919, Faisal (who later became Faisal I of Iraq) stated (Also from Wikipedia):

We Arabs… look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement. Our deputation here in Paris is fully acquainted with the proposals submitted yesterday by the Zionist Organisation to the Peace Conference, and we regard them as moderate and proper. We will do our best, insofar as we are concerned, to help them through; we will wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home… I look forward, and my people with me look forward, to a future in which we will help you and you will help us, so that the countries in which we are mutually interested may once again take their places in the community of the civilised peoples of the world.

Unfortunately, the potential friendliness was marred by rioting instigated by an Arab nationalist who didn’t want Jews in Arabia. That nationalist, Haj Amin al-Husseini, later became one of Hitler’s allies.

Between two people, a dirty look might lead to a unfriendly shoulder bump which leads to a shove which leads to a punch. Perhaps instead of “Original Sin” I should have used “First Punch”. One could make a good case that the riots were the first punch. But the riots might have ended. When Israel was created, there was no easy way to undo what had been done. Still, in an escalating conflict it’s hard to define the first genuine act of aggression.

Update 2014 07/23: I wrote a post called “Israel’s First Sin and Continued Hope for Peace” and received so much criticism for that title that I have since changed it. This post was titled “Palestinian Sin”, and considering the criticism for other title, I have changed this title as well.

Israel’s First Punch and Continued Hope for Peace

A while ago, I pointed out that a photo which a Facebook friend shared, showing a soldier with a boot on a little girl’s chest, was faked. But now there is so much genuine horror that it seems moot that some of the images are not real. I can’t seem to hold on to an opinion for more than a few minutes, and may instantly regret what I write after I post it, but what I see happening today is Israel claiming to minimize civilian casualties while its military members are so hateful that they don’t really care. I see Palestinians in an unacceptable and unfair situation, but who long ago chose the most horrific methods of expressing their frustrations. I see Israel’s right to invade Gaza and destroy the tunnels, and I see Palestinian’s right to protest the carnage. I see terrible wrong on both sides and partisans on both sides sharing half-true news stories, with Zionists ignoring the economic hardship caused by overbearing security measures and Palestinian supporters ignoring the fact that no matter what Israel gives them, they either destroy it or use it against Israel. There is wrong on both sides.

The first punch, though, is on Israel. Not because the Zionists expelled all of the Arabs to create their homeland; that story ignores all those who willingly left so they could join their Arab neighbors in a failed attempt to murder Israel. And not because Palestine was a sovereign nation that was invaded. It never was. And not because the region hadn’t already changed hands many times before. And not because the people who lived on the land that became Israel might not have prospered had they accepted the Zionists’s offer of citizenship. But despite all that, there were people living in the land that became Israel, and when those people were told that a bunch of new folks were going to move in and form a nation, their response was, “we don’t want it”, and that response should have been honored.

Finding out who threw the first punch isn’t enough to bring peace or justice in an escalating conflict. Today, we have an imperialist military power fighting against a movement that wants nothing short of the death of the sinner as reparations for its sins. Israel will not die to appease terrorists and Palestinians will not accept brutal conditions imposed on them by occupiers. It seems hopeless.

I do think it’s hopeless to stop the horror of the current operation. I am still supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself but cannot blame all of the carnage on Hamas’s “human shields” while praising Israel for not targeting civilians. Too bad my support is irrelevant. This operation will play out until the tunnels are destroyed and Hamas is devastated, along with dozens of innocent, non-targeted children.

But after this incursion, there will again be hope. Israeli supporters claim it is hopeless because they keep making concessions and getting nothing but aggression in return. That is, to a small degree, true. In support for their arguments they contrast relinquishing the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in exchange for peace against withdrawing from Gaza in 2005. That withdrawal resulted in Palestinian criminals looting and destroying greenhouses that Israeli settlers left for the Palestinian people, economic devastation in Palestine, and continued attacks on Israel. But there are many differences between giving the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt and withdrawing from Gaza, including:

  • Israel’s continued control and harsh restrictions of Gaza’s borders (with Egypt’s help).
  • Egypt’s financial and political establishment which would not have allowed the Sinai Peninsula to descend into chaos
  • Palestinian longing for land within Israel’s borders

Another difference: if militants on Egypt’s border were to fire rockets at Israel, Israel’s response, even if it were disproportionate, would not be so devastating that all of Egypt would be bathed in the blood of Egyptian civilians.

The next withdrawal from Gaza must include a genuine economic investment for peace. It must include a police force capable of protecting resources from looters and the ability to move goods in and out of Gaza. It also must include a willingness on both sides to show enough restraint not to let enemies of peace scuttle the entire process. That last point means accepting the fact that there will be more murders, but not every murder should be answered with a military incursion.

Peace won’t happen without pressure. For Americans it means writing letters to politicians expressing support for Israel’s right to self-defense but also support for pressuring Israel to make genuine, costly, and risky efforts towards peace. It means financial contributions to organizations working for peace. For those who can, it means volunteering for such organizations.

A true effort towards peace is almost impossible to imagine, since Israelis will raise hell in protest and it will not eliminate the threat from anti-Zionists who only want the death of Israel. But considering Israel’s prosperity on land that once belonged to others, they should and hopefully can be pressured to take the only realistic path towards peace short of self-annihilation or criminal oppression and murder. As for the Palestinians who want Israel dead, I believe that pragmatism can beat extremism even when the extremism is fueled by a legitimate grievance.

Update: This post was originally titled “Israel’s Original Sin and Continued Hope for Peace”, and I had used the phrase “Original sin” in the text. I posted it on Daily Kos as well as this blog, and on Daily Kos I was strongly criticized from commenters who told me the phrase was inflammatory, and who felt I was literally cursing Israel, in a religious sense. That was not my intent. I was only trying to find a place to point to and say, “There, that was the definitive moment.” As I did on Kos, I apologize for the poorly chosen phrase, and I hope this is more clear now without it.

A Facebook Argument about Gaza Gets Nasty

I’m not sure if there is much value in re-posting this, other than a desire to vent and a vain desire to hear what others think. But sometimes it’s helpful to share.

This started when a FB friend of mine posted a video make by a FB user named Ali, who also calls himself “Neat Man”. Ali lives in Gaza and I don’t doubt the distress that he must be in right now. Ali placed the following caption on his video:

My rage just shows that this is bad and that its what it is its a genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians..
Ali
Gaza, Palestine

I responded to my friend’s repost of the video.

Me: Israel’s goal is not genocide. Israel’s goal is to stop the attacks. While I don’t approve of the way Israel prevents the people of Gaza to live a normal life, I can’t blame Israel for every casualty when Hamas fires rockets from populated areas then tells people to remain in those areas to await the missiles.

L: Stop listening to the mainstream media Ben. Zionist have even stated that genocide is their agenda. The Jewish people (not Zionist) have also told the world that they do not support the Zionist hijacking their religion to further their political agenda. Zionist Israel is a terrorist organization who have used the media to advance their political goals. ANY country that locks people into an area where they cannot escape and then bombs them is trying to ethnically cleanse the population. The Zionist goal is to get rid of all Palestinians and they have said this numerous times. Don’t let the media convince you that human right violations are justified. It is never ok to kill innocent people and then to use power, money, corruption to cover up the crime…. GENOCIDE.

Me: I try to listen to a verity of media. I recommend that you occasionally hold your nose and visit news agencies that you find offensive because sometimes your enemies are telling the truth. It’s hard to learn when you decide that anyone telling you what you don’t already believe is lying. I don’t believe Ali is lying, for instance. But I believe he is being used as a pawn. Hamas fires rockets from populated areas and awaits Israel’s wrath. Israel is too happy to comply. The rockets won’t stop because too many Muslims want Arabia to be clean of Jews. And every time a terrorist attacks Israel, Israel attacks Palestinians like Ali. I don’t support everything Israel does, but they don’t want Genocide. They want the rockets to stop.

L: It seems Zionist supporters in the US are all watching their TVs cause all of you keep repeating the same Zionist spun media reports. Collectively you are some of the most hate filled people I have ever known. How you can justify mass murder of people held captive is beyond me. Ben no one can force you to care about human rights. This massacre in Gaza is NOT about rockets. Please refrain from telling anyone what they should do or not do to conform to your value system and thought process. Ben, ALL of Gaza is a populated area. Israel is now firing on Hospitals. Do you actually believe that Hamas is using the Hospital to hide a stash of rockets? Israel destroys Hospitals because that is what angry, hateful Terrorist do for revenge. The world’s Jewry has made it very clear that they too oppose Zionist Israel and the hijacking of their religion to further the Zionist political agenda. Part of which is to secure the Gas reserves off the coast of Gaza…. A multi billion dollar find that the greedy corrupt Israel wants all to itself. As I keep saying…. This massacre is not about rockets. Zionist always think about two things…. Money and Power. What is that saying? Money and Power always lead to…..

Me: Instead of addressing anything I’ve written, you dismissed all with a baseless implication that I get all of my news from watching Zionist spun media reports on TV, which is extremely false. It’s as if you barely read my post beyond discovering that I don’t agree with you 100 percent, and decided that I must be brainwashed or hateful.

Yes, I actually believe that Hamas is using hospitals to stash weapons. You see, I can believe that the Israelis are evil enough to destroy a hospital out of hate but I can also believe that Hamas is evil enough to turn a hospital into a target. You seem to be only capable of believing the Zionists are evil.

Even if the Zionists could be evil enough to destroy a hospital for no reason other than pure hate, how could they be so stupid? Not only did they fire upon a hospital, they broadcast their intentions well enough in advance to allow a large group of Palestinians to gather around and watch. “Hey look everyone, we’re about to destroy a hospital. Grab your smartphones, you won’t want to miss this!”

Hamas is not stupid either. Hiding weaponry in a hospital is a win win situation for them. They either get to store their weapons in a place that Israel won’t dare destroy, or, more likely and more lucrative, they get the publicity of showing Israel’s wanton destruction. So the the next question is if Hamas is willing to sacrifice Palestinians to further their goal of destroying Israel. Considering they used to train people to blow themselves up on buses and in markets, and only stopped because suicide bombers were bringing bad publicity, I have to think the answer is Yes.

They are both capable of evil. I am not as pro-Zionist as you think. But the Israeli strike on the hospital would be completely against Israeli interests if there wasn’t a tactical reason for it, and creating a tactical reason is very advantageous to Hamas.

L: I know you personally Ben and I know what your other personal friends say about you…. It’s not something I would repeat on social media but I am well aware of your political agenda. Your lack of care and concern for the human rights of the Palestinian people and the internationals in Gaza suffering at the hands of Zionist Israel is deplorable.

Me: That is bizarre. We met twice. There is only one person who we know in common and I am sorry if I ever offended him. You know what my personal friends say about me? That’s hard to believe, since you have me characterized so incorrectly. You think I watch TV News. You think I’m repeating the same things as all the other Zionists. You think I have no compassion for the Palestinians.

I believe you are compassionate but I also think you are vengeful, stubborn, and sometimes out of control with your anger. And you don’t fight fair. But this is more important than how we feel about each other personally. I simply don’t believe that your characterization of Israel as genocidal is going to help ease the suffering in the Middle East. Your heart may be in the right place but your refusal to explore information that doesn’t comply with your beliefs is counter-productive. It may not be your intention but you are promoting hate. I believe that Hamas is at least as responsible for Palestinian suffering as Israel is, and I don’t think that anyone who refuses to explore that fact can help stop the carnage. I don’t expect you convince you here. But I ask that you explore points of view that differ from your preconceived notions.

I do not intend to reply to any more personal attacks.

L: You sure act just like a Zionist Benjamin Goldberg hateful, mean and nasty. You come to my house (my wall) and you attack me, my family and friends then just like a Zionist you want to spin it around as if I attacked you. You have a habit of doing this to people you disagree with and we have all seen you attack people and then pretend you are innocent. I didn’t ask for your comment on my wall posts so don’t think I am going to take your foul behavior and just shut up. You pull that on everyone. Attack Attack Attack and you never stop until you get the last word. Please go play your games elsewhere Benjamin.

Israel is now firing on Hospitals. Do you actually believe that Hamas is using the Hospital to hide a stash of rockets?

On facebook, a friend asked, “Israel is now firing on Hospitals. Do you actually believe that Hamas is using the Hospital to hide a stash of rockets?”

I wrote “Yes”.

Yes, I actually believe that Hamas is using hospitals to stash weapons. While I can believe that the Israelis are evil enough to destroy a hospital out of hate, I can also believe that Hamas is evil enough to turn a hospital into a target. My friend only seems capable of believing the Zionists are evil.

Even if Israel is evil enough to destroy a hospital for no reason other than pure hate, how could they be so stupid? Not only did they fire upon El-Wafa hospital, they broadcast their intentions in advance to allow a everyone to gather around and watch. “Hey look everyone, we’re about to destroy a hospital. Grab your smartphones, you won’t want to miss this!”

International solidarity activists are staying in a Gaza hospital, which the Israel Defense Forces has indicated it plans to bomb, as a human shield.

Hamas is not stupid either. Hiding weaponry in a hospital is a win win situation for them. They either get to store their weapons in a place that Israel won’t dare destroy, or, more likely and more lucrative, they get the publicity of showing Israel’s wanton destruction. So the the next question is if Hamas is willing to sacrifice Palestinians to further their goal of destroying Israel. Considering the suicide bombers and the belief in martyrdom, I have to think the answer is yes.

They are both capable of evil. I am not as pro-Zionist as my friend thinks. But the Israeli strike on the hospital would be completely against Israeli interests if there wasn’t a tactical reason for it, and creating a tactical reason is very advantageous to Hamas.

Much of What You Believe About the Middle East Conflicts Is Probably False

I don’t like posting about Israel and Palestine because it’s hard for me to compensate properly for my bias. But I’ve seen posts by Facebook friends of faked or falsely attributed photos about the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian violence and feel I must at least help dispel some of the lies.

My bias makes me react more strongly to the lies about Israel than to the lies about Palestine, but there are indeed lies 0n all sides. Because of all the lies, you cannot form an intelligent opinion about the Middle East by reacting to Facebook posts and tweets. If you have a few Zionist or anti-Zionist friends and you mindlessly forward their shocking pictures or heartbreaking stories without taking at least a couple of minutes to find out if they are real, then you are probably helping to disseminate false propaganda, which leads to more violence.

So here is a quick list of things to consider and hopefully compel you to do more research on more than one side of the issue. Some of my items are pro-Israel, some pro-Palestine. It’s not an “all you need to know” list, but it’s a start.

* Hamas uses human shields, and that is part of the reason the body count is so one-sided (another, of course, is Israel’s military superiority). And Israel warns the Palestinians about their targets. (see Video Shows Gaza Residents Acting as Human Shields, Newsweek, and Israel drops leaflets warning Gaza residents to evacuate ahead of airstrikes, CNN )

screen capture from IDF blog with photo of rocket launch labeled: Hamas Caught Firing Rocket from Civilian Area

Photo: Screenshot of page on idfblog.com

* Some of the horrible pictures that we’re seeing are not current and/or not from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Many are from Syria (see Report: Gaza supporters using false images on Twitter, Haaretz. Also see More Fakestinian lies, old lies, and video tape, from Almost Midnight in the West. I don’t advocate the hate that this website promotes, but this page has good examples of falsely attributed images.)

* Many would be surprised how many Jews opposed the creation of Israel, and still oppose its existence. There is a rational for saying the Jewish Religion forbids a Jewish homeland. ( see Why Orthodox Jews are Opposed to the Zionist State, Neturei Karta )

* There are a significant number of Arabs and Muslims who will not accept any solution other than the destruction of Israel, and are lying when they come to the negotiating table. (see Benny Morris: “The 1948 War Was an Islamic Holy War”, Middle East Quarterly).

* Israel also lies at the negotiation table, and cannot in good faith work towards peace while it continues to build settlements. (see Obama and Israel: The pessimistic perspective The Hill)

Update: A counterpoint to my first point. Emily Hauser suggests we read Is Israel committing war crimes in Gaza?, Haaretz.

Update 2014 July 25: I had originally written “there is rational for saying the Torah forbids a Jewish homeland.” That was completely wrong. I changed “Torah” to “Jewish Religion”.

I Support Israel, but I Don’t Serve Israel

If tension between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu imply that Obama hates Israel, doesn’t logic dictate that it also implies Netanyahu hates America? In fact, neither implication is true.

I’ve been getting dire phone calls from the Emergency Committee for Israel lately telling me I shouldn’t vote for Obama because Obama hasn’t complied with all of Netanyahu’s wishes. I’m probably one of very few people in Suffolk, Virginia to receive these phone calls.

I support Israel’s existence, I support Israel’s right to self defense, and I support America’s commitment to stand behind Israel. And despite personal tensions with Netanyahu, so does Obama. As UCLA professor Steven Spiegel states:

he established the closest working military and intelligence relationship with Israel in the country’s history: joint exercises and training, increased security assistance every year, unprecedented advanced technology transfers, doubling of funding for Israel’s missile defense system, and assistance in funding for the Iron Dome system that today intercepts rockets headed for Israel. Indeed, in the debate he was emphatic that Israel “is a true friend and our greatest ally in the region,” and went on to say later, “I will stand with Israel if they are attacked. And this is the reason why, working with Israel, we have created the strongest military and intelligence cooperation between our two countries in history.”

I blame tensions between Obama and Netanyahu on the prime minister. From the very beginning of Obama’s presidency, Netanyahu has created difficulty in U.S. Israeli relations. He has been obstinate, difficult to deal with, and has spoken to the president as one would speak while lecturing a child. But Mitt Romney and his supporters feel Obama should have responded by showing Netanyahu more respect. I don’t feel that way.

A friend isn’t a servant. I support Israel, but just like many Israelis, I disagree with Netanyahu’s policies and I don’t want a president who campaigns on promises to please the Prime Minister.

Even Benghazi Conspiracy Theorists Should Vote Obama

Benghazi conspiracy theories shouldn’t sway you towards Romney. All of the crazy theories are probably wrong and most of them have to be. The Right wing has a bunch of incompatible stories to explain the President’s incompetence or inhumanity or allegiance to Islamic terrorists or to communists or whatever. Even if one these outrageous stories turns out to be true, logic dictates that the others are false. It wasn’t an inattentive response by a president more interested in his campaign than in American lives and also a decision to allow a U.S. ambassador die to cover up a covert operation. It wasn’t an incompetent response by a president who froze like a deer in the headlights and also a frantic decision to let Americans die because allowing the attack to blow out of control made it easier (by some bizarre logic) to distance the attack from terrorism.

The theories aren’t just incompatible, they’re preposterous. But as with global warming denial and Bill Clinton conspiracy theories, the philosophy is quantity rather than quality. Just keep pounding away with accusations because they can’t all be debunked by election day, and the more outlandish the accusations are, the more likely they are to stick in voters’ minds as election day drawers near.

My own conspiracy theory, (well I thought it was my own until I read similar theories) based on the fact that September 11th 2009, 2010, and 2011 went by smoothly, is that somebody must have put in a strong effort into making sure September 11th 2012 would be a serious embarrassment for the president. This has been a convenient October surprise for the Romney campaign. I know it happened in September, but the definition still applies. I believe the plot included feeding misinformation to our intelligence agencies, and I believe that “The Innocence of Muslims” really did play a part.

I urge undecided voters not to let crazy theories sway you toward Romney. Consider this: If you want Obama to burn if any of these nasty theories about him turn out to be true, then reelect him.

If Obama is defeated, then even if these outrageous accusations turn out to be true, this whole story might just get lost when America’s attention is distracted towards something else. But if these accusations turn out to be false, then we will have allowed terrorists, liars, and lunatic conspiracy theorists control our elections.

On the other hand, if Obama wins and these accusations turn out to be true, this story will be a huge scandal likely leading to the impeachment and trial of President Obama, and a mortifying embarrassment to liberal bloggers like me. It would likely lead to a Republican takeover of congress in two years, and a long-term loss of credibility for the DNC. But if Obama is reelected and these crazy stories about him are false, we will have shown the terrorists and conspirators that they do not tell us who to elect as President of the United States.

Obama’s “Doubled” Death Toll

While I was commenting on a Washington Post article, another commenter wrote something like “… doubled Bushes death toll in Afghanistan”. I wish I could get the exact quote but three thousand comments later, I can’t even find my own comment.

I had to look up that statistic and indeed it’s true, at least according to icasualties.org. This statistic is featured prominently on anti-war sites as well as right wing blogs such as The Blaze, where possibly retarded members of that blog’s readership theorize that the increase in casualties is due to Obama’s allegiance to Islamic forces.

But focusing on the death toll in Afghanistan misses the withdrawal from Iraq. These numbers are based on the tables in icasualties’s home page:

U.S. Death Tolls
Afghanistan Iraq Total
2001 12 0 12
2002 49 0 49
2003 48 486 534
2004 52 849 901
2005 99 846 945
2006 98 822 920
2007 117 904 1021
2008 155 314 469
2009 317 149 466
2010 499 60 559
2011 418 54 472
Total 2002-8 618 4221 4839
Total 2009-11 1234 263 1497
Monthly Avg 2002-8 88 603 691
Monthly Avg 2009-11 411 88 499

Since Obama took office, the U.S. casualty rate dropped significantly due to the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, even as the toll increased in Afghanistan as Obama stepped up operations there.

To ignore the Iraq withdrawal in an effort to suggest that twice as many Americans are dying under Obama’s leadership is miserably dishonest. To speculate that it’s because Obama is a Muslim is stupid.

Like OMG, Four Troops in Libya!

The first paragraph of a Fox News story:

Despite repeated assurances from President Obama and military leaders that the U.S. would not send uniformed military personnel into Libya, four U.S. service members arrived on the ground in Tripoli over the weekend.

Well, then, I guess we invaded Libya after all! Not quite. The rest of the story is more sane then the opening paragraph. It explains that these four military members are being sent to the U.S. embassy to disable explosive traps and provide general security. The article even quotes John Bolton, saying this is “No big deal”.

Nowhere in the article is Obama accused going back on his word. But the phrase “Despite repeated assurances from President Obama” is very suggestive. As I’ve said before, most readers won’t get passed the first paragraph. So Fox can lead with a harsh sounding teaser, nullify its own words in the following paragraphs, and claim to be as innocent as a cherub after triggering an army of keyboard reactionaries to spread the word that Obama is a lier.

And the keyboard army is, indeed, in motion. From the comments on a you-tube video:

sorry that facts bother you HA HA HA
so many ignoramuses on YT so little time!!
Obama Lies Yet Again!: ‘No U.S. Ground Troops In Libya’
/watch?v=SJ1MDaqZ8VY
Pentagon Confirms U.S. Troops on Ground in Libya…
Despite repeated assurances from President Obama and military leaders that the U.S. would not send uniformed military personnel into Libya, four U.S. service members arrived on the ground in Tripoli over the weekend.
WHY ARE AMERICANS SO DUMBED DOWN?!?!?!??!?!

So popular is this story that as of this morning, if you type “Ground Tro” in Google, it will auto-fill “Ground Troops in Libya”, and the Fox news article will be the first hit.

I’ll say it again and again: You have to read the story, not just the headline, and not just the first paragraph. And you have to read critically, and consider alternative views. That’s true if you’re a Liberal or a Conservative. I know we’re all busy and it’s Football season again, but if you’re going let yourself be led around by the nose from any agenda-driven news source, you’ll be even worse off than you would be if you imposed a news-blackout on yourself.

Read carefully and critically, then vote. Don’t do one without doing the other.