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Monday, June 28, 2010

Tom Friedman's vile comparison

In yet another call for Israel to forfeit its security from the editorial pages of the New York Times, Tom Friedman makes a vile comparison:
What is different about these three wars, though, is that Israel won them using what I call “Hama Rules” — which are no rules at all. “Hama Rules” are named after the Syrian town of Hama, where, in 1982, then-President Hafez el-Assad of Syria put down a Muslim fundamentalist uprising by shelling and then bulldozing their neighborhoods, killing more than 10,000 of his own people.

In Israel’s case, it found itself confronting enemies in Gaza and Lebanon armed with rockets, but nested among local civilians, and Israel chose to go after them without being deterred by the prospect of civilian casualties. As the Lebanese militia leader Bashir Gemayel was fond of saying — before he himself was blown up — “This is not Denmark here. And it is not Norway.”

The brutality of the Israeli retaliations bought this timeout with Hezbollah and Hamas, and the civilian casualties and troubling TV images bought Israel a U.N. investigation into alleged war crimes.
Hama was a massacre carried out by Hafez Assad's Syria in 1982:
The Hama massacre (Arabic: مجزرة حماة‎) occurred in February 1982, when the Syrian army bombarded the town of Hama in order to quell a revolt by the Muslim Brotherhood. An estimated 7,000 to 40,000 people were killed, including about 1,000 soldiers,[1] and large parts of the old city were destroyed. The attack has been described as possibly being "the single deadliest act by any Arab government against its own people in the modern Middle East".[2]


The events of the massacre began on 2 a.m. on the night of 2–3 February 1982. An army unit searching the old city "stumbled on the hideout of the local guerilla commander, `Umar Jawwad," (aka Abu Bakr) and were ambushed. Other insurgent cells were allerted by radio and "roof-top snipers killed perhaps a score" of Syrian soldiers. Reinforcements were rushed to besiege Abu Bakr who then "gave the order for a general uprising" in Hama. Mosque loudspeakers used for the call to prayer called for jihad against the Ba'ath, and hundreds of Islamic insurgents rose attack the homes of government officials and Baath Party leaders, overrun police posts and ransack armouries. By daybreak of the morning of 3 February some 70 leading Ba'thists had been killed and the Islamist insurgents and other opposition activists proclaimed Hama a "liberated city", urging Syrians to rise up against the "infidel".[6]


Because of the bloodiness and length of the insurgency, the Ba'ath regime and its power base saw no room for negotiation or compromise with the uprising. According to author Patrick Seale, "every party worker, every paratrooper sent to Hama knew that this time Islamic militancy had to be torn out of the city, whatever the cost ..." [7]

The military was mobilized, and Hafez sent Rifaat's special forces (the Defense companies), elite army units and Mukhabarat agents to the city. Before the attack, the Syrian government called for the city's surrender and warned that anyone remaining in the city would be considered a rebel. Besieged by 12,000 troops, the fighting in Hama lasted for three weeks - the first week "in regaining control of the town," and the last two "in hunting down the insurgents."[7] Robert Fisk in his book Pity the Nation described how civilians were fleeing Hama while tanks and troops were moving towards the city's outskirts to start the siege. He cites reports of high numbers of deaths and shortages of food and water from fleeing civilians and from soldiers.[8]

According to Amnesty International, the Syrian military bombed the old city center from the air to facilitate the entry of infantry and tanks through the narrow streets; buildings were demolished by tanks during the first four days of fighting. Large parts of the old city were destroyed. There are also unsubstantiated reports of use of hydrogen cyanide by the government forces.[1] After encountering fierce resistance, Rifaat's forces ringed the city with artillery and shelled it for three weeks.

Afterwards, military and internal security personnel were dispatched to comb through the rubble for surviving Brothers and their sympathizers.[9] Torture and mass executions of suspected rebel sympathizers ensued, killing many thousands over several weeks.
By comparison, by the highest estimate around 1,400 people were killed in Operation Cast Lead and nearly all of them have been shown by the IDF to have been terrorists.

Friedman is beneath contempt.


At 11:05 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

In all its wars and in two intifadas, Israeli forces never killed as many Arabs as the Arabs have killed their own people. There is no comparison between what Israel did and what the Syrians did in Hama.

Tom Friedman is beneath contempt indeed.

At 1:07 PM, Blogger Michal said...

I was in Syria in June 1983 and travelled by bus thru Hama to Aleppo.
Near the road side everything had been cleaned up, rebuilt or was under construction. But in the distance you could see that the town was just rubble.
Assad flattened Hama.

At 4:56 PM, Blogger Moriah said...

Hafez Assad wrote a book about the uprising ... do you know the title?

At 11:30 PM, Blogger Seal Of Lion said...

Story goes that a reporter asked Assad's army commander if he really did kill 10,000 people at Hama. He replied quite indigently, "No..no I
didn't kill 10,000! Are you out of your mind? I killed 38,000."


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