First I stoke the fires, and then I try to pretend I'm the fireman …

This is a guest post by AKUS
On CiF Watch you’ve met the Tooth Fairy, Ben White:

and Santa’s Little Helper, Rachel Shabi:

And now it’s time to meet the Arsonist, Seth Freedman:

In another article displaying a “sparkling” (ahem) display of empathy for 150,000 Palestinians threatened daily by the 500 (admittedly objectionable) Jewish citizens of Hebron, legitimately occupying mainly a set of houses to which at least in some cases they have ownership papers from which those Jews who survived the 1929 massacre fled, Freedman once again pulled the flip-flop for which he has become … slightly known.
Don’t get ME wrong – no matter how legitimate their claims to some of the old houses like Bet Hadassah in the former Jewish Quarter, I think it was foolish to allow Jews to occupy those houses in Hebron because, as has indeed turned out to be the case, they are a bone in the throat of the local population. It was not hard to see that this would become a problem that Israel could well do without.
But let’s see what’s going on in the Arsonist’s latest article. First we need some melodrama to whip up the crowd:

“A sergeant manning the Tel Rumeida roadblock sneeringly derided TIPH [Temporary International Presence in the City of Hebron] as “smolanim [leftists] – they’re here to work against us. [They] only help the Palestinians. God forbid we should raise a hand to a Palestinian kid, then TIPH take photos and send them to all the world’s media”.

Typical “objective” reporting from Freedman – an unnamed sergeant, impossible to identify, “sneeringly derided TIPH” – a comment impossible to verify. Perhaps the sergeant merely “noted” that “TIPH is here to work against us?” And why would said anonymous sergeant “raise his hand” to a Palestinian kid? Maybe because he objected to being pelted with stones? We’ll never know.
Maybe Freedman disagrees with this sergeant, but strangely enough, he cites one Fathiyeh Gainey, 44, who seems to think TIPH is doing precisely what that sergeant refers to. Whether the sergeant likes it or not, Gainey apparently believes that TIPH acts as a protective shield for the Palestinians, and for good measure, accuses the 500 “settlers” of “ethnically cleansing” the 150,000 or so Arabs who still live in Hebron. After some 42 years, this must rank as clearly an amazing example of mismanaged ethnic cleansing. “”If TIPH are withdrawn, it will be [in line with] Israel’s ethnic cleansing agenda,” says Fathiyeh Gainey, 44, who is interning with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), an NGO which maintains a constant presence in Hebron.”
As usual, all this feeds the cyber-mob.


14 Jan 2010, 11:57AM
Though not at all surprising.
It would seem that within Israel the terms “life” and “Palestinian” have no connection.
One suspects that Palestinians are seen as irritating vermin in the way of never-ending Israeli expansion.


14 Jan 2010, 12:10PM
The Jewish people have studied their historical suffering very well; they use it for black mail, and applying with calculated precision on the poor true owners of the land, the Palestinians.
Be Patient you lovely people, soon Israel will be deserted by all its friends, and the world will come to liberate you.

Then there are those who are led by the article to believe that the entire city of Hebron, and all its Arab residents, are in constant contact with the Israelis (to their detriment, of course) and demonstrates the evil intentions of the State of Israel despite the fact that the PLO actually agreed in 1996-1997 that Israeli citizens have a right to live in Hebron:

14 Jan 2010, 12:10PM
The situation in Hebron is extreme but should be seen as part of the wider picture i.e. another example of the many of ways in which the state of Israel denies Palestinians the right to live normal lives. Israel’s actions are deliberate and planned with the aim of breaking up Palestinian society. To blame the settlers is to ignore the role of the Israeli Occupation Force in backing them. So many of Israel’s abuses are well documented and still no action is taken by the international community.

Shortly, a reader invokes the well-worn tactic on CiF of warning that things are only going to get worse … much, much worse … unless…. unless …:

14 Jan 2010, 12:17PM
We know what removal of witnesses mean: something awful is about to happen.
It is time for a massive international boycott on Israel, its trade, its politicians, its parrots in art and media. at te same time an international support for peace.

(hope springs eternal in the minds of some… specially when they ignore the fact that on the West Bank, things are getting better … much, much better, as report after report from unbiased sources, including Palestinian ones, confirm)
Suddenly, with the clarity of a shofar on Yom Kippur, The Voice of Israel sounds forth and notes:

14 Jan 2010, 12:14PM
Just as not all Jewish residents of Hebron are aggressive towards the Palestinians, so not all Palestinian residents of Hebron are peaceful towards their Jewish neighbors. As anyone of reason who considers the situation would know, these two peoples are in conflict over the right to live in Hebron. As part of that conflict each side commits excesses. And as I have stated, I am ashamed of the excesses committed by Jews in Hebron, irrespective of what the Palestinians do.
We can argue about who’s excesses are worse and whether Jews have a right to live in Hebron (there has been a Jewish presence there for thousands of years). But I will not argue the fact that Jews in Hebron must only be permitted to live on land that legally and fairly belongs to them. (That of course will raise the argument about what is legal and what is fair.)

And at that point, our Arsonist, having well and truly lit the flames (and if you don’t believe me, look at the number of deletions on that thread!) remembers his religious upbringing at a good Jewish Day School in gloomy old Britain, and re-enters the fray – this time flip-flopping to try to put out the hateful fire he has lit:

14 Jan 2010, 1:15PM
regardless of what happens in terms of a future peace deal, a situation must never occur where jews are not allowed to visit the cave of machpela (in the centre of hebron’s old city), in the same way that muslims must never be prevented from praying at the dome of the rock.

Thus, suddenly, far too late, we are reminded WHY these religious Jews are so adamant about being in Hebron – not just to dispossess Arabs, or annoy or attack them, but because for many Jews this is the bedrock of Judaism – this is as close to the start of the whole religion as a religious Jew can get. By the way, he could equally have written:

“in the same way that muslims must never be prevented from praying at the cave of Machpela”
because it is shared by both faiths which both recognize Abraham as their progenitor, if I may use that word – the Jews via Abraham’s son Isaac, and the Muslims via Ibrahim’s son Ishmael. Because the reality is that for both faiths it is a holy city that will have to be shared in the future, just as Israel shares Jerusalem with Christians and Moslems today.

Things heat up, if I may use the phrase in connection with our Arsonist, pretty quickly thereafter, as the resident airhead shows off her paces:

14 Jan 2010, 2:06PM
regardless of what happens in terms of a future peace deal, a situation must never occur where jews are not allowed to visit the cave of machpela (in the centre of hebron’s old city), in the same way that muslims must never be prevented from praying at the dome of the rock.
How can anyone say that regardless of what happens in the future, we must be allowed free access to this and that place in another country? If applied to another place, another situation, you would see that such exactingness can only be displayed if you hold the gun to someone defenceless. The normal situation is that you are prepared to offer something to get something. In this case that negotiation must take place after the withdrawal of Israel to its legal (ie international law) and a Palestinian state can take the question under consideration. Should they choose to build a school, a carpark or whatever there, they are in their right to do so. It is not as if Israel has shown due deference to sites that Palestinians of old hold sacred.

Hmm…“It is not as if Israel has shown due deference to sites that Palestinians of old hold sacred”. Really?
Ellymiranda displays, of course, both her monumental ignorance and strict adherence to the GWV with which she has been carefully indoctrinated by articles like this one on CiF. Israel goes to enormous lengths to protect holy places of all faiths – Christianity, Islam, Bahai, Judaism, Samaritans, the Druze, and probably others I am not aware of since it seems every faith under the sun wants its own little foothold in the Holy Land.
Too late the Arsonist begins to realize that he may have started a blaze he cannot contain, and, like a true Arsonist, begins to play the Fireman:

14 Jan 2010, 2:20PM
ellymiranda – ” Should they choose to build a school, a carpark or whatever there, they are in their right to do so”
did you say the same when the taliban blew up the buddhas? do you genuinely not believe in showing respect for other faiths’ holy sites/artefacts/etc,

And the self-justifying snarling so many have noted in the Arsonist’s responses begins:

or are you just letting your venom for all things israeli cloud your judgment?
impeccable logic, for a playground at least. however just as i criticise instances where israeli officials show disregard for palestinian rights (eg the construction of the museum of tolerance on a muslim cemetery), why would i not apply the same criteria in a situation such as palestinian officials preventing jews praying at machpela in a future palestinian state?
you don’t need to respond immediately, if it takes you a while to get your head round the sauce for the goose principle, so be it. i’m a patient man.

Yet his patience wears thin pretty quickly:

14 Jan 2010, 3:23PM
ellymiranda – “No, I have no respect for religion per se; I hold it all to be dangerous superstition”
as you wish. Pretty pointless discussing religious freedom with you in that case.

But you see, dear Arsonist – that is exactly the point – you insist on writing articles that whip up the ellymirandas and the rest of her kind. Actually, it’s pretty pointless discussing anything with ellymiranda – her needle is embedded so firmly in its groove nothing will get it out. She’s even joined those trying to write Jews out of history and write Palestinians in:

14 Jan 2010, 3:20PM
14 Jan 2010, 3:06PM
Hebron was a Jewish city centuries before a Palestinian one. The only lasting peace will come with a transfer of populations so that Hebron and other places in the ?Occupied Territories? revert to their Jewish character.
We don’t really know that, do we? Nor what ‘Palestinian’ and ‘Jewish meant ‘back then’. But you think that Israeli citizens that are not Jewish should be thrown out?

Of course we do know perfectly well that Hebron WAS a Jewish city centuries before a “Palestinian” one. The historical record of Jewish life there for centuries is clear and documented, and, of course, the concept of an Arab Palestinian city dates all the way back to about …. 1967. We know exactly what “Palestinian” meant “back then” – for example, in Roman times, since they created the word and idea of “Palaestina/Palestine”. It meant … “Jewish”. In fact, even under the British mandate, the Jews were Palestinians.
Let’s look at starofdavid’s comment that shows how ridiculous the Arsonist’s article really is, and incidentally, is the only reference in the article or the accompanying thread that mentions the critically important division of the city into H1 and H2 agreed to by Arafat and his negotiators in 1996-1997:

14 Jan 2010, 5:32PM
Reading the article one is led to believe that life for the Arabs in Hevron is untenable and is at the whim of the Jews in the city, of course one needs International Observers to protect the Arabs…..and then there’s this little niggling thing called reality that gets in the way of this fantasy.
There are 170,000 Arabs living in Hevron, the PA has jurisdiction over these people and has total physical control over their people, the area being called H1.
There are 500 Jews living in Hevron, they are under the jurisdiction of the Israeli gov’t. in the area called H2.
The IDF does not enter the H1 unless requested or authorized by the PA.
There are no International Observers ensuring that Jews can and do enter H1 for any purposes what-so-ever.
170,000 Arabs cannot live with the knowledged that there are 500 Jews living in enclave, unable to leave them in peace on top of which they have the unmitigated gall to claim that THEY are threatened????
Reading this article you’d thing it was the other way around, 500 Arabs unable to live in peace because of 170,00 Jews and how important it is for International Observers to ensure their safety.

Perhaps it’s time for the Arsonist to take a well-intended hint, although I certainly query the idea that the Arsonist is “always thoughtful and compassionate” (certainly not towards Jews):

14 Jan 2010, 3:32PM
Seth you’re a good man and your articles are always thoughtful and compassionate, although for reasons of acute discomfort not always readable (to the end) bless you but I think I speak for most of us when I say that Israel fati[g]ue has set in and as Apocalyptic as the [situ]ation might be I think we have reached the point where we think “let it take its course” – these people are never going to see the wood for the trees (as it were)

But if you are an Arsonist who wants to play both sides by lighting the fire and then pretending to be the fireman – why let a little cool logic and the historical record get in your way? One good reason may be, as my late mother used to say:

“Children who play with matches get burnt”.

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