Scoop Election 08: edited by Gordon Campbell

Gordon Campbell on the shonky Police statistics, and the Israeli air strikes on Gaza

July 15th, 2014

When people systematically alter how being statistics are recorded in order to gain personal and organisational advantage, that’s usually when the Police get called in. Yet in the case of the burglary statistics in Counties-Manakau, it was the Police doing the fudging and – at the time – it was then-Police Minister Judith Collins claiming the credit, and flourishing the stats as a sign of just how effective the Key government was at fighting crime.

The 2011 Crime Statistics released this week indicate reported crime is down 15 percent in the Counties-Manukau South District, which includes Papakura and Pukekohe, during the fiscal year ended 30 June 2011.

Theft, fraud and harassment offences were all down and the number of burglaries in our area has dropped 36.7 percent. This is excellent news for our patch and highlights what can be achieved with continued support for our officers. I’m always pleased to hear such positive feedback from residents when I’m back in the electorate about the great work our local Police are doing to prevent crime…. the fight against crime can be won with a well-resourced, well-trained and dedicated Police service, legislation that sends a strong message to criminals, combined with the support of the community.

Well, as we now know, that 36.7 per cent drop in burglaries was a statistical mirage, and Collins knew that was the case before she began publicly bragging about the bogus outcomes. On RNZ this morning, the Police position is that this incident was an isolated “misunderstanding”, the problem was picked up, the officers concerned were sanctioned, and the numbers involved were only a small part of the overall crime picture. Those arguments would be more reassuring (a) if the Police “ misunderstanding” had not always been in one direction ie, crimes were systematically downgraded, not upgraded and (b) if the Police had come clean and publicized the Counties-Manakau situation and their response to it. They didn’t, though. Labour’s Jacinda Ardern revealed it. And – outrageously in the light of Judith Collins’ prior actions – Ardern has been slagged for making political capital out of the revelations.

The public now has only the Police’s assurance that bogus, Police-concocted good news in the fight against crime is not a more widespread problem. So long as politicians keep on beating the law and order drum, its healthy for public to stay skeptical about any claims that these measures are working.

The slaughter in Gaza – where air strikes are being unleashed on densely populated areas and large numbers of civilian casualties are inevitable – is clearly a war crime. Bombing civilian centres amounts to collective punishment of the entire population for the sins of Hamas, a response forbidden by Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited. Pillage is prohibited. Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.

Yes, Israel has dropped leaflets warning the people penned up in Gaza to ‘evacuate’ shortly before the bombing commences. In the circumstances, this is more like a psychological weapon to induce panic, than a genuine exercise of clemency. After all, where are the people penned up in Gaza supposed to safely relocate? The border with Egypt is closed to them, and they can’t head off into the Sinai, either. Exit by boat or plane is not allowed.

The rockets being fired by Hamas are also a war crime, in that they’re fired indiscriminately at civilian populations. Yet the imbalance between the rockets being fired by Hamas and the response by Israel are starkly reflected in the casualty figures, which show that Israel’s response is utterly out of proportion to the threat it faces. Reportedly – at the most generous estimate – just under 70 Israelis have been killed by rocket fire from Palestinian territory in the last 14 years. Almost three times that many Palestinians have killed in Gaza by Israeli air strikes in the past week alone – and according to the UN, civilians account for 77 per cent of these casualties. Reportedly, one third of the casualties have been children. By contrast, there have been no Israeli deaths reported since the Israeli air strikes began a week ago.

The strategic purpose of this latest offensive has had to do with a change in the nature of the rockets being fired by Hamas. In the past, the “Qassem” rockets” available to Hamas were small, fairly innocuous weapons, with a range of only about 10 kilometres. The Israeli fear is that Hamas has – or may have – access to large numbers of more powerful rockets able to reach large Israeli cities.

According to the Stratfor think tank, which is well connected to Israeli sources, the Israeli air bombardment is a prelude (or an alternative) to a ground offensive aimed at finding and dismantling those larger rockets. At present, Israeli defence forces reportedly do not know for sure whether Hamas – in the event of a ground invasion – might fire all of its arsenal, all at once into Israel. Here’s Stratfor’s conclusion:

At this moment, we know for certain that Israel is bombing the Gaza strip and has amassed a force sufficient to initiate ground operations but has not done so. Hamas has not fired a saturation attack, assuming it could, but has forced Israel to assume that such an attack is possible, and that its Iron Dome defensive system would be overwhelmed by the numbers. The next move is Israel’s. We can assume there are those in the Israeli command authority arguing that the Gaza strip rockets will be fired at some point, and must be eliminated now, and others arguing that without better intelligence the likelihood of casualties and of triggering a saturation launch is too high.

Thus, the air strikes have continued. A ceasfire is newo being mooted.

Journalism Under Fire, Again
The human rights situation in Burma is getting better, right? Not really. A group of journalists have been sentenced to 10 years of hard labour for simply doing their job. They had reported that the regime was making chemical weapons, apparently in collusion with China.

A provincial court in Myanmar on Thursday sentenced the head of a weekly newspaper and four of its journalists to 10 years in prison and hard labor for publishing a report that said a vast and secretive government factory was designed to produce chemical weapons.

Burmese journalists said the jail terms were a major blow to recently won news media freedoms in the country after five decades of censorship and persecution. The five people sentenced Thursday in Pakokku Township Court included four reporters and the chief executive of the Unity journal, which closed in June partly because of the expense related to the case…

Nor has this been an isolated incident of media suppression and intimidation:

The case comes amid concerns among journalists here that the government, which is led by former military officers, is reverting to tactics of intimidation toward the news media. The Special Branch of the police force, a unit feared during military rule, has visited the newsrooms of a number of publications in recent weeks and asked to see financial records. A journalist for the Democratic Voice of Burma, a Burmese online news site, was jailed earlier this year for trespassing and disturbing the work of a civil servant.

“Clearly, real press freedom remains a distant dream for Burma, where the government still gets to decide what is fit to print, and who has the right to inform (or misinform) the public,” said a commentary in the Irrawaddy, a news website, after Thursday’s sentences were announced.

Everything’s… Awesome
Don’t know if the government has chosen this bit of Tegan and Sara consumerist satire from The Lego Movie as its election campaign song yet, but it really should. Satire, schmatire – this is annoyingly catchy!

Have you heard the news, everyone’s talking
Life is good ’cause everything’s awesome
Lost my job, it’s a new opportunity
More free time for my awesome community

Everything is better when we stick together
Side by side, you and I, gonna win forever, let’s party forever
We’re the same, I’m like you, you’re like me, we’re all working in harmony

Blue skies, bouncy springs
We just named two awesome things
A Nobel prize, a piece of string


You know what’s awesome? EVERYTHING!

ENDS

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    1. 16 Responses to “Gordon Campbell on the shonky Police statistics, and the Israeli air strikes on Gaza”

    2. By Grump on Jul 15, 2014 | Reply

      There’s an awful picture on Scoop today in the latest story from Julie Webb Pullman in Gaza. A man is carrying the body of a little girl, but her head is off. He’s staring down at where it should be while others look on. It’s given me the horrors alright, and I started wondering why there wasn’t some kind of warning.

      How first-world is that? I wished there was some ‘early warning system’ for seeing a photo. Maybe the NZ Israeli Embassy should organise some sort of leaflet drop.

    3. By Andrew on Jul 15, 2014 | Reply

      Grump – sorry about your digestion, but that’s what war actually looks like. Surgical strikes – yeah, right.
      If the media weren’t so gutless, they’d be calling the missile strike on a disabled home where people CAN’T evacuate quickly exactly what it is – shooting fish in a barrel. Wanton, pathological evil.
      That the Drone King parrots the Israeli line that “they have a right to self defense” is worse. There is absolutely no such right under international law for an occupied territory. If they let the Palestinians have an actual state, then yes, such a right would exist. But no, that’s not possible..

    4. By Gerald on Jul 15, 2014 | Reply

      Andrew, Spewing the same old drivel about giving Palestinians??( there is no such people, they are Arabs, and they have a country, it is called Jordan)Their??land would cease the murderous activities of these gutless Arabs is what? Supposed to inform or just regurgitate the same lies were are incessantly bombarded with from UN,(a joke of course, never have been united except to criticize Israel) and the rest of the compliant MSM. If New Zealand were to suffer ceaseless rocket attacks would not our Govt. respond, or for that matter any other country? Do Gazan Arabs care where their rockets fall. NO! Do Israelis detonate murderous human bombs inside cafes,buses or any other dozens of public places? NO! Has Israel made numerous concessions to the supposed Palestinians? YES! Have Palestinians ever made concessions to Israel? NO! I think you are in desperate need of some genuine history lessons, but given your post on this forum, I doubt the truth would ever convince you. You are not only mistaken but willingly ignorant. Like so many others, you wallow in ignorance, while being entirely uninterested in learning the truth. What a sad little, mentally, man you are!

    5. By Andrew on Jul 15, 2014 | Reply

      Er, wow. What rock was THAT hiding under..!

    6. By Steve on Jul 15, 2014 | Reply

      I like how Gordon points out that this conflict is not between Israel and the Palestinians – but between Israel and Hamas (among other groups). I think this is a point that Julie Webb-Pullman fails to understand (despite her living in Gaza). I agree that Israel’s retaliation is somewhat disproportionate but I disagree that it is unnecessary.

      My main view on this matter is that the real enemy of internationalism and peace in this conflict is Hamas (both for the mostly innocent people living in Gaza and for Israel). I do not for a second believe that Israeli reaction to Hamas is targeted at causing harm to innocent people but I do believe it is very often negligent. I am also certain that Hamas deliberately uses religious, medical and educational facilities as shelter and this is abhorrent and in violation of the Geneva Convention.

      Obviously, if Hamas were to engage with Israel in an open field all would be over in a matter of hours – this is not an excuse for hiding bombs amongst children.

      I am personally an advocate of 67 boarders but I do believe that Israel has an important place to play in the middle east. In particular, it is the only country in the region where anyone (including approx 1.6m Arabs) can vote and have access to free education, medical care, can sue the ruling party & its ministers, & where women have at least some semblance of equality & where same-sex-couples can marry & where one can determine to have faith in any god(s) or no god at all. But that is a totally seperate argument – however it does add colour to Israel’s intentions & actions.

    7. By Ellie on Jul 15, 2014 | Reply

      Gerald, Seek treatment, soon. Then you may see the truth when it jumps up and bites you.
      Q. How many Palestinians do the Israelis have to kill to defend the indefensible.

    8. By awryly on Jul 15, 2014 | Reply

      One has to ask where the Audit Office is in all of this. In my experience it routinely fails its basic responsibilities. I would expect this is politically driven. “Don’t look. There is stuff we don’t want you to find “

    9. By Andrew Nichols on Jul 15, 2014 | Reply

      Ah yes our new friends the Burmese back in the fold, sanctions removed. Silly generals had no idea all the West was wanting from them was to release the poster girl, Aung San Su Kyi that rockstar of human rights (not Rohingya though) Now there’s an avalanche of western investment pouring in along with the usual nauseating spectacle of the ususl suspects in western politics shaking hands with the generals – still firmly in charge and still doing just what they’ve been doing unbroken since 1962.

    10. By Grump on Jul 16, 2014 | Reply

      @Gerald

      Does Israel detonate bombs in cafes, schools, residential houses and hospitals? Yes, they have done so in the last week.
      Have the Palestinians made any concessions to Israel? Yes – Israel. Oh, and actually offered plenty of the annexed land as well, only to be refused.
      Do Gazans care where “their” rockets fall? I didn’t realise the little girl in question had rockets – Hamas does not equate with “Gazans”.

      And part of the reason we hate these actions of Israel is because we have Israeli friends – Benyamin has said “all options are on the table”, which means anything is permissible, presumably that goes both ways. He said it, turn your outrage to him.

    11. By swordfish on Jul 16, 2014 | Reply

      Gerald appears to recognise the truth by the way it comes with an Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs logo stamped on it.

      He reminds me of what George Orwell had to say about the hypocrisy and wilful blindness of ultra-nationalists.

      Let’s cut to the chase: Israel has brutally occupied internationally-recognised Palestinian territory for the last 47 years. It has used that violent and illegal occupation to slowly but systematically ethnically-cleanse the Palestinian population into smaller and smaller enclaves. They’ve created a living hell for the Palestinians who, Gerald me old love, have a damn sight more right to be there than, for example, people from New York’s Lower East Side, descended from Poles, Germans, Russians etc and who have little if any genetic relationship to the original Jewish population of Palestine (who, incidently, have been (reluctantly) shown by Israeli archeologists to have lived in multi-ethnic states – no doubt including the ancestors of todays Palestinians – rather than the fictional ‘Kingdom of David’ that you’ve obviously been inculcated with).

      You’re arrogance astounds me. While at the same time closely reflecting the bigoted Israeli mindset that has caused this whole situation.

    12. By Elyse on Jul 16, 2014 | Reply

      @Gerald

      your racism is showing

    13. By Joe Wylie on Jul 16, 2014 | Reply

      “Gerald’s” semi-literate rant is pretty typical of the apartheid South Africa and Rhodesia apologist nonsense that was common in letters to the editor back in the day.

    14. By Aaron on Jul 16, 2014 | Reply

      Gerald… You have taken the first step by finding scoop on the web. May it enlighten your world view point further, thus opening your eyes to the Israeli propaganda your head is filled with at present.

    15. By Steve on Jul 18, 2014 | Reply

      Aaron. Please note that Scoop is loaded with propaganda from Hamas and its elk (most notable Julie Webb-Pullman). What is needed most is an impartial account of the situation that takes into account the horrors committed by either side of the conflict and that notes the well established fact that the primary victims of Hamas (and Israel vicariously) are the innocent people of Palestine (of which there are hundreds of thousands).

      The great thing about Scoop is that it contains aggregated news and accounts from both sides. The most important thing is to read as many of these accounts as possible. While it is good to read the views of JWP, it’s important to acknowledge her bias. One can then read the more neutral reports by the US State Department, the United Nations, the Greens and Mr Campbell. And then, verging to the other extreme – you can look at the press releases of Israel. ALL of these, in my view, contain important elements of the story.

      1) Hamas provides a picture of the damage being inflicted on the Palestinian people (for whom they do not care). They do such in a way which doesn’t mention their militant theocratic philosophy nor their blatant and irrational hatred of the JEWS. For, it is sadly true that they are an anti-Semitic group primarily.

      2) The NGOs and foreign state departments provide cautious accounts of how the immediate conflict should be ceased. These are, for the most part, directed at BOTH Israel and Hamas.

      3) The Israeli cables note the Israeli Government’s bottom line and the concessions that Hamas can make to bring about ceasefire.

      What’s more, one should consider that Israel IS a secular democratic state where the rule of law is observed. There are ~1.6 million Israeli citizens who are Muslims & who have the same rights and privileges under Israeli law as Jews. The same cannot be said about Jews living in Palestine.

      Although this matter goes beyond the current situation, and is NOT an excuse for Israeli negligence or recklessness in conducting military operations – it is important because it reinforces Israel’s argument that it is not motivated to destroy Muslims in accordance with the often touted and readily misunderstood concept of “Zionism”.

      GRUMP = the JWP/ Hamas faction

      GERALD = the minority faction inside Israel which calls for a “Jewish State”

      GORDON = the informed observer who understands the fundamental evils of all sides and comments on the immediate situation at hand – placing the immediate complicity in Israel but wisely that Hamas are war criminals but do not represent the innocent people in Gaza.

    16. By Mary Brown on Jul 22, 2014 | Reply

      Gordon you say …”a change in the nature of the rockets being fired by Hamas.”.

      What I think is more important information that you have left out is, where do the rockets come from? Who sells them to the Israeli’s? I’ll give you one guess…. that is if you don’t already know.

    17. By Grump on Jul 23, 2014 | Reply

      @Steve

      A pretty poor attempt at ‘neutrality’ or ‘balance’ there, if that’s what you were aiming for:

      Describing the civilian deaths in Gaza, and Hamas’ opinion that they are massacres, is not actually propaganda – it’s just fact. JWP is just reporting, as unpalatable as it is.

      I don’t know if you’re trying to be inflammatory, but saying I = “Hamas faction” is a pretty offensive straw-man position. My posts sympathise with the Palestinian citizens, in particular the children who have been deliberately (or grossly negligently if you must) targeted. I hate the Hamas ideology as much as anyone, so I say again: HAMAS IS NOT GAZA. Israel keeps saying it doesn’t want any Palestinian civilian casualties, but the missiles, tanks, air strikes and ground troops indicate otherwise.

      Your ‘minority faction’ within Israel that Gerald subscribes to is a bit of a smokescreen too – Israel’s government is democratically elected, which means the majority is pro what they are doing, just like ours. To say “Israel” when you mean the IDF or the Knesset is therefore accurate. Israel’s position is that Hamas is illegitimate, therefore the civilians aren’t responsible by definition. Israel is supposedly our ally – therefore, it also represents us to a degree. And I’m not happy about it.

      Further, Israel is not just a secular democracy (secular surely in its loosest sense) but an occupying state, in contravention of international law – not disputed. It consistently says it has the “right to protect its borders”. The clue is right there in that phrase: protect not invade; borders not hospitals, schools, kids on the beach.

      Lastly, think about Benyamin’s phrase “all options are on the table”. A nuclear armed, chemical armed, hugely funded, rogue military state. This should scare everyone. ‘All options’ literally means anything you can think of. And they know full well that if they mean it, then the opposition will assume it has just as much right to “all options”.

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