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David Matas

David Matas's Remarks Delivered for Magen David Adom : Speaking truth to Jim Manly

by David Matas, posted here Nov 29, 2012

( Excerpt of Remarks delivered to Canadian Magen David Adom Annual General Meeting, Montreal, Quebec, 27 October 2012)
Jim Manly, former NDP Member of Parliament, spent three days this past week in Israeli detention for attempting to breach an Israeli blockade of Gaza. He arrived back at Vancouver this Thursday, two days ago. Manly was aboard the ship Merchant Vessel (MV) Estelle along with politicians from Europe. Israel naval vessels stopped the ship 30 nautical miles from Gaza. The Government of Israel detained and then deported the passengers, including Manly. 
The Government of Canada issued a statement that Canada recognizes Israel's legitimate security concerns which prompted the blockade and invited those who wanted to provide aid to Gaza to go through established channels. Manly said that the Israeli oppression and violence and robbing the Palestinian people of their right to a decent life is not the way to peace and security for Israel.   He added that, if the Canadian government is a friend of Israel, it should be prepared to speak the truth to Israel.
I have asked to say a few words about Magen David Adom, and if you bear with me, I will do so. But I want to do it in context. I do not claim to be a friend of Jim Manly. All the same I want to try to speak to him the truth.
Hamas, which controls Gaza, is at war with Israel. The war is not about boundaries or Jerusalem or settlements or occupation. The war is straight antisemitism. Indeed, Hamas acknowledges that Israel does not control the Gaza strip. Hamas attacks Israel because of a genocidal desire to kill Jews. 
Hamas is an Arabic acronym for Islamic Resistance Movement. It is also an Arabic word meaning "zeal". The organization was founded in 1987 as an overtly antisemitic organization.


Hamas has been engaged in armed assaults against Israel since 1994 - suicide bombings, rocket and mortar attacks.   The most recent assaults came this past week on Wednesday, while Jim Manly was in Israeli detention for his attempt to breach the Israeli blockade. Hamas terrorists sent 75 rockets and mortars into Israel. A Hamas affiliated militia sent most of the rocket fire. An Israeli officer was seriously wounded and several migrant workers were injured.

It is worth noting the wounding of migrant workers. These workers were not Israeli and not Jewish. Hamas, in their zeal to kill Jews, have no compunction about killing non-Jews.
The Israeli defense force responded with aircraft which targeted four rocket launch squads and a weapons smuggling tunnel. Four Palestinian terrorists were killed.
The assaults by Hamas against Israel have been almost continuous for years. Between the spring of 2001 and 2009 there were over 8,000 rocket and mortar attacks.
Israel can not respond with military force to every single rocket and mortar attack. There are simply too many.
The Israeli response is varied. One component is the blockade, to keep rockets, mortars and other weapons out of Gaza. The truth must be told to Jim Manly that he, by attempting to breach the blockade, is, objectively, realistically, whether he intends it or not, attempting to facilitate the genocide of the Jews.
There may be a temptation to ignore Jim Manly on the basis that paying attention to him is giving him the publicity he seeks, that he is for Hamas a useful idiot. Yet, the Jewish community has learned from experience that we ignore those who incite to genocide and their fellow travellers at our peril. Mass killing, after all, is never the act of sensible people.
Israel asks civilians in areas targeted by rocket and mortar attacks to take cover in bomb shelters. The Government has also closed schools in the region, depriving children, at least temporarily, of an education.
However, the first line of Israel response to Hamas attacks is neither the Israeli defense forces, nor bomb shelters, nor school closings. It is Magen David Adom.
According to Israel law, Magen David Adom is recognized by the Government of Israel as the sole organization entrusted to carry out in Israel the functions assigned by the Geneva Conventions to national societies of the Red Cross or other volunteer aid societies legally recognized and authorized by their Governments[1]. Magen David Adom is then a delivery vehicle for respect in Israel for international humanitarian law.
Magen David Adom receives fees for services at prices fixed by the Government of Israel below cost. The funding gap is met not by the Government of Israel but rather by private donors.
Magen David Adom works with the Israel Defence Forces and Home Front Command on detecting rocket launchings from Gaza and tracking where they land. Organization volunteers and staff then speed to the scene of every Hamas rocket attack. In doing so, they have saved countless lives. When Hamas increased the number of rockets they were firing at Israel in December 2008, Magen David Adom responded immediately by assembling a fleet of 200 fully manned emergency rescue vehicles and locating them in the region. During 'Operation Cast Lead' in late December 2008 and January 2009, Magen David Adom dispatched teams to every location that Hamas was targeting, treating and evacuating casualties. 
During Operation Cast Lead, Magen David Adom operated in Gaza as well as Israel. Many wounded and sick Gazans were transported into Israel through the Erez Crossing. The agency operated 600 ambulances in Gaza to help the wounded in the area.
Today Magen David Adom can not enter Gaza to help the sick and wounded. But it is not the Israelis who are stopping them. It is Hamas. If a Magen David Adom ambulance entered Gaza, Hamas militias would attack it, putting its medical personnel at risk. When it comes to breaching the blockade for true humanitarian reasons, this is how Hamas responds.
Hamas attacks. Israel, in self defense, responds. Jim Manly decontextualizes the response from the attack. He makes no mention of the never ending assaults of Hamas in Israel. Instead, he makes the Israeli self defense response seem to be gratuitous acts of cruelty. 
The oppression and violence and robbing the Palestinian people of their right to a decent life which Manly decries surely exists, but it does not come from Israel. It comes from Hamas. 
Moreover, because Manly has joined in common cause with Hamas, it now comes, in part, from him. By joining in war propaganda, hate propaganda and incitement to terrorism against Israel, Manly spurs further Hamas attacks, further Israeli responses, further Hamas oppression and violence and robbing the Palestinian people of their right to a decent life.
I lament the death of anyone, including the four Palestinian terrorists killed this week by Israeli defense forces in response to the Hamas militia rocket and mortar attacks. The Merchant Vessel Estelle with Jim Manly aboard, showing support for Hamas and attempting to pierce the blockade, arrived shortly before the rocket and mortar attacks which led to the death of those four Palestinians. Objectively the efforts of Jim Manly and his colleagues, because of the support they gave to the genocidal aims of Hamas, have to be considered to have played a part in spurring the rocket and mortar attacks which led to those regrettable deaths.
Jim Manly professes humanitarian instincts. He has a way of acting on those instincts, without fanning the flames of war, of making a real humanitarian contribution.   He can do that by making a donation to Magen David Adom. I challenge Mr. Manly: show your humanitarian sincerity by doing that, by giving to Magen David Adom at least as much money as you spent in trying to breach the Israeli blockade of genocidal, terrorist Hamas.
David Matas is an international human rights lawyer based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He is a member of the board of Canadian Magen David Adom and senior honorary counsel to B'nai Brith Canada.

    [1] Magen David Adom Law 5710/1950 As amended 5736/1976
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