Col Richard Kemp received a standing ovation from over 400 delegates at the Fed Conference on Sunday. Below is a transcription of portions of his Sunday speech – and below that, the full text of a speech he delivered to the Australian JNF last November.
During question time after Col Kemp had spoken and received a thunderous applause, Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein gave an impromptu thanks to Kemp on behalf of SA community for what he has done for the Jewish people. “Your integrity and honesty and courage is inspiring,” said Rabbi Goldstein, “we are eternally grateful.” Jews everywhere have a great debt of gratitude to Kemp.
Rabbi Goldstein told Kemp that he was showing the world - and standing up with incredible courage and integrity. “It gives me such hope and encouragement. The fact that you have stood up against the whole world and defended us is amazing.”
It takes a lot of courage to stand up for truth and justice, said a clearly moved Rabbi Goldstein, “and we thank you for that. It is a debt of gratitude we can never repay.” The Chief Rabbi thanked Fed Chairman Avrom Krengel: “It’s a privilege to be part of all this,” he said – to another round of thunderous applause.
Transcript from the speech by Col Richard Kemp to the SAZF conference:
The launching of this conference was spectacular and in particular the speeches. I was inspired by the words of Alan Dershowitz and John Howard, however. I feel slightly sheepish as a British soldier coming here to speak at a Jewish gathering. I have stolen some of the finest soldiers from SA.
Secondly I am not Jewish I am a Catholic. At this time of year as we approach Easter there is a prayer that we say on Good Friday – we go through a list of different people that we need to bring into our fold e.g. the Russians and we even pray for the conversion of Jews. It is something that I tell my Jewish friends about.
Increasingly dangerous global conspiracy. David Ben Gurion declared Israel to be an independent state. Resolution 181. Within hours the armed forces of Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq fell upon the fledgling nation. Now in 2011 Israel has the most powerful armed forces in the Middle East. Even the most self-deceiving enemy cannot realistically believe that the countries destruction can be achieved.
They have gradually evolved three new tactics. Iran – the pursuit of nuclear weapons – wiping Israel off the map. Second – asymmetric conflict – suicide bombings, hit and run operations, spreading terror throughout Israel’s terror and seeking to lure her defence forces to turn against her. Techniques that fit perfectly into the third – a concerted conspiracy of propaganda against Israel’s existence.
Israel is so evil that is has no right to exist -when that idea becomes an acceptable mainstream acceptable argument in our society. It is no surprise that such a campaign has such popularity and support.
What is truly shocking is the attraction that this propaganda has gained in the West.
I am going to focus on the military aspects of delegitimisation.
Torture in Iran is institutionalized and widespread and they hang homosexuals up by cranes.
1.2 million Tibetans have been killed under Chinese rule.
Half a million men slaughtered in Ruanda.
Tens of thousands killed in Chechnia.
Since its formation, the only country to have ever been specifically condemned is Israel. While continuing to neglect the rights of 350 million citizens of the Middle East.
I gave evidence at the United Nations Human Rights Commission – Judge Richard Goldstone’s report.
I said that during its operation in Gaza the Israelis did more to defend the rights of civilians than any other army in the history of warfare.
The commanders of the IDF who planned and implemented the operation had a very clear understanding. There was an absolute necessity to minimize civilian casualties.
Hamas lured IDF troops to kill their own people. In these circumstances the IDF commanders took unprecedented measures to protect civilians.
They took great risks to pinpoint enemy positions while minimizing harm to the civilian population. If any of these intelligence agents had been captured their fate would have been horrific. Hamas introduced crucifixion as a means of executing spies.
The IDF allowed huge amounts of humanitarian aid into Gaza and announced a cease fire for 3 hours every day. This gave Hamas time to redeploy and re-equip.
Israelis dropped a million leaflets warning people of the attack. Despite all this many civilians were killed and wounded. Hamas were deliberately trying to lure the IDF to kill their own people.
In every army there will always be bad soldiers who go against orders.
Of the 1300 deaths in the Gaza conflict, Hamas says 700 were fighters and the rest civilians.
The death of a civilian is a grave tragedy. A study published by the UN shows that the ratio to civilian to combat is by the far the lowest in the history of warfare. In Kosovo it was 4 to 1.
The IDF is of course far from perfect. But their work to reduce the risk of casualties of civilians – would not be contemplated by any other army anywhere in the world.
Israel is always in the wrong. The US and UK and other NATO countries attract no condemnation only Israel.
The IHH is a radical Islamic organization. It is anti-Israeli and anti-American. The IHH played an important role to carry out a mass casualty attack at Los Angeles International Airport, an attack without justification.
We have to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. I am sure many of us have criticism of Israel and its army but there is a huge difference between justifiable criticism and deligitimisation.
I have been to Auschwitz – it is haunting.
There is also a glorious light there flaunting oversized flags of Israel.
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SPEECH BY COLONEL RICHARD KEMP TO JNF IN AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 2010
The nexus of globalism and violent jihad have brought to this world a phenomenon that is entirely new: that of “global insurgency”.
This global insurgency is inspired by Usama bin Laden and Al Qaida. What is their goal?
It is to re-establish a global Islamic empire – or Caliphate – governing vast swathes of territory with an oppressive rule of law based entirely on fundamentalist Islamist principles. Principles that run counter to virtually every inch of hard-fought progress and enlightenment enjoyed by the Western world today.
This regressive vision demands a complete removal of all western influence from the Islamic world – the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and South East Asia. And the overthrow of regimes that do not adhere to Al Qaida’s prehistoric brand of Islamism.
Which is all nations. In Bin Laden’s eyes, all are apostate, none adequately observe the law of Islam – including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and Indonesia.
Bin Laden does not delude himself to think that the re-establishment of the Caliphate can be achieved in his life-time. Or in the life-time of his children. He knows he faces a long and tough struggle. He sees Al Qaida’s role not as establishing and running the Caliphate. He sees Al Qaida’s role as to create the conditions over many years in which his dream – our nightmare – can eventually become reality.
Al Qaida’s role is killing. Killing on a mass scale. Killing Western infidels. Killing apostate Muslims. Killing to create hate, fear, civil war. Killing to bring about the economic and physical collapse of the West. Killing to set the West in ever deepening and ever widening conflict with the whole of the Islamic world.
How is the Al Qaida killing machine organized? Bin Laden and his central terror network is in Pakistan. From there they seek to give inspiration, guidance and direction to the global movement. They seek also to plan and to launch large-scale deadly terror strikes against the West. They seek to re-establish a base for themselves in Afghanistan. And they seek to violently destroy the government of Pakistan.
We may thank the United States of America that Al Qaida centre’s ability to organize, plan and communicate has been severely curtailed by an intensive campaign of accurate drone strikes targeting their leadership. Drone strikes that have forced Al Qaida central onto the defensive and into a struggle for their own survival. Drone strikes that – contrary to popular belief – are conducted with the full authorisation and assistance of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Without whose intelligence to enable accurate targeting these strikes would be far less effective.
Elsewhere Al Qaida can be seen today as a world-wide franchise. Often building on local groups with a local Islamist agenda that become inspired to spread their wings and develop into terrorist networks with international ambition and international reach.
Such as Al Qaida in the Islamic Peninsula. Forced out of Saudi Arabia, this increasingly deadly and sophisticated group is now based in Yemen. They were responsible for the failed underwear bomber that attempted to bring down an airliner headed to the US on Christmas Day 2009. They were responsible for an attempt on the life of the Saudi interior minister the previous August. And they were responsible for the plot to bring down aircraft flying to Chicago two weeks ago with bombs concealed in printers.
Pakistan-based Lashkar-e Tayiba is another such group. They evolved from Afghan mujahideen into insurgents fighting for Muslim independence in Kashmir. They conducted the Mumbai attacks, focusing on western tourists and on Jewish targets - a significant switch from jihad against India to international jihad.
Tonight, Europe is on high alert against an attack plan that is believed to be under way to attack capital cities across the continent - certainly inspired if not actually directed by Lashkar-e Tayiba.
Closer to home we have Indonesia-centred Jemaah Islamiya, the Al Qaida linked and inspired group that was responsible for the Bali bombings in 2002 and 2005 and the bombings in Jakarta in 2009 that killed so many of the 100 Australians who have died in terror strikes overseas.
And of course Jemaah Islamiya has shown continued intent on attacking in Australia herself. Including an attack plan to strike at the Israeli embassy in Canberra. And separate attack plans against railway stations and sporting events, and against an Australian Army base in Sydney.
The insurgents that Australia, the US and the UK face in Iraq and Afghanistan are different to the insurgents faced by Israel. Al Qaida, Jaish al Mahdi and a range of other militant groups in Iraq. In Afghanistan: Al Qaida again – and the Taliban - itself a horribly complex, interweaving and overlapping tapestry.
Meanwhile the Israeli Defence Force faces Hizballah and Hamas in Lebanon and Gaza. As I say, they are different. But they are also linked. They are linked by the complex network of international jihad: and by its transfer of expertise, skills, tactics and technology, using the world wide web, remote training camps and easy global travel.
They are linked also by the pernicious influence, support and sometimes direction of Iran. It was Iran that formed Lebanese Hizballah back in the 80s.And to this day funds and directs it as an instrument of its own foreign policy. Iran has developed Hizballah into one of the most deadly terrorist organizations in the world.
Hamas also receives support from Iran. And not just support. Whenever there has been any sign of wavering by Hamas - or other anti-Israeli groups – Iran has moved in to stiffen their resolve, often using Hizballah to do its muscle work.
Similar Iranian support enabled Jaish al Mahdi to attack and harry the combined military strength of the US and UK in Iraq – where they were responsible for numerous American and British casualties. Iran continues to provide such support to Shia militias in Iraq today.
We know that the Al Qaida management board, plus at least two of Bin Laden’s wives and a son, has been based in Iran since 2001 when its members escaped from Afghanistan. Since this Al Qaida presence was discovered by Western intelligence, the Tehran regime has consistently protested that they are confined to their homes and not able to operate.
But during testimony to the American Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, the head of US Central Command revealed recently that Tehran is letting Al Qaida leaders travel freely between Pakistan and Afghanistan effectively using Iranian territory as a safe haven while permitting terrorists to hold meetings to plan attacks against US and other coalition targets.
Taliban leaders have also been boasting recently that they have received significant training and resourcing from Iran in their fight against NATO and the Afghan government. A fact now also confirmed by the US high command.
And of course we shouldn’t forget that Hizb Islami, the second largest insurgent group in Afghanistan today, has its main bases across the Afghan border in Iran. These diverse groups, with their differing goals and strategies, share a common characteristic. They are trained and equipped above all for warfare fought in residential areas - from among the civilian population.
In conflicts in Lebanon, Iraq and in the towns and villages of southern Afghanistan, the civilian population are routinely exploited in deliberate and flagrant violation of international laws and reasonable norms of civilised behaviour. And in Gaza last year, during Operation Cast Lead, civilians became a strategic weapon in the hands of Hamas – deliberately putting their own people’s lives on the line.
They used the non-combatant population of Gaza as human shields, relying on the Israeli military’s adherence to international law, and its own moral codes, to protect them from harm.
Hamas of course deployed suicide attackers including women and children. Women and children were also used to fight, collect intelligence and ferry arms and ammunition between battles.
Hamas used schools, private houses and other legally protected public buildings, sometimes deliberately filled with civilians, as fighting positions. And despite the international legal protection afforded to religious buildings, they frequently used mosques as weapon stores and strong points.
The Australian and British Armies face this same situation every single day in Afghanistan too. The Taliban force boys – often as young as 14 – to throw high explosive grenades at our troops, knowing British and Australian soldiers will not shoot children.
Civilians are forced to move in front of Taliban fighters attacking Nato troops, into the line of fire, to provide a protective shield for the fighters. Literally to take the bullets for the Taliban fighters.
All of this of course is in flagrant breach of international law. But it would be a grave error to believe that jihadist groups ignore the international laws of armed conflict. They don’t. They study them with care and they understand them well. They know that an Australian, British, American or Israeli commander and his men are bound by international law and the rules of engagement that flow from it.
They then do their utmost to exploit what they view as one of their enemy’s main weaknesses: humanity. Their very modus operandi is built on the correct assumption that Western armies will abide by the rules.
How do civilised armies get around these tactics, and prevail against the insurgents? In particular, avoiding killing innocent civilians when that is exactly what the enemy is trying to lure them to do. And of course in counterinsurgency, where winning over the hearts and minds of the people is so critically important, it is vital to absolutely minimise civilian deaths. As General David Petraeus, NATO commander in Afghanistan, recognises in his edicts to avoid civilian deaths at virtually all costs – you have to go even beyond the rules of war, sometimes putting your own troops’ lives at greater risk.
And this is what Australian, British and American troops do every single day in Afghanistan. The commanders of the Israeli Defence Forces who planned and implemented Operation Cast Lead also understood this necessity – they had much experience of the fighting tactics of Hamas and Hizballah.
They took unprecedented measures to minimise civilian casualties. The Israeli intelligence operation in the run up to Cast Lead was huge, complex and fraught with danger. Covert agents, predominantly Arabs working for Israel, operated tirelessly to allow the IDF the best possible idea of what faced them in the urban areas.
Make no mistake: if captured, the penalties for these agents are heavy. Hamas reintroduced crucifixion as a method of executing its prisoners. Torture is routine. Why then was this effort made by the Israelis? Because to fight a pinpoint war on the ground – particularly against an enemy such as Hamas – you need the best possible intelligence to deal as effectively as possible with the enemy fighters and their leaders, and to make sure the minimum damage is done to the civilian population.
When possible the Israeli Defence Forces gave at least four hours’ notice to civilians to leave areas targeted for attack: an action that handed a distinct advantage to Hamas. Attack helicopter pilots had total discretion to abort a strike if there was too great a risk of civilian casualties in the area. And many missions that could have taken out Hamas military capability were cancelled because of this.
During the conflict the IDF allowed huge amounts of humanitarian aid into Gaza. This sort of task is regarded by military commanders as risky and dangerous at the best of times. To mount such operations, to deliver aid virtually into your enemy’s hands is to the military tactician, normally quite unthinkable. But the IDF were willing to take on those risks.
In the latter stages of Cast Lead, the IDF unilaterally announced a daily three-hour cease fire: knowing of course that this would give Hamas vital time and space to regroup,re-equip and re-deploy for future attacks. That of course added to the danger to their own Israeli troops.
The Israelis dropped over 900,000 leaflets warning the population of impending attacks to allow them to leave designated areas. They phoned over 30,000 Palestinian households in Gaza, urging them in Arabic to leave homes where Hamas might have stashed weapons or be preparing to fight. Similar messages were passed in Arabic on Israeli radio broadcasts – warning the civilian population of forthcoming operations.
Australian, American and British forces operating in Afghanistan have adopted similar measures to reduce civilian casualties while fighting an enemy that uses similar tactics. Some perhaps borrowed from the Israelis’ experience.
But despite Israel’s extraordinary measures, as we know only too well, a number of innocent civilians were killed and wounded. That is undoubtedly the case. But it was not the butchery of the civilian population that has been gleefully trumpeted by international human rights, aid groups and governments.
In fact, the Hamas interior minister, Fathi Hammad, recently gave an interview in which he admitted for the first time that the majority of deaths inflicted by Israel during Cast Lead were combatants not civilians. This is contrary to Hamas’s previous position, in which it has claimed that the majority of casualties were innocent civilians. It is also contrary to the strident and repeated assertions of so many international groups, who have claimed the same thing time and time again.
The estimates of civilian versus combatant figures put forward now by Hamas are virtually the same as the estimates Israel has made since the start. For example, 250 Palestinian policemen were killed on the first day of the Gaza war. The UN and other international bodies screeched that these were innocent civilians. Hamas now admits they were in fact Hamas combatants and members of armed militia groups. Something Israel has of course known and said from the start. Something anyone with a shred of military knowledge or understanding of Hamas and Gaza also knew immediately the outrage began.
In light of this new admission from Hamas, Israel now awaits apologies from all the individuals and organizations that have spent the past two years slanderously accusing Israel of the wholesale slaughter of civilians. Israel will have a long wait.
But still there were unintentional civilian deaths. Every experienced military commander knows that no matter how sophisticated your targeting, no matter how high-tech your equipment, no matter how careful your planning, the ever-present friction and chaos of military operations means there will always be mistakes in combat. And of course there will always be bad soldiers, who deliberately or through incompetence go against orders.
Like Australian, British and American soldiers, Israel’s forces operate under a strict code of conduct, and are held accountable by the Israeli government. Israel disciplined two senior officers for authorizing the firing of high explosive artillery shells that landed in a populated area in Gaza, in violation of IDF orders.
Hamas fighters are of course subject to no such restraint or to any accounting for their actions. There is no equivalence between Israel’s soldiers and Hamas’s fighters in the field of human rights, any more than there is in their vastly different military capabilities.
Like every army – including other western armies – the IDF is of course far from perfect. But their work to reduce the risk of civilian casualties in Gaza went well beyond the requirements of the Geneva Convention, to an extent that would not even be considered by most other armies around the world – least of all in many of the countries that have most vocally condemned Israel at the United Nations.
As I have explained, the campaigns fought by Israel, the US and the UK have several common factors. But there is also a major difference. In many countries around the world – not least in Europe – the start point is that Israel is always in the wrong.
Australia, the US, the UK and other NATO countries, even when themselves causing the unintentional deaths of innocent civilians, attract no such automatic, almost pavlovian condemnation.
Those states, individuals and international groups that unthinkingly accept or subscribe to this blanket condemnation of Israel risk worsening the global insurgency that we all face. They enable highly questionable reports – such as Judge Goldstone’s UN fact-finding report – to be created and then given
The Goldstone report into the Gaza conflict depended heavily on testimony from the people of the Gaza strip. People who’s suffering, as I have explained, was exploited by Hamas – as a strategic weapon. People who face horrific punishment from Hamas’s thugs if they so much as consider deviating – in private or in public – from the Hamas line.
Full acceptance of the Goldstone report and its findings and interpretations – would effectively make it impossible for states to defend themselves from armed insurgents as long as those insurgents operated from within the civilian population. In his report, Judge Goldstone strongly criticises Israeli action against Hamas fighters positioned in proximity to civilians or civilian installations – even when they were actively carrying out violent attacks against the IDF.
In reaching this conclusion, Goldstone effectively validates the terrorist tactic of hiding behind and exploiting the civilian population - by denying that a state has the right to react. That validation will have been noted around the world, and serves to encourage insurgent groups to follow the Hamas and Taliban line by exploiting civilian populations. It will more than likely lead to an increase in civilian casualties during conflicts.
Yet Goldstone is doubly dangerous. For all its seemingly forensic indictments of Israel and the Israeli Defence Forces’ conduct of the conflict in Gaza, Goldstone himself eventually concluded that, I quote: “If this was a court of law, there would have been nothing proven.” He emphasized that his conclusion that war crimes had been committed was always intended as conditional.
Now nearly two years on – with no shortage of people trying to prove it – I for one have seen nothing to confirm systematic abuse by the Israelis in Gaza. Instead, the evidence that I have seen and the detailed analysis that I have made leads me to believe even more strongly that the evidence that I gave to the United Nations Human Rights Council that during Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defence Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other Army had done previously in the history of warfare.