Gaza War Crimes: A Reminder

Israeli attack on Gaza refugee camp
A Palestinian family rushes from the scene of an Israeli missile strike on a building in the Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 28 December 2008. (Hatem Omar/MaanImages)

Recently, some of us at One Utah have been engaged in a fruitless rhetorical pissing contest with Richard Okelberry (I use R.O. for short). According to R.O. this blog is a “hate group” that ought to be “disbanded and shut down.”

In particular, R.O. claims I am anti-Jewish because I criticized Israel for its merciless, indiscriminate 23-day attack on the people of Gaza last December and January, and equated it with terrorism. He does not know me personally, and I don’t think he has even paid much attention to what I wrote. It was just a cheap smear, an attempt to make unwelcome facts go away by taking a poorly-aimed potshot at one messenger.

These facts are here to stay. The 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict was so one-sided that it’s often referred to as the “Gaza massacre.” An estimated 1,370 or more Palestinians died in the conflict. The Israeli side lost 13 dead, four due to accidental friendly fire.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that the Gaza Strip operation caused a severe humanitarian crisis due to the destruction of livelihoods and infrastructure. More than 50,800 Gazans were left homeless. Even though 80 percent of the population cannot support themselves and are dependent on humanitarian assistance, Israeli continues to maintain a blockade that prevents adequate food and supplies from getting through.

Independent war crimes investigators and journalists have documented sickening horrors that I won’t describe here. The Guardian has a page detailing what’s known so far.

People have a right to get exercised about what they regard as “hate speech,” whether it’s Glenn Beck or some part-time bloggers. Meanwhile, remember B. Traven’s famous admonition:

“This is the real world, muchachos, and you are in it.”

UPDATE: The U.N. Human Rights Council has initiated a formal war crimes investigation of the Gaza operation. The investigation is being led by Richard Goldstone, a widely respected South African judge and former chief U.N. prosecutor of war crimes in Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The impartial investigation will document violations of the Law of Land Warfare by both sides in the conflict.

  1. #1 by Rich Okelberry on April 23, 2009 - 6:09 am

    For the record, Richard Warnick has used OneUtah to purposely Libel me with this essay. He knows full well that it was his publication of a LIST of Israeli-Americans serving in the government that I called Ant-Semitic. Additionally, my opinion that the publication of such a List is Ant-Semitic was reinforced by one of the foremost Jewish Historians in the world Professor Steve Siporin of Utah State University.

    Therefore I am issuing a demand that the management at OneUtah immediately remove this posting and permanently suspend Richard Warnick as an author. Additionally I am asking that a formal public retraction be published both here and in the local printed media serving the Utah area. Failure to comply with this request will hold that owner administrator of OneUtah responsible for the act Libel.

  2. #2 by Becky on April 23, 2009 - 6:48 am

    Is anyone else getting a little worried about our unhinged friend here?

    RO, I had to call the cops on a weird guy who came to my door late last night. The first thing I thought of was you and your strange threats to show up at my house with a camera crew. Seriously, guy, you need to get a grip. People are starting to wonder.

  3. #3 by Shane Smith on April 23, 2009 - 7:00 am

    Becky, I hate to disagree with you, but I am not starting to wonder. I am a long way into the middle of knowing….

    RO, he quotes you, links to your own words, and spends most of the post in showing that war crimes were committed in Gaza. And some how in this you found libel.

    If quoting you is libelous, or damaging to your reputation, then who did the damage? They are your words.

  4. #4 by Rich Okelberry on April 23, 2009 - 7:19 am


    “In particular, R.O. claims I am anti-Jewish because I criticized Israel for its merciless, indiscriminate 23-day attack on the people of Gaza last December and January, and equated it with terrorism.”

    It is not his criticism of Israel that I claim is Anti-Semitic but his republishing of an unfounded list whose source cannot be obtained of Israeli-Americans in the government that point to his Anti-Semitism. Richard Warnick knows this and that is what makes his statement libelous. Also, now that I have pointed it out and requested its removal the owner of OneUtah is now compelled to remove the offending materials or also become subject to the charge of Libel.

  5. #5 by cav, on April 23, 2009 - 7:51 am

    Compelled, demanded, permanently suspend. Jeeze somewhere along the line even Hitler ceased being anti-semite. In this instance, I want to nail the precise instant.

    I hope I’m not fomenting further discord here, but…

  6. #6 by Shane Smith on April 23, 2009 - 7:52 am

    Do you know why he thinks that it is the criticism of Israel you are talking about?

    Because you said it.

    “******* Warnick,
    I tell you what, I will take a moment here shortly and look into your allegations of terroristic threats on the part of Glenn Beck contingent on a bit of quid pro quo.
    In all fairness, Cliff has levied a rather serious charge against me and asked for a retraction after I stated that you in the past had misquoted / taken out of context a source to serve your argument that would have been impossible to make without the alteration in question. I’m certain you probably remember that it was me who caught you in the ruse. So, I would appreciate if you would admit to Cliff and everyone else which incident I am speaking of? (Hint: I believe it involved the definition of terrorism under US Law.) It was your essay so I will let you put up the link to it.”

    You do it again, several times, in the other links he gives.

    But then what do we expect from Rich Okelberry, a man who can look at an article about the pope giving the exact opposite of accurate information to people, and decide that it is religious intolerance to point out that he is either grossly incompetent or lying.

    “Why is it that you seem to be overwhelmingly attracted to issues that involve religion and almost purposely don’t seem to ever have anything good to say about it? Could it be that you are a bigot and therefore such an attraction is at the core of your very being?”

    Since pointing out actual scientific facts disagree with lies told by someone who is a religious leader is in your mind “religious hate speech,” then what is it to point out that a nation is involved in what looks like terrorism?

    Why naturally it is Ant-Semitic!

    “Could it be that you are a bigot and therefore such an attraction is at the core of your very being?”

    RO, I am issuing a demand that you personally immediately stop forum posting here at oneUtah. Additionally I am asking that a formal public retraction be published both here, at your own blog, at the “for the people” blog, and in the local printed media serving the Utah area. Failure to comply with this request will hold that you, Richard Okleberry, responsible for the act Libel.

  7. #7 by Richard Warnick on April 23, 2009 - 8:18 am

    At this point, I think it’s safe to assume some people are baffled about what it is R.O. is so angry about– I know I am.

    R.O. has apparently spent the last three months in a tiff because I equated Israel’s indiscriminate attack on Gaza civilians with terrorism back on January 14.

    At one point in the comment thread, R.O. said, in part:

    As for our allegiance and support for Israel, we cannot be ignorant of the fact that a very large number of Israeli citizens are also U.S. citizens. In fact, those with dual citizenship can fulfill their military obligation in Israel by serving in the U.S. military. Because our ties with Israel run so deep it is not realistic to suspect that we would simply cut off aid with Israel…

    To which, I replied (also quoted here in part):

    Surely you realize that there are around three million Arab-Americans, the vast majority of whom are citizens. That would argue for an even-handed policy.

    Of course, dual citizenship Israelis occupy very prominent positions in Washington government and think tanks. White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten is one. Also on this list: Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Edward Luttwak, Henry Kissinger, Kenneth Adelman, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Elliott Abrams, Ari Fleischer, James Schlesinger, David Frum, and John Bolton.

    Can you imagine if our Department of Homeland Security was headed by a dual citizen of Saudi Arabia?

    As you can see, I was conceding a point that R.O. made in his comment: “As for our allegiance and support for Israel, we cannot be ignorant of the fact that a very large number of Israeli citizens are also U.S. citizens.” I agree, we ought to be cognizant of that fact. It is all too true that the option of cutting aid to Israel, the leading recipient of U.S. military aid, would be nearly impossible under any imaginable circumstances. OTOH, I also believe allegiance to a foreign power by U.S. citizens (especially high-ranking officials) undermines our foreign policy.

    The list was compiled by Dan Eden, writing on I found it with a quick Google search. If R.O. believes that Eden’s list is incorrect, he could say so (R.O.’s friend Professor Steve Siporin, “one of the foremost Jewish Historians in the world,” could not identify any errors on the list). If he believes there is nothing scandalous about top U.S. government officials maintaining dual Israeli citizenship, he could say so. But no, instead of facts or logic, he prefers to resort to name-calling and appeals to authority.

  8. #8 by Shane Smith on April 23, 2009 - 8:22 am

    Rich, you do good work, but I am not actually baffled by his anger. I don’t actually care.

    I just hope it keeps going. It is entertaining as all hell.

  9. #9 by cav, on April 23, 2009 - 8:30 am

    Yes Richard, and that is exactly what I understood you to be getting at when those comments were published. Thankyou.

  10. #10 by Cliff on April 23, 2009 - 8:57 am

    On the subject of antisemitism, any psycho-religious evangelical Zionists reading this should consider that a not insignificant number of Jews worldwide and Israeli Nationals are violently oppose to Israel ‘s recent attacks on Gaza.

    Indeed, some of the rhetoric coming from Jews makes Richard’s critic by comparison about as devastating as a light spring rain on new tulips.

  11. #11 by Uncle Rico on April 23, 2009 - 9:28 am

    Let me see if I’ve got this straight. RO believes that RW (and thus, OneUtah) has defamend him because RW said that RO said that RW was being anti-Semitic for contending that Israel committed atrocities verging on terrorism in connection with its recent incursion into Gaza while in fact, what RO really said was that RW was being anti-Semitic for publishing a list of purported Israeli-Americans serving in the U.S. government? In other words, although RO believes that RW is/was being anti-Semitic, he is upset that RW has misstated the reason why RO believes that RW is/was being anti-Semitic?

    That’s the defamation? Really?

    I’ll say what I said about the pursuit of Cliff for the Glenn Beck comment: Good luck with that.

  12. #12 by Cliff on April 23, 2009 - 10:00 am

    Uncle, I think you’ve summed it up well at least as far as I see it.

    I would add only that Okelberries is claiming that this is also a death threat:

    “I’m interested in decapitating people who think their religious opinions belong in government.

    .I can’t find that comment anywhere. Perhaps RO will provide a link.

  13. #13 by Ken on April 23, 2009 - 10:58 am

    Being against an Israeli military operation is not anti-Semitic; However sharing the Palestinian leadership’s view that Israel should be taken off the map and all Jewish inhabitance “driven into the sea” certainly qualifies as anti-Semitic.

    Palestinians could have had their own homeland a lot time ago, in fact the same time Israel was created a Palestinians homeland was also to be created along side but in an effort for the Palestinians to get it all they ended up getting nothing. This is what blind hatred does, and until the Palestinian authority accepts the fact that Israel exists and stops killing Jews then one day they may get their own homeland and Israel will not be forced to take these drastic actions to defend itself.

    I do sympathize with the average Palestinian who is caught in the middle but ultimately people are responsible for the leadership they choose.

  14. #14 by jasonthe on April 23, 2009 - 2:26 pm

    With all due respect, Rich, you’re going all Mark Towner on this one.

    Not something that bolsters one’s credibility, or reputation as a rational piece of Utah’s political dialog.

    I think I’m still on Towner’s “People to Sue” list for the post that got him a fluff piece in the City Weekly even. Such threats ring hollow and childish, and make it hard to take a person seriously thereafter.

  15. #15 by Rich Okelberry on April 23, 2009 - 5:37 pm


    I wonder what builds more credibility, the truth people say about you or the lies that they spread. Apparently I still have enough credibility that Paul Mero has committed to abdicating his authoring rights here.

    Did this Mark Towner ever follow through on his promise to have you challenged in court? Perhaps it was not his threat to have the law enforced but his failure to do so that made him lose credibility.

    Let me ask you something Jason. You know me… we have spoken at length on more than one occasion on a broad range of subjects… Do I strike you as a radical religious fundamentalist? Do you consider me someone who is an Apocalyptic Zionist? Do me a favor and help me out with a bit of testimonial. Type my last name into the search box here, read some of the things written about me by Cliff Lyon and tell the readers at OneUtah if any of it is remotely accurate, or do they seem to be contrived attacks in an attempt to discredit me?

    Notice that when I called Cliff a Bigot, I followed it with quotes that I believed justified my position. While you may not agree that only a bigot would use the term Jew-boy openly, I do. In fact, I believe that you would have a very hard time finding anyone more than a stones throw from this site that would disagree with me on that. So how about you Jason, stand up and be heard… Do you belief Cliff is a intolerant of religion; or are you going to be willing to put your good name, reputation and credibility on the line defending him?

    Anyway, I personally don’t believe this will require a single filing with the court. People can often be reasonable.

  16. #16 by Cliff on April 23, 2009 - 6:27 pm

    Okelberries (my friend whom I will hug at the first opportunity), Paul Mero would never abdicate his authoring rights at OneUtah for two reasons:

    1. OneUtah is his biggest non-newspaper public forum (Utah Amicus which I ignited, is a close second). The Sutherland Institute site does not have the traffic Paul’s efforts and persitence deserves. Despite the unforgivable shamelessness of his positions and like you, he will always be able to top post here because because OneUtah is the “PUBLIC SQUARE.”

    2. Revocation of his Author rights at OneUtah is against our charter and therefore impossible.

    We have no editorial board and no moderators. The rule is PUBLIC SQUARE!!! I pay the bills ($6.95/mo) because I am stupid or because it is the least I can do for my country.

    Only when you finally get that will you begin to fully appreciate what it means to be a patriotic American and the truth about personal responsibility.

    Be an America. Register here and post at will.

    Let me state for the record that no author or top poster on OneUtah has ever been edited, or moderated in anyway EVER!!!

  17. #17 by Shane Smith on April 24, 2009 - 6:30 am

    “Let me state for the record that no author or top poster on OneUtah has ever been edited, or moderated in anyway EVER!!!”

    Where I a less human, I would take that as a challenge…..

    “Apparently I still have enough credibility that Paul Mero has committed to abdicating his authoring rights here.”

    Is that something you want to share and be proud of? Really?

  18. #18 by unlikely stats on April 24, 2009 - 9:24 am

    “Let me state for the record that no author or top poster on OneUtah has ever been edited, or moderated in anyway EVER!!!”

    This is a bald faced lie, and for any intelligent person the hyperbole with which Cliff states it is the clue to his dissembling.

    “Never believe anything, until it is officially denied”. Otto von Bismarck.

  19. #19 by Cliff on April 24, 2009 - 10:09 am

    I didn’t say we have never moderated a comment Glenn Hoefer (Unlikely). I said top poster/Author.

    As everyone knows Glenn you have been moderated and banned several times frankly for your own protection. As you know, you can get pretty vicious with your personal attacks on people….and you represent the ONLY subject of moderation in the history of OneUtah (a special distinction).

    But be assured, the few comments of yours which I have deleted did not constitute anything remotely resembling an idea, thought, position, statement or information of relevance outside of our unfortunate personal history.

  20. #20 by cav on April 24, 2009 - 10:26 am

    ”’ Indian business students snap up copies of Mein Kampf
    Sales of Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler’s autobiography and apologia for his anti-semitism, are soaring in India where business students regard the dictator as a management guru..

    “Students are increasingly coming in asking for it and we’re happy to sell it to them,” said Sohin Lakhani, owner of Mumbai-based Embassy books who reprints Mein Kampf every quarter and shrugs off any moral issues in publishing the book.
    “They see it as a kind of success story where one man can have a vision, work out a plan on how to implement it and then successfully complete it”.

  21. #21 by Richard Warnick on April 24, 2009 - 12:23 pm


    Yeah, when I think of “success,” Adolf Hitler inevitably comes to mind. What are those people smoking?

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