Thomas Wictor

Colonel Richard Kemp will be in our movie

Colonel Richard Kemp will be in our movie

Colonel Richard Kemp is the former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, and he will appear in the Pierre Rehov documentary about Operation Protective Edge. Mr. Rehov has completed the interview, so I have permission to make the announcement.


Colonel Kemp is an extremely brave man, and not only in the sense of physical courage. He’s one of the few military figures on the planet who speaks out loudly, convincingly, and frequently in support of the Israeli Defense Forces.

Kemp testified before the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, denying allegations that Israel engaged in war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Gaza War in December 2008 to January 2009. Kemp based his assessment on publicly available information from both sides, press reports and his 30-year experience of counter-terrorism operations and planning. In June 2009, Kemp wrote “HAMAS, THE GAZA WAR AND ACCOUNTABILITY UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW” for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. In this paper, Kemp accused Hamas of deploying women and children as suicide attackers, and wrote that “women and children are trained and equipped to fight, collect intelligence and ferry arms and ammunition between battles.”

In October 2009, Kemp made a presentation to the United Nations Human Rights Council in response to the introduction of the Goldstone report in which Israel and Hamas were accused of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during the Gaza War. Kemp spoke to the UN HRC on behalf of UN Watch. Kemp said: “Of course innocent civilians were killed. War is chaos and full of mistakes. There have been mistakes by the British, American and other forces in Afghanistan and in Iraq, many of which can be put down to human error. But mistakes are not war crimes… Based on my knowledge and experience, I can say this: during Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defense Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in the combat zones than any other army in the history of warfare.”

Kemp also claimed to have relied on Israeli expertise in Afghanistan. He said he received help from an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) anti-suicide bombing expert and the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, following the 2005 London bombings. Kemp was highly critical of the “automatic assumption that everything the IDF does is illegal.” He said “there is harsh criticism against the US and British armies as well, but they are given the benefit of the doubt. Israel is always automatically condemned, no matter what. It’s a joke. Even the conspiracy theory that the one responsible for the 11 September attacks is not al-Qaeda but Israel refuses to die out, it’s unbelievable.”

Although I wanted Colonel Kemp for the movie, initially I didn’t contact him because when I first started writing about Pallywood, the tiny amount of coverage I got in the press made me out to be insane.

What I’m going to say next is entirely my own opinion and has nothing to do with either Colonel Kemp or Pierre Rehov.

Before I wrote to Colonel Kemp, I contacted TEN former United States servicemen: Two Navy SEALs, two Green Berets, one member of the Delta Force, one army lieutenant, one highly-decorated army staff sergeant, and three United States Marines. Of the latter, one was from Force Recon, the marines’ special-operations unit.


Every one of these men agreed to e-mail Mr. Rehov, and not one did. In addition, not one answered Mr. Rehov’s messages.

So I took a deep breath, wrote to Colonel Kemp, and he came through for us.

Why would ten former US servicemen renege on their promise to contact Pierre Rehov? Lots of reasons. Although I support the US military, there’s a definite “us versus them” mindset when it comes to civilians, the result of having all-volunteer armed forces. I’m a civilian with no military experience; I thought that having studied the military and published books about it would make American service members more amenable to working with me. In reality my books often lead veterans and active-duty service members to think that I’m trying to lord my knowledge over on them.

A few years ago this was confirmed to me by an active-duty soldier.

“You come in here talking about your books like it means something,” he said. “You’ve never heard a shot fired in anger.”

I was stunned. The reason I mentioned my books was to establish my bona fides as someone who has a certain level of knowledge and who supports the military. It backfired spectacularly.

American service members are likely envious of the Israeli Defense Forces. Israel has a long history of incredible victories, pulled off by a conscript army. Schoolteachers, musicians, computer programmers, and deliverymen can outfight the professionals. It’s just because of training. The IDF trains more than the US military. Because of this envy, American service members often reinforce the notion that the IDF uses sledgehammers to crack eggs.

Here’s one of the stupidest things I’ve ever read.

According to [a] senior U.S. officer, who had access to the July 21 Pentagon summary of the previous 24 hours of Israeli operations, the internal report showed that 11 Israeli artillery battalions — a minimum of 258 artillery pieces, according to the officer’s estimate — pumped at least 7,000 high explosive shells into [Shijaiyah], which included a barrage of some 4,800 shells during a seven-hour period at the height of the operation. Senior U.S. officers were stunned by the report…

“Holy bejeezus,” exclaimed retired Lt. Gen. Robert Gard when told the numbers of artillery pieces and rounds fired during the July 21 action. “That rate of fire over that period of time is astonishing. If the figures are even half right, Israel’s response was absolutely disproportionate.”

“Killing civilians is a sure prescription for defeat. But that’s not what the IDF did in Shujaiya on July 21. Human shields? C’mon, just own up to it.”

I knew right away that this was a lie. All you have to do is look at the M109 Doher, the self-propelled howitzers that the Israelis use.


Each Doher is ten feet (three meters) wide, and they’re positioned about fifty feet (fifteen meters) apart when firing. A platoon of six howitzers takes up 310 feet (94 meters). If 258 guns were used, that means we multiply 310 by 43, giving us a front of 2.5 miles (4 kilometers). Shijaiyah is about two miles (3.2 kilometers) wide.


Any “senior U.S. officer” would know that nobody—not even the bloodthirsty Israelis—would emplace artillery pieces along a front wider than the entire neighborhood. Not a single photo exists of a line of howitzers stretching off to the horizon. And besides, both the IDF and the UN immediately released maps that show the destruction in Shijaiyah.


Does it look like 7000 high-explosive artillery shells hit the neighborhood? Of course not. The real number was 600 high-explosive artillery shells, and most of them landed here.


The Israelis assaulted a residential area that had been turned into a fortress protected by 100,000 human shields, yet the Palestinians reported a death toll of…sixty-five. After the war, here’s what a Palestinian medical worker said.

Many people got killed, locked inside their homes by Hamas militants. Hamas’s official Al-Quds TV regularly issued warnings to Gazans not to evacuate their homes. Hamas militants would block the exits to the places residents were asked to evacuate. In the Shijaiya area, people received warnings from the Israelis and tried to evacuate the area, but Hamas militants blocked the exits and ordered people to return to their homes. Some of the people had no choice but to run towards the Israelis and ask for protection for their families. Hamas shot some of those people as they were running; the rest were forced to return to their homes and get bombed. This is how the Shijaiya massacre happened. More than 100 people were killed.

Somehow the conscript army of the IDF attacked a heavily populated neighborhood with infantry, tanks, and fighters dropping bombs, yet they killed virtually no civilians. This is what upsets some American members of the military. I’m an American, and I’m proud of my armed forces.

The IDF just happens to be more skilled. So what? How does that diminish what US forces accomplish?

Israel has also gotten such undeserved bad press that too many westerners don’t want to be associated with her. This is why Colonel Richard Kemp’s stalwart support is all the more admirable.

He’s not only fearless, Mr. Rehov tells me that he has a great sense of humor too. I haven’t asked Mr. Rehov or Colonel Kemp what he said in his interview. I’ll wait and see.

Thank you for your service and for participating in our film, Colonel. We couldn’t have asked for a better warrior.


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