Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell can’t “spot the difference” between Russia and Israel

Within the growing body of work in the field of Comically Erroneous Political Comparisons, Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell just distinguished himself as a rising star. Here’s a Sept. 1st cartoon by Bell, an artist who clearly doesn’t want his creative expression to be fenced in by stubborn political and geographic realities.

Steve Bell 02.09.2014

We’ll take a wild stab, and work under the assumption that Bell’s cartoon is inspired by the recent row concerning Israel’s announcement that it’s taking control of 1000 acres of land near Gvaot in the Gush Etzion region of the West Bank.

Now, here’s a size comparison between Israel and Russia.  This of course doesn’t include Greater Russia, the boundaries of the country after they took over, by military force, the Georgian provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Crimea and sections of eastern Ukraine. See if you can “spot the difference” between Israel and Russia, or even just spot Israel.

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Indeed, Russia’s newly “acquired” territory of Crimea, at just over 10,000 square miles, is, by itself, larger than Israel.

Moreover, while Russia continues to expand its borders, Israel has continued to voluntarily relinquish land for peace (the Sinai, Gaza, Southern Lebanon and much of the West Bank) since their defensive war in 1967.

Shrinking Israel

Bell’s blurring of such obvious and intuitive differences between the recent territorial histories of Israel and Russia is par for the course at the Guardian, where such artful obfuscations over Israel’s clear moral advantages represent one of their signature ideological ticks.

Bizarre claim in the Guardian: ‘Red roofs are mandatory in Israeli settlements’

What can ‘forensic architecture’ reveal about the conflict in Gaza?‘, Guardian, Sept 1, focuses on the Haifa-born, London educated architect Eyal Weizman, evidently famous in some circles as the “chief proponent of “forensic architecture”, which analyzes the “impacts of urban warfare” for clues about the crimes perpetrated there.

When he looks out across the landscape of the occupied Palestinian West Bank, as he does in the film The Architecture of Violence, to be aired on Al Jazeera today, [Eyal Weizman] sees a battlefield. “The weapons and ammunitions are very simple elements: they are trees, they are terraces, they are houses. They are barriers.”

In the kitchen of his east London home…he says the most obvious and contentious aspect of what he calls the “architecture of occupation” is the system of Israeli settlements. Perched on West Bank hilltops, they are strategically positioned, according to Weizman, so that they look out over the Palestinian valleys and towns below, in order “to dominate”.

Then, the kicker:

Each of the uniformly suburban-looking houses – all with mandatory red roofs so that on flyovers the Israeli army know[s] not to target them – is “itself like an optical instrument,” he tells me.

As bizarre as this claim is, amazingly it has been advanced previously.  Just a few months ago, the Chairman of Norwegian People’s Aid, Finn Erik, said pretty much the same thing at a lecture in Norway.  But, as popular blogger Elder of Ziyon demonstrated, there are multiple reasons why this claim doesn’t withstand even the slightest scrutiny.  

  • Most Palestinians in Judea and Samaria live in areas A and B under control of the Palestinian Authority (PA). The PA has full responsibility for zoning and import of building materials, including the type of roof tiles that can be used. There are no Palestinian regulations that prohibit the use of red roof tiles.
  • Israel has no laws or regulations that prohibit the use of red roof tiles in Area C which is under Israeli control. This means that both Arabs and Jews who build in this area can use red roof tiles in their houses, if they want to. 
  • The Israeli air force uses precision weapons that can hit its target with great accuracy both day and night, and is completely independent of the color of the house or on the roof tiles.
  • Most Palestinian houses do not have red roof tiles is that they do not tile their roofs at all. The traditional Arab architecture in the area includes a solarium that can be used for different purposes.
  • A number of houses built in recent years in Arab settlements in Israel, Judea and Samaria, have red tiles.

redroof

Photo from Elder of Ziyon

Additionally, Elder noted that Israeli aircraft does not bomb houses in Judea and Samaria. And, indeed, as far as we can tell there hasn’t been an air strike anywhere in the West Bank, for any reason, since the height of the 2nd Intifada.

Finally, an article by architecture critic Ran Shechori  published provides a bit of history on red-tiled roofs in Israel:

Since there were no local skilled builders at the beginning of the 19th century the English had even been forced to import stonecutters from Malta no antagonism was felt towards the foreign styles that sprouted on the local landscape. Consciously or not, that century witnessed the belated victory of the Crusaders, with the creation of a Christian presence in the Holy Land, which took over the educational and welfare system and began the Europeanization of this part of the world.

The local population began to copy the European styles of building. Wealthy Arab families who had left the Old City began building villas and mansions in the European style, albeit heavily decorated with traditional Moslem embellishments. The cities that were then growing adopted European terraced housing and the sloping red-tiled roofs.

The Jews, who had lived till then in homes rented from Arabs, also began to establish their own independent neighbourhoods. Mishkenot Shaananim (lit. “tranquil dwellings”) was the first such area in Jerusalem. It was built with the help of the British philanthropist, Sir Moses Montefiore, in 1860, as a series of long buildings topped by sloping, red-tiled roofs

Red-tiled roofs, which came to symbolize the Jewish presence and represented the idealized “home”;

Just as in the beginning, the Israeli still sees the red roof as a status symbol.

As Matti Friedman explained in his masterful essay at Tablet Magazine, one of the iron-clad rules of media coverage of the region requires that “every flaw in Israeli society is aggressively reported”, to which he should have added: even those ‘flaws‘ which are merely a figment of the increasingly wild anti-Zionist imagination.  

Focus below the line: Profile of ‘anti-Zionist’ Guardian commenter Eileen Kuch

We first noticed commenter ‘Eileen Kuch’ on a ‘Comment is Free’ thread about the Ukrainian-Russian crisis in April, where she vehemently supported Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.

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This comment, putting aside the “Zio-controlled” trope (that can be explained off as some kind of anti-Zionism – she didn’t write “Jewish controlled”; did she?), reminded us of a crazy conspiracy theory – on some completely off the mental spectrum website – alleging that Barack Obama’s stepfather Lolo Soetoro must have been Jewish because “soetoro” is a Hebrew word used in the Hebrew Bible.

We were mildly surprised that the Guardian allowed such a bizarre claim on their site, and, wishing to understand the very generous flexibility of the moderators, searched for her other comments.

Reading her writings taken from her public profile on CIF is a beautiful example of the level of racist hate speech that the World’s Leading Liberal Voice is evidently ready to tolerate, completely disregarding their own ‘community standards’. Here are a limited number of examples of her comments, along with the ‘source’ of her knowledge.

Israel and its puppet the USA are the instigators of all ongoing unrest and upheaval in the world:

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Another comment puts some light on her ‘sources’.

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Her suggested useful reference on the mass murder of “Christians” by the hands of Lenin and Trotsky is a book of a certain Estonian author – Juri Lina – titled ‘Under the Sign of the Scorpion‘. To illustrate what she considers ‘an important source’, we will only quote the well-known neo-Nazi and conspiracy theorist Henry Makow: 

Estonian journalist Juri Lina has examined the recently opened Soviet archives and documented the connection between the Bolshevik Revolution and Jewish Illuminism in his book “Under the Sign of the Scorpion.” (1994)

I will probably devote a separate column to this book. Suffice to say here that Communism was the outcome of the plan outlined in Protocols. No wonder this book was banned in the USSR on pain of death! Its informal ban in America is a measure of our condition.

Karl Marx, Lenin and Trotsky, were all Jewish Freemasons, dysfunctional losers who were employed by the Illuminist bankers to hoodwink the masses. Lenin for example had been an unsuccessful lawyer who had only six cases in which he defended shoplifters. He lost all six cases. A week later he gave up the law to become a highly paid revolutionary.

Ms Kuch can’t be fooled; she knows the real name of the players in Ukraine:

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CiF Watch prompts correction at the Indy over Hamas executions claim

An Aug. 22nd article in The Independent by Kashmira Gander about the war in Gaza included the following passage in reference to the recent public execution of 18 Palestinians by Hamas.
 
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 However, there were widely reported public executions in Gaza much more recently than the 90s.

So, it clearly is not accurate to claim that the recent public executions in Gaza were the first since the 1990s.

After our communication with Indy editors, they deleted the sentence which claimed that these recent executions were the first in the enclave since the 90s.

correction
We commend Indy editors on their positive response to our complaint.

Celebrating 5 years of CiF Watch!

 

Friends,

Last week, CiF Watch celebrated its 5th anniversary.

In our inaugural post on Aug. 24, 2009 we announced our intention to combat antisemitism and anti-Israel bias at the Guardian, and “to regularly post articles exposing the bigoted and one-sided nature of [their] obsessive focus on Israel and, by extension, the Jewish people.”

In recent years we have evolved in several respects:

  • We improved our efficacy by establishing an extremely successful affiliation with CAMERA.

Please continue reaching out to us – by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook, or the ‘old fashioned’ way, by emailing us at contactus@cifwatch.com – when you come across misleading claims, or outright factual errors, in reports and commentaries within the UK media.

On the occasion of our fifth anniversary, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the work we do, and how we can more effectively carry out our mission, and continue speaking truth to power.

Adam Levick, Managing Editor

How did UK Chief Rabbi get the motivation of Toulouse killer so wrong?

It typically is quite welcomed when the UK Chief Rabbi lends his moral authority – and, as in the case of the previous occupant of the office, Jonathan Sacks, profound eloquence – to an op-ed on the topic of antisemitism.  

However, though we were hoping for inspiration and clarity by the new Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, his Telegraph op-ed included a truly baffling error regarding the background of the Toulouse killer, Muhammad Merah.

Here are the first few paragraphs in Mirvis’s essay (A new strain of Antisemitism is on the rise, Aug. 27):

On Sunday a rally will take place in London to demand zero tolerance of anti-Semitism. Why is this necessary?

On March 19 2012, a teacher and three pupils were killed in a terrorist attack at the Ozar Hatorah Jewish Day School in Toulouse. For days, speculation was rife about the identity and motivation of the perpetrator.

Initially, many presumed that the killer came from the extreme Right. After all, the strengthening of extremist elements in the midst of a faltering European economy has fuelled anti-Semitism. Or, we wondered, perhaps the attacker subscribed to neo-Nazi ideology, or was influenced by radical Islam. Whatever the motivation, it seemed sadly clear that, even in the 21st century, the old aims of Hitler had not vanished from the continent of Europe.

Then the perpetrator was identified as Mohammed Merah, a 23-year-old French petty criminal, of Algerian descent. Merah said that he attacked the Jewish school because “the Jews kill our brothers and sisters in Palestine”. This transformation of the Israeli-Palestinian political conflict into something more sinister, and even religious in nature, has produced what some refer to as the new anti-Semitism.

It’s curious that Mirvis chose to benignly characterize Merah as a “petty criminal’ and not someone motivated by radical Islam.  There is simply no debate over the fact that he was an Islamist who murdered Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, Gabriel Sandler (age 4), Arieh Sandler (age 5), Miriam Monsonego (age 7) in an act of Jihad.  

Though Merah had previously served time in jail for ‘petty crime’, his radicalization while in prison was not surprising, given that this extremist Islamist ideology infected most of his immediate family.  Indeed, his family was reportedly obsessed by hatred of Jews, and were passionate supporters of the “outlawed Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) and Armed Islamic Group) (GIA) terrorist organizations”.

In 2010, Merah traveled to Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, and Tajikistan to join or train with jihadists.  He later traveled to Afghanistan in hopes of joining the Taliban.

Marc Weitzmann, a regular contributor to Le Monde, in his masterful essay at Tablet about Merah, chillingly noted the following:

in August 2011…he finally met [Islamist] “the brothers” who would initiate him into terror. And here’s the credo (retold in a French that challenges a translator): “In the beginning, the brothers, they told me to kill. A brother from Arab origin. He said I should kill everything—everything that is civilian and miscreant, everything. The gays, the homosexuals, the ones that kiss each other in public. He said, ‘Shoot them down,’ see? But me, I had a message to carry. And, er… I knew that by killing only militaries and Jews, the message, it would carried better. Cuz if I were to kill just civilians, the French population they’d say, ‘Oh, he’s just another crazy terrorist.’ Even if I had the right. But now the message’s different. Now I just kill militaries and Jews, see?

Yes, we ‘see’ that Merah was clearly motivated by Islamist extremism, an ominous example of the increasing threat posed to Europe by radicalized Muslims returning from ‘theaters of Jihad’ overseas.

We’re left to wonder, however: Does the Chief Rabbi not see this?

Brits for the Islamic State: Guardian publishes two pro-ISIS letters

Based on a recent poll, 7 percent of residents in the UK support the barbaric jihadists of the Islamic State (ISIS), which, though incredibly disturbing in its own right, represents a far lower level of support than in France, where 16 percent expressed their approval.

While support in Europe for ISIS presumably comes mostly from Islamists in predominantly Muslim immigrant communities, the following letters, published at the Guardian on Aug. 27 (which were in response to an op-ed titled ‘Isis: an apocalyptic cult carving a place in the modern world‘) were penned by Brits in largely white, non-immigrant communities. 

The Islamic State caliphate finally realises a dream that goes back to the 1920s when the Muslim Brotherhood was established. Syria has been its main target since the 1960s. Assassinations of government figures hardened the Assad regime’s security apparatus and freedom was sacrificed for security. Syria remains resolutely secular and the nation’s disparate minorities continue to support Assad. The Islamists could not overthrow them, even with US weaponry and Saudi finance. Now they have established a base where they can fulfil their dream of an Islamist state. Why not let them have it? Agree new borders with Syria and Iraq to replace the Sykes-Picot lines in the sand, encourage repopulation of the region with fundamentalists and fund relocation of the refugees. The state of Israel was established against a similar background of desperation mixed with terrorist cruelty – existential challenges bring out the worst in people. The west supported the Zionist dream, so why not the Islamist one?
Craig Sams
Hastings, East Sussex

John Gray (An apocalyptic cult carving a place in the modern world, 26 August) says that “to view Isis as expressing the core of one of the world’s great religious is to endorse Isis’s view of itself, which Islamic religious authorities across the world have rejected”.

I thought the point of the Enlightenment (and the Guardian) was to take nothing on authority but to think for oneself and test one’s theories rationally. Mr Gray, author of Al Qaeda and What it Means to be Modern, appears to have missed this point. Neither the views of Isis about itself nor the views of “religious authorities” are or should be determinative. I prefer to think for myself and, having read the Qur’an from cover to cover several times, I agree with Isis.
Paul Simmons
East Twickenham, Middlesex

We’ve read some outlandish letters at the Guardian before, but these are simply beyond comprehension.

We’ll leave the simply delusional comparison with Zionism, in the first letter, aside, and just note that ISIS represents a simply monstrous brand of Islamic extremism, whose members have kidnapped large numbers of women for sex slavery and engaged in the mass murder of religious minorities.  Their objective is the establishment of a worldwide Caliphate.

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ISIS Tweeted this photo showing a child holding a severed head of an executed man, with a phrase boasting that: “This is how the cubs of the Caliphate are raised up”.

The SITE Intelligence Group provides good background:

The massacres carried out by IS are an integral expression of the organization’s worldview and not random atrocities.  This ideology, while related to the jihadi-salafism practiced by al-Qaeda (AQ), is far more extreme, leading the Islamic State to claim that it is AQ that has altered the original creed and methodology of Usama bin Ladin.  Among the specific aspects that set it apart from al-Qaeda’s belief system are a requirement of absolute obedience to their so-called “caliph” with no dissention and no organizations that are separate from his control; a demand for constant warfare against anyone who supports the “apostate” regimes; and a focus on wiping out entire cultures and people groups, including Yazidis, Christians, Sabaeans, and all Shi’a.

Each piece of this abhorrent ideology comes with deliberate planning and purpose-built organizations designed to realize the new “caliph’s” vision.  For instance, in order to impose their horrific vision of society on the people of Syria, the Caliphate is forcibly inculcating ordinary Muslims, especially the young, into the Islamic State’s version of Islam.  Recent reporting from Raqqa, Syria, by Vice News, an edgy group of journalists known for their work in dangerous spots around the world, shows the use of indoctrination centers (some in former churches), mobile proselytization vans, and outdoor propaganda gatherings to introduce unwilling citizens of Raqqa to the Islamic State’s ideology and way of life.  There is also video footage of strangely compliant prisoners, all calmly agreeing that they have sinned and deserve their punishment of death or beatings.

To coerce conquered populations into living out IS’s vision, the groups has set up “shari’a police,” or the Hisba.  Based on a medieval institution sometimes known as the “Body to Command Right and Forbid Wrong,” the Hisba enforces compliance with the group’s extremist version of Islamic law.  AQ affiliates like Shabaab have set up similar units that have the authority to arrest anyone caught committing infractions against that group’s stringent legal code

IS has also created an ideologically motivated force, similar to the Nazi SS troops, to act as their shock forces in this fight.  The units, known as the “Inghimasiyun,” or “those who plunge [into battle],” recall a concept of warfare from the early days of Islam, when the most ardent of the believers would rush into the enemies’ ranks without taking care for their own lives.  In a similar fashion, accounts from Iraq and Syria suggest that the Inghimasiyun often carry out suicide bombings either as part of the planned assault or as a way to avoid capture. 

Even more disturbing than the Inghimasiyun are the so-called “Dhabiha” (or “Slaughterers”), which constitute what would be the Einsatzgruppen (Nazi death squads) of IS.  The purpose of these units, as with the Nazi “task forces,” is to carry out the massacre of enemies of the state in an organized fashion.  Unlike the Nazi units, however, the Dhabiha take care to film themselves carrying out their atrocities and post photos and videos to social media in order to terrify others into obedience.  The recent beheading of 700 tribal members involved in an attempted uprising in Dayr al-Zawr, Syria against IS fits the modus operandi of the Dhabiha, as does the posting online soon afterward of videos of the carnage.

SITE reasonably characterizes ISIS’s medieval ideology as akin to the worst totalitarian states of the last century.

ISIS is simply evil, and the thought that even 7 percent of Brits – including, evidently, some inspired by a far-left ideology – view the group favorably is truly frightening. 

An appeal to Owen Jones: don’t associate with anti-Semites

This is cross posted from the blog of The CST, and was originally titled ‘Opposing antisemitism: an appeal to put words into action’.

owen jones

Owen Jones

The past two months have seen the number of antisemitic incidents in Britain approach record levels Much of this has been due to extreme reactions to the conflict between Israel and Gaza that reached its latest ceasefire yesterday. This problem, and its link to extreme manifestations of anti-Israel sentiment, has been covered extensively in the British media.

Some pro-Palestinian activists have recognised this problem and spoken out against it. 

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) has said that antisemitism has no place in its activities, and Owen Jones wrote a column for the Guardian in which he warned of the need to take antisemitism seriously. In particular, he wrote:

Antisemitic themes are depressingly constant: of Jews being aliens, lacking loyalty to their countries, acting as parasites, wielding disproportionate influence. Sometimes this hatred is overt, other times more subtle and pernicious.

We welcome these statements from supporters of the Palestinian cause, just as we previously welcomed PSC’s rejection of the equation of Israel with Nazi Germany. And because we consider these statements to be important and necessary, we hope and expect that the people who made them will live up to their words and the sentiments behind them.

It is for this reason that we appeal to PSC and to Owen Jones to reconsider the inclusion of Tim Llewellyn as a speaker at a PSC meeting tomorrow evening, 28th August, on “Gaza: let down by the BBC and mainstream media?” We appeal to PSC as the organiser of the meeting and to Jones as one of the other speakers.

Our objection is not to the meeting itself. We do not oppose your right to hold public meetings in support of the Palestinians, or to criticise Israel, or to critique media coverage of the conflict between the two.

Our objection is specifically to the inclusion of Llewellyn as a guest speaker on this topic because he has a record of statements that illustrate exactly what Jones warns against: themes “of Jews being aliens, lacking loyalty to their countries, acting as parasites, wielding disproportionate influence.”

For example, last year at a meeting in London that was also about media coverage of Israel, Llewellyn claimed that the BBC is intimidated by the “Jewish lobby”. When he was challenged on this by the chair of the meeting, he resisted criticism of his choice of phrase. The full exchange ran as follows and can be viewed here on the CST Blog:

Llewellyn: “Is it because… I can see it in the BBC. They’re frighten’, these people are quite aggressive, right. The Jewish Lobby is not much fun. They come at you from every direction.”

Off camera, another speaker says “no”, then, “its the pro-Israel lobby”. It is not exactly clear who says what after this, but it includes the chair Mark McDonald talking over Llewellyn, stating:

“I mean that’s a very important thing to say, that it’s not a Jewish lobby. Can I interrupt a second. It’s not a Jewish lobby. It might be a Zionist lobby. It may be a pro-Israel lobby.”

Llewellyn replies: “Yes, but they use Jewish connections to get you.”

This statement by Llewellyn was not a one-off. It fitted a long record of statements and writings that mix “Jewish” with “Zionist” while alleging that both hold undue and nefarious influence in British public life. For example, in 2006, Llewellyn wrote the following in the Foreword to a new edition of Publish It Not: The Middle East Cover-Up by Michael Adams and Christopher Mayhew:

No alien polity has so successfully penetrated the British government and British institutions during the past ninety years as the Zionist movement and its manifestation as the state of Israel…the Zionists have manipulated British systems as expertly as maestros, here a massive major chord, there a minor refrain, the audience, for the most part, spellbound.

…this cuckoo in the nest of British politics…

… Israel had worked its spells well, with a lot of help from its friends: these lined the benches of parliament, wrote the news stories and editorials, framed the way we saw and heard almost everything about the Middle East on TV, radio and in the press. History, the Bible, Nazi Germany’s slaughter of the Jews, Russian pogroms, the Jewish narrative relayed and parlayed through a thousand books, films, TV plays and series, radio programmes, the skills of Jewish writers, diarists, memoirists, artists and musicians, people like us and among us, all had played their part.

…the fervent Zionist Labour MPs, some of them little better than bully-boys, Richard Crossman (not a Jew), Ian Mikardo, Maurice Edelman, Emmanuel “Manny” Shinwell, Sidney Silverman, Konni Zilliacus et al, are, mercifully, not only no longer with us but have not been replaced, not in such virulent form.

… the Union of Jewish Students, which elbows and induces Zionistically inclined undergraduates towards influential positions in British public life, especially the media, the banking sector and information technology.

Llewellyn mixes “Zionist” with “Jewish”, describing both as “alien” to Britain; and alleges undue and negative influence and manipulation of the media, politics and “the banking sector”. These allegations all have clear antecedents in antisemitic conspiracy theories.

Another example: in 2004, Llewellyn was quoted in the Jewish Chronicle as describing former US ambassador Dennis Ross in these terms:

He also denounced broadcasters who invited the “insidious” former US ambassador to the Middle East Denis Ross, without fully identifying him.

Mr Llewellyn said: “What a lovely Anglo-Saxon name! But Denis Ross is not just a Jew, he is a Zionist, a long-time Zionist… and now directs an Israeli-funded think tank in Washington. He is a Zionist propagandist.”

The suggestion that broadcasters should identify an interviewee as “a Jew”, lest their viewers be fooled by an “Anglo-Saxon name”, is scurrilous and prejudiced.

In 2012, Llewellyn wrote of

massive media distortion, and … Zionist penetration and manipulation of our institutions – the media, universities, local education, political parties…

He went on to describe as Britain’s

real enemies… the ambitious and greedy British politicians and insidious political influence, in this case spawned by an alien state and strengthened by its friends in our midst, people who put Israel’s interests above that of their own nation.

(From The Battle for Public Opinion in Europe: Changing Perceptions of the Palestine-Israel Conflict, eds. Daud Abdullah & Ibrahim Hewitt, not online). Again, this echoes the classical antisemitic allegation of ‘dual loyalty’, whereby British Jews are accused of lacking loyalty to the country of their birth.

If the important and welcome statements by PSC, Owen Jones and others about their opposition to antisemitism and determination to exclude it from pro-Palestinian activism have real meaning, then there should be no place for Tim Llewellyn at a PSC meeting. This is not an abstract argument: the sharp increase in antisemitism in Britain in recent weeks demonstrates that fact. Words lead to actions, good and bad. We now invite PSC and Owen Jones to put their valuable and worthy statements and principles into practice. A discussion of media coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict must not give room to those who believe that there is a Zionist conspiracy to control, manipulate or influence the British media, politics, banking and education, as Tim Llewellyn has suggested. Nor should pro-Palestinian activism be a home for those who believe that Jews are an alien presence, disloyal to Britain, who change their names to disguise their true loyalties.

Put your words into action, and remove Tim Llewellyn from your platform.

Financial Times correspondent John Reed declares Hamas a ‘winner’

“Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper, but in Spain, for the first time, I saw newspaper reports which do not bear any relation to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie”

This is a quote by George Orwell about news reports during the Spanish Civil War, but, as former AP correspondent Matt Friedman explained in his masterful Tablet essay (An Insider’s Guide to the Most Important Story on Earth), Orwell’s words are just as apt in characterizing the media’s egregiously misleading coverage of Israel and the war in Gaza. 

The Orwell quote (cited by Friedman in his article) came to mind when we read the following passages in a report in the London-based Financial Times by John Reed titled ‘War in Gaza: Winners and Losers‘, which happened to overlap with Hamas’s own surreal assessment of the war.

Here’s the relevant passage in Reed’s report:

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Let’s take it apart:

Reed:

Before Protective Edge, Gaza’s ruling Islamist movement was in a corner. It was politically isolated, bankrupt, unable to pay its civil servants and forced by circumstances to reconcile with arch-rival Fatah.

And, after the war, Hamas is politically isolated, bankrupt, and still unable to pay its civil servants. Further, the current ceasefire deal which Hamas agreed to is almost exactly like the one Egypt proposed (which Israel accepted) but Hamas rejected on July 15, one week into the conflict, before the IDF destroyed their terror tunnels, and killed some of their top leaders.  

Hamas’s decision to reject the July 15th proposal represented a colossal miscalculation, and resulted in more Hamas fighters killed, a much greater depletion of their rocket capacity, and no perceivable military, strategic or political benefit.

Other Hamas ‘demands’ which haven’t been agreed to by Israel in the current ceasefire include opening a sea port and an airport in Gaza, and releasing additional Palestinian prisoners.

Reed:

In this context, the war was a welcome development. Hamas, for the third time in five years, confronted one of the world’s best armies and managed to hold on to power, calculating correctly that Israel would never embark on a longer and bloodier ground war in order to topple it.

How low can you set the bar? The mere fact that they ‘held on to power’ is a victory? Again, he doesn’t explain what concrete achievements they can reasonably boast. Also, it’s interesting that Reed fails to explain how the war was a “welcome development” for Palestinian civilians.

Reed:

Hamas rockets, built painstakingly over years by blockade-busting tactics, sent people across Israel running into shelters, killing six civilians and bringing most flights at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion airport to a halt for two days in July.

It’s almost as if Reed admires Hamas’s ‘grit’ in diverting humanitarian aid (which could have helped Gaza’s economy) for terror purposes. Plus, it’s interesting how such Jerusalem based correspondents covering the war, such as Reed, who almost universally downplayed the threat posed to Israeli civilians by the thousands of Hamas rockets, can now suggest that these same rockets ‘successfully’ terrorized Israel by killing six civilians, and sending them fleeing for bomb shelters. 

Reed:

Although much of Hamas’s arsenal is now depleted and many of its tunnels destroyed, fighting Israel to another ceasefire plays as a victory for many of its supporters.

Talk about burying the lead!  So, despite the fact that “Hamas’s [rocket] arsenal is now depleted and many [sic] of its tunnels destroyed”, Reed still maintains that a victory was achieved. 

Reed:

As after Operation Pillar of Defence in 2012, Hamas can begin firing again if it chooses. Granted, when the dust settles from this conflict and its spoils and destruction become clearer to Gazans, they could potentially turn on Hamas. There is no sign of this happening yet, however.

Of course, one of the biggest obstacles preventing Gazans from “turning on Hamas” is not any objective assessment of the war’s “achievements’ per se, but, rather, scenes such as these:

One of 22 Palestinians summarily executed by Hamas on Aug. 22

One of 22 Palestinians summarily executed by Hamas on Aug. 22

Finally, here are some facts ignored by Reed in his assessment:

  • IDF attacked 5,263 targets across Gaza during the war, hitting rocket launching sites, arms and munitions factories and warehouses, as well as the offices of Hamas commanders. Several top Hamas commanders and hundreds of Hamas fighters were killed. Over 34 known tunnels were destroyed.
  • Out of the 4,564 rockets and mortars fired at Israel from Gaza, over 475 landed in Gaza, killing an unknown number of Palestinians. 3,641 exploded in Israeli territory, but only 224 actually hit residential areas, while the remaining rockets fell in open areas; The Iron Dome intercepted at least 735. Six Israeli civilians were killed.

To simply state that Reeds’s assessment of Hamas’s achievements ‘does not bear any relation to the facts’ is an understatement of enormous proportions. 

CiF Watch prompts correction to erroneous Times of London headline

On Aug. 5th, the Times of London published an article (pay wall) titled ‘Refugee camp hit as Israel admits it broke truce’.

headline times of london

However, the article didn’t include any information even suggesting that Israel had “admitted” breaking the truce.  Indeed, news sites reported that the time of the attack (aimed at a senior Hamas operative) was clearly in dispute.

After several complaints to Times editors, they agreed to revise the headline.

revisedThe print edition ran this correction:

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We commend Times editors for their positive response to our complaint.

Guardian fauxtography: Chris McGreal pulls a Jon Donnison

You no doubt recall when, during the last war in Gaza in 2012, BBC’s Jon Donnison tweeted a photo of a girl with the title “Pain in Gaza”, to which Donnison added his own commentary – “Heartbreaking”.  It of course turned out that the genuinely heartbreaking image was actually from Syria and not from Gaza – a mistake for which Donnison subsequently apologized. 

Well, within the last hour, the Guardian’s Chris McGreal just retweeted the following, to his nearly 4,000 followers, a Tweet by Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director, Middle East and North Africa Division, for Human Rights Watch.

syria

However, this photo of a boy (8 year old Eid) holding his new prosthetic leg was taken in Syria, not Gaza.

pcrf

The article posted at the site of Palestine Children’s Relief Fund explains:

Thanks to the support of donors all over the world, the hard work of the PCRF Jordan Chapter, and Mr. Charl Stenger, an orthotics specialist working in Dubai, 8-year-old Eid from Syria got his new artificial legs after losing them from a bombing earlier this year (his mother was killed and his 5-year-old sister also lost a leg).  The PCRF is dedicated to helping any child in need, regardless of their nationality, religion or ethnicity.  

No doubt, apologies from McGreal and Whitson will be forthcoming.

UPDATE: Whitson deleted her tweet and wrote this:

delete

No word yet from McGreal.

Mira Bar-Hillel falls for phony ‘IDF’ tweet ‘admitting’ to murdering children

For those unfamiliar with the British ‘journalist’ Mira Bar-Hillel (who contributes to the Independent), here are a few facts about her views on Jews and Israel:

  • She complained that Jews smear people unfairly with the charge of antisemitism to “gag into submission any critic of Israel”.
  • She evoked Nazi Germany in characterizing Israeli racism and IDF military actions in Gaza.
  • She accused British Jews (collectively) of ‘bombing Gaza’.
  • She bizarrely argued that British Jews don’t criticize Israeli actions in Gaza out of fear of being “ex-communicated” from the Jewish community. (She later admitted that she had no evidence to back this claim up.)
  • She has admitted to being “prejudiced against Jews”. (See her exact words)
  • She believes that “the message” of Jews controlling America is “entirely true” and “increasingly so”, and that Jewish lobbyists appear to be picking up some of the ideas from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and using them.

Now, the latest.

Here are two tweets from today by Bar-Hillel, which included a graphic purporting to represent an “IDF tweet”:

Here’s Bar-Hillel’s first tweet, with the “IDF tweet” attached.

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And, then, 8 minutes later she asks a few more of her Zionist nemeses to justify the ‘IDF tweet':

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We’re not sure if anyone out there, except Bar-Hillel and her motley crew of retweeters, could possibly believe in the authenticity of this “IDF” tweet “acknowledging” child murder, but, briefly:

It was clearly photoshopped from this real IDF tweet from Aug. 21:

And, the graphic was almost certainly taken from this IDF tweet

Mira Bar-Hillel wants so badly to believe that Israel murders children that she was willing to believe this absurd hoax tweet.

Tell us again why Bar-Hillel continues to pen op-eds for British newspapers (on the topics of Israel and antisemitism!) and lands interviews with the BBC and Sky News, on similar topics, as a ‘representative’ of the British Jewish community.

Everything you always wanted to know about media coverage of Israel but were afraid to ask

In carrying out this blog’s mission, we often attempt to contextualize Guardian/UK media coverage of Israel and the Jewish world by explaining not only what they get wrong, but also why they get it wrong.

eye_stardavid400x246_3k8lxgc5Tablet Magazine just published a long and extremely important article (by former AP correspondent Matti Friedman) which masterfully dissects such institutional bias against Israel – in the broader Western media – and we strongly encourage those who’ve thought seriously about the subject to read the 4,000 word essay in full.

Here are some excerpts:

Intro:

The lasting importance of this summer’s war, I believe, doesn’t lie in the war itself. It lies instead in the way the war has been described and responded to abroad, and the way this has laid bare the resurgence of an old, twisted pattern of thought and its migration from the margins to the mainstream of Western discourse—namely, a hostile obsession with Jews. The key to understanding this resurgence is not to be found among jihadi webmasters, basement conspiracy theorists, or radical activists. It is instead to be found first among the educated and respectable people who populate the international news industry; 

How Important Is the Israel Story?

Staffing is the best measure of the importance of a story to a particular news organization. When I was a correspondent at the AP, the agency had more than 40 staffers covering Israel and the Palestinian territories. That was significantly more news staff than the AP had in China, Russia, or India, or in all of the 50 countries of sub-Saharan Africa combined

To offer a sense of scale: Before the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, the permanent AP presence in that country consisted of a single regime-approved stringer. The AP’s editors believed, that is, that Syria’s importance was less than one-40th that of Israel.

What Is Important About the Israel Story, and What Is Not

A reporter working in the international press corps here understands quickly that what is important in the Israel-Palestinian story is Israel. If you follow mainstream coverage, you will find nearly no real analysis of Palestinian society or ideologies, profiles of armed Palestinian groups, or investigation of Palestinian government. Palestinians are not taken seriously as agents of their own fate

Israeli actions are analyzed and criticized, and every flaw in Israeli society is aggressively reported. In one seven-week period, from Nov. 8 to Dec. 16, 2011, I…counted 27 separate articles, an average of a story every two days….this seven-week tally was higher than the total number of significantly critical stories about Palestinian government and society, including the totalitarian Islamists of Hamas, that our bureau had published in the preceding three years.

The Hamas charter, for example, calls not just for Israel’s destruction but for the murder of Jews and blames Jews for engineering the French and Russian revolutions and both world wars; the charter was never mentioned in print when I was at the AP

What Else “Isn’t” Important?

In early 2009..two colleagues of mine obtained information that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had made a significant peace offer to the Palestinian Authority several months earlier, and that the Palestinians had deemed it insufficient. This had not been reported yet and it was—or should have been—one of the biggest stories of the year. The reporters obtained confirmation from both sides and one even saw a map, but the top editors at the bureau decided that they would not publish the story….

This decision taught me a lesson that should be clear to consumers of the Israel story: Many of the people deciding what you will read and see from here view their role not as explanatory but as political. Coverage is a weapon to be placed at the disposal of the side they like.

How Is the Israel Story Framed?

The Israel story is framed in the same terms that have been in use since the early 1990s—the quest for a “two-state solution.” It is accepted that the conflict is “Israeli-Palestinian,” meaning that it is a conflict taking place on land that Israel controls—0.2 percent of the Arab world—in which Jews are a majority and Arabs a minority. The conflict is more accurately described as “Israel-Arab,” or “Jewish-Arab”—that is, a conflict between the 6 million Jews of Israel and 300 million Arabs in surrounding countries…

The “Israeli-Palestinian” framing allows the Jews, a tiny minority in the Middle East, to be depicted as the stronger party

The Old Blank Screen

For centuries, stateless Jews played the role of a lightning rod for ill will among the majority population. They were a symbol of things that were wrong. Did you want to make the point that greed was bad? Jews were greedy. Cowardice? Jews were cowardly. Were you a Communist? Jews were capitalists. Were you a capitalist? In that case, Jews were Communists. Moral failure was the essential trait of the Jew…

Like many Jews who grew up late in the 20th century in friendly Western cities, I dismissed such ideas as the feverish memories of my grandparents. One thing I have learned…is that I was foolish to have done so. Today, people in the West tend to believe the ills of the age are racism, colonialism, and militarism. The world’s only Jewish country has done less harm than most countries on earth, and more good—and yet when people went looking for a country that would symbolize the sins of our new post-colonial, post-militaristic, post-ethnic dream-world, the country they chose was this one.

Who Cares If the World Gets the Israel Story Wrong?

Understanding what happened in Gaza this summer…requires us to understand what is clear to nearly everyone in the Middle East: The ascendant force in our part of the world is not democracy or modernity. It is rather an empowered strain of Islam that assumes different and sometimes conflicting forms, and that is willing to employ extreme violence in a quest to unite the region under its control and confront the West. Those who grasp this fact will be able to look around and connect the dots

Israel is not an idea, a symbol of good or evil, or a litmus test for liberal opinion at dinner parties. It is a small country in a scary part of the world that is getting scarier. It should be reported as critically as any other place, and understood in context and in proportion. 

Read the rest of the essay here.

ISM propaganda film update: What being killed by a sniper really looks like

(Here’s an edited version of the latest installment from Thomas Wictor, fisking a widely reported ISM video purporting to show the ‘killing’, by an unseen IDF sniper, of Salem Shemaly in the Gaza City neighborhood of Shejaiya on July 20th – A.L.)

In the past twenty-four hours, I’ve gotten dozens of messages from Jewish Britons, telling me that the fake Gaza sniper video is suddenly coming up over and over in the UK.

indy

Op-ed at the Independent, Aug. 22, focusing on the “killing” of Shemaly

British Jews are being called murderers. Does that make sense on any level? Am I now allowed to call all Arab-Americans in Detroit murderers because of the atrocities committed by the Islamic State? So, I’m going do something I wanted to avoid. Let me show you the harsh reality of being killed by a sniper.

Don’t watch any of the videos if you’re sensitive. I’ll describe them so that you don’t have to subject yourself to the imagery and sounds if things like this are too hard for you to take.

Last night I was interviewed by an Israeli news program. The interviewer had read my posts on the fake Gaza sniper video put out by the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), but she said it was difficult for people to understand what I was saying without visual imagery.

I disagree. People are being deliberately obtuse in order to have more “war crimes” to pin on Israel.  But to satisfy the wishes of the masses, I’ll provide visual imagery.

First the original ISM video, which you may need for comparison purposes

To give ISM the greatest possible leeway, I’ll restrict myself to discussing the M24 Sniper Weapon System, the lightest-caliber such rifle in the Israeli arsenal.

sniperIsraeli designated marksmen have rifles that fire a less-powerful cartridge, but the accusation is that a sniper killed Salem Shamaly from a house several hundred meters away.

Minaret.1

In the foreground is the alleged sniper’s position, according to while the red arrow marks where Salem Shamaly is said to have been shot. Therefore a trained sniper would’ve had to have taken the shots. I’ll assign him the M24 Sniper Weapon System instead of the massively more powerful .338-caliber HTR-2000 that Israel uses.

One of my criticisms of the ISM video is that the “shots” don’t sound like a rifle. Here are IDF snipers firing the M24 at targets. Nobody gets hurt.

Do you hear anything in the ISM video that sounds remotely like that? The M4 has a strangely legato report. What I hear in the Pallywood production are the high-pitched, stacatto pak! of small explosives detonated electrically. They’re used to simulate bullet impacts in movies.


Now the “Israeli sniper’s” bullet. The green arrow identifies the .300 magnum cartridge that the M24 fires.

300_Magnum

One of the ways that I know the ISM video is fake is that we see no wounds on Salem Shamaly. I’ve said this several times, but people don’t seem to understand. Fine. Now I’ll show you what I mean.

This is what the .300 magnum bullet does to the living flesh of a deer.

deer

Salem Shamaly was said to have been shot three times. This deer was shot once with a .300 magnum bullet.

300_magnum.1

Since he was on his back, Salem Shamaly would’ve had to have been hit in the front. He has no injuries whatsoever, much less the gigantic, exploded holes you see on the deer.

According to the ISM fiction, Salem Shamaly lay on the ground and was shot repeatedly by an Israeli sniper. Here’s genuine video of a Syrian man lying on the ground and being shot repeatedly by a Syrian Arab Army sniper.

He was initially hit in the right forearm, before the video began. At 0:32 he’s shot in the right ankle. He jerks violently from the shock. Salem Shamaly makes no such movements as the .300 magnum bullets allegedly slam into him.

At 1:12, the Syrian man gets up and runs for cover. His right forearm and ankle are shattered from the impact of the bullets, and the front of his sweater is smeared with blood. He makes it around the corner and is rescued at 2:06.

That man was shot at least three times by a sniper. He has blood, injuries, and involuntary reactions to prove it.

This next video shows another Syrian man shot by a sniper. Before the camera began rolling, he was hit in the torso, on the front of his body. Unlike the shirt of Salem Shamaly, this man’s garment is soaked in blood.


At 0:07 he’s hit in the back of his left thigh, in exactly the place where ISM claims that Salem Shamaly was shot. When the bullet strikes this Syrian man, it raises a cloud of dust because the force slams his leg into the ground. The man’s thigh blows apart, and a substantial amount of blood is visible. As the man tries to crawl away, the sniper fires four more times. More clouds of dust are raised. It’s certain that the man didn’t survive.

And here’s the final reason I know the ISM video is fake. This is a Syrian rebel dying on camera after being shot in the chest. Unlike Salem Shamaly, this man is covered with blood.

At 0:28 he raises his legs in cadaveric spasm, an involuntary muscle reaction that occurs at the moment of traumatic death. This also causes his fists to clench. Cadaveric spasm signifies intense emotion. He begins Cheyne-Stokes respiration at 0:44; it’s a classic symptom of the dying process. The wound in his chest damaged his heart, causing fatal cardiac arrest.

Not only does Salem Shamaly show no signs of being shot or of dying, the activists filming him don’t behave as though he’s dying. 

Fakery belittles the suffering of genuine war victims. Superficial, safe, uninformed First Worlders who think the ISM video is real should have their faces ground into the reality of death until they scream for mercy.

The ISM are con artists who’ve told so many lies that they can’t even keep track of them. Here’s what NBC News said about Salem Shamaly.

Ayman Mohyeldin: At the morgue, even after a week of decomposing in the sun, Khalil quickly recognized his son’s body and that green shirt.

Actually, that means that Salem spent a week decomposing in the sun, but never mind. The Palestinian Authority has a different story.

Salem_Shemaly1

To Israelis and Jews everywhere, don’t feel anything except disgust at this infantile playacting. When somebody brings up this video, just point them toward this post. And then cut them out of your lives.

Israelis don’t shoot unarmed civilians as a matter of policy. Their neighbors are the ones who do that. The ISM video is pure psychological projection.

Guardian cartoon juxtaposes ISIS and Netanyahu

No, this is not, by a long stretch, the worst Guardian cartoon (Martin Rowson on the Bárðarbunga volcano – cartoon, Aug. 24). And by that we mean, unlike other cartoons published by the media group that we’ve highlighted, this one is not antisemitic.  

However…

rowson

Here’s a close up of the relevant section of the cartoon, which references recent news regarding a possible volcanic eruption in Iceland to make a point about ‘human sacrifice’ (a possible allusion to the row over the Elie Wiesel Anti-Hamas ‘Child Sacrifice’ Ad), violence and ‘savages’ among us:

snapshot

First, note the cartoon’s placement of evidently equally abhorrent “savages” – the ISIS jihadist, Netanyahu, the Hamasnik, Russia’s Putin, Egypt’s al-Sisi, Syria’s Assad, President Obama, Saudi’s King Abdullah and (possibly) Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau. 

Moreover, let’s remember one thing. This is the Guardian, and their cartoonist’s decision to place the Israeli Prime Minister right next to the ISIS jihadist is certainly not an accident.

Indeed, the mere absence of overt Judeophobic calumnies does not lessen the injurious editorial impact of Rowson’s graphic agitprop: by blurring the profound moral distinctions between antisemitic extremists and the Jewish target of their hate, it is hostile to the most elementary understanding of what opposing antisemitism means.

Condemning antisemitism in the abstract while failing to name, shame and condemn actual anti-Semites is the anti-racism of posers and cowards.