Why does the Guardian portray Hamas as a victim of Israeli aggression?

“Our narrative has gained the upper hand in the media” – Hamas deputy political leader Ismail Haniyeh

As Jews in the UK and across the world were welcoming in the new year on Wednesday evening, the Guardian Group published yet another official editorial reminding readers which party was to blame for the 50 day war between Israel and Hamas.

Whilst nobody familiar with the political leanings of the media group would be surprised that they judged the Jewish state guilty, their September 24th polemic (The Guardian view on the human, economic and political costs of the Gaza war) is noteworthy as a reminder that their top editors in London believe that even the most extreme elements within Palestinian society aren’t responsible for their actions.

The Guardian editorial parrots Hamas talking points in claiming that the movement was strengthened by the war; sows doubt over Hamas culpability for the murder of three Israeli teens, despite a claim of responsibility from one of their leaders as well as an admission by the cell’s ringleader that Hamasniks in Gaza funded the “operation”; falsely characterizes Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli cities as a “response” to Israeli aggression; and challenges “Israel’s reasons for going to war“, completely erasing the history of the conflict.

In response to their claim of Israeli responsibility for the start of hostilities, it’s notable that, even the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent acknowledged that Netanyahu “had shown a marked reluctance to be drawn into a military operation” in the first place, and that Hamas rejected a July 15th ceasefire initiated by Egypt (accepted by Israel) which would have prevented the IDF ground invasion as well as roughly 90% of the total fatalities in the war.  (Remarkably, this July 15th proposal was essentially the same terms as the ceasefire that was accepted by Hamas on Aug 26th.)

So, two important questions need answering:

What are the Guardian’s reasons for portraying Hamas as victims of Israeli aggression? 

What was Hamas’s reasons for going to war with Israel?

The answer to both questions takes us back to former AP correspondent Matti Friedman’s analysis in Tablet Magazine.

First, the Guardian’s framing:

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. (Perhaps “Israel-Muslim” would be more accurate, to take into account the enmity of non-Arab states like Iran and Turkey, and, more broadly, 1 billion Muslims worldwide.) This is the conflict that has been playing out in different forms for a century, before Israel existed, before Israel captured the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank, and before the term “Palestinian” was in use.

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

Second, Hamas’s reasons for going to war:

A knowledgeable observer of the Middle East cannot avoid the impression that the region is a volcano and that the lava is radical Islam, an ideology whose various incarnations are now shaping this part of the world. Israel is a tiny village on the slopes of the volcano. Hamas is the local representative of radical Islam and is openly dedicated to the eradication of the Jewish minority enclave in Israel, just as Hezbollah is the dominant representative of radical Islam in Lebanon, the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and so forth.

Understanding what happened in Gaza this summer means understanding Hezbollah in Lebanon, the rise of the Sunni jihadis in Syria and Iraq, and the long tentacles of Iran. It requires figuring out why countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia now see themselves as closer to Israel than to Hamas. Above all, it 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.

This represents a morally intuitive and historically accurate way to explain the ‘root cause’ of the summer war that Guardian journalists and editors will never provide, which explains why scores of Guardian readers will continue to feel sympathy for Hamas, impute the worst motives to the Jewish state, and never, ever be able to assess the region soberly, objectively and accurately.

Guardian silent about Labour candidate’s suspension for racist tweets

British Labor Party Parliamentary candidate Vicki Kirby was suspended on Saturday by Party leaders after it emerged that she was responsible for a series of hateful Tweets about Israel.

One tweet read:

“We invented Israel when saving them from Hitler, who now seems to be their teacher.”

Another claimed:

“Hitler might be the “Zionist God”

And, one pledged:

“I will never forget and I will make sure my kids teach their children how evil Israel is!”

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Slow news days in Israel? Guardian plays ‘Catch the Jew”

Based on research collected while posing as a German investigative reporter during a tour through Palestinian areas, Israeli born playwright and writer Tuvia Tenenbom spent time with pro-Palestinian “activists” and NGO researchers in the West Bank and asked about the plight of the Palestinians. He turned the results into a book cheekily titled, ‘Catch the Jew, words meant to capture the surreal anti-Israel and antisemitic propaganda continually fed by such activists to a compliant media.

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Former Editor of The Indepedent: Israeli ‘expansionism’ radicalises Muslims

Simon Kelner was Editor of The Independent between 1998 and 2011, and currently writes a column for the Indy’s i100 page. You may recall that Kelner defended his paper’s decision to publish that infamous cartoon by Dave Brown’s in 2003 showing Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ‘devouring the flesh of a Palestinian baby’, claiming that it was not antisemitic.

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Let’s play: Are you an anti-Semite?

This graphic/flowchart on antisemitism, created by A.B. Landis, is being circulated on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Imgur, and we thought it was definitely worth sharing. (Click graphic below to go to the original image at Imgur, and then click again to enlarge.)

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Guardian/Reuters buries the lead on Hamas targeting of Palestinian civilians

Hidden in the final sentence of a Guardian/Reuters report on Sept. 20th, Egypt to host Gaza talks between Palestinian factions, on upcoming reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas and subsequent indirect talks between Hamas and Israel, is a remarkable accusation – albeit one not surprising to those familiar with Hamas‘s widespread human rights violations against their own civilians.

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Jewish, proudly British and increasingly concerned about rising antisemitism

Daniel Finkelstein, associate editor at Times of London, provided an extremely lucid, measured and penetrating look into antisemitism in the UK, in a column published in August.  It’s behind a pay wall, and we thought it was valuable enough to provide excerpts.

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USA Today, not the Guardian, gets ‘1000 acres of land’ story right

Cross posted from CAMERA’s blog Snapshots

picNews media often refer erroneously to the West Bank as “Palestinian land” or “Palestinian territory” and Israeli acquisition or development there often get reported as “land grabs.”

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A bit less righteous: The moral fall of Yad Vashem medal winner Henk Zanoli

In August, multiple British media outlets (including The Economist, Independent and The Telegraph) covered the story of a Yad Vashem Righteous Gentile, Henk Zanoli, 91, who returned his award after the IDF – during Operation Protective Edge – bombed the house of his relative (Ismail Ziadah, who married Henk Zanoli’s father’s great niece) who lived in Gaza, killing six.

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CAMERA’s Tamar Sternthal: Media coverage of Israel during the war in Gaza

My colleague Tamar Sternthal, the Director of the Israel office of CAMERA, recently joined Josh Hasten for an in-studio interview at Voice of Israel to discuss media coverage of Israel during Operation Protective Edge.

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CiF Watch prompts correction to Telegraph claim about Unit 8200 letter

Unlike the Guardian, the Telegraph’s coverage of one protest letter by 43 Israelis – threatening that they’d no longer serve in the IDF’s 8200 intelligence unit due to their opposition to “Israel’s military occupation over the territories” – hasn’t been at all obsessive. In fact, they’ve only published one story on the row to date – an AFP piece titled ‘Elite Israeli soldiers refuse to fight against Palestinians‘, Sept. 12th.

However, the report did contain a clear error, in a passage suggesting that the Israeli soldiers complained, in their letter, of “targeted assassinations”.

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Guardian mangles Bill Clinton’s recent comments about Israeli-Palestinian peace

As CiF Watch readers no doubt know, though the Guardian rarely misses an opportunity to publish a report when someone, somewhere in the world, says something critical of Israel or their leaders, they typically omit news of similarly critical comments about Palestinians and their leaders. Indeed, a recent story by Guardian Washington correspondent Dan Roberts (Bill Clinton: Netanyahu ‘not the guy’ to strike lasting Middle East peace deal, Sept. 16th) represents yet another example of this principle.  

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Guardian champions their favorite Israeli causes: Disloyalty and Insubordination

Former AP correspondent Matti Friedman, in his essay at Tablet on media coverage of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, explained that reporters “working in the international press corps here understands quickly that what is important in the Israel-Palestinian story is Israel”, whose “every action and flaw is analyzed, criticized and aggressively reported”, while, alternately, “Palestinians are not taken seriously as agents of their own fate”.

The Guardian coverage of Israel and the greater region perfectly reflects this principle.

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Examining an alleged quote by Golda Meir about the Holocaust cited by Gideon Levy

(CAMERA senior research analyst Gidon Shaviv assisted in this post)

We recently posted about an Irish Times article by Lara Marlow which highlighted Haaretz’s Gideon Levy (“Holocaust makes Israelis think international law doesn’t apply,” Sept. 11th) in which Levy recycled a previously discredited quote by former prime minister Golda Meir.

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