Its not about you

There’s something rather ironically predictable about the Guardian choosing to end this particular year, in which Israel and Jews everywhere have been under unprecedented attack, with a rather pompous piece by Mehdi Hasan. This rising young star of the British media world has been in the spotlight rather often in recent months for reasons which can best be described as ‘interesting’ in the same manner that my children used to describe my mother’s culinary attempts.

For non-British readers, here’s a quick guide to Mehdi Hasan’s world. He was an editor at Channel 4  and commissioned various ‘Dispatches’ documentaries, including ‘It Shouldn’t Happen To A Muslim’  by Peter Oborne – best known to some of us for his recent programme exposing the non-existent ‘Jewish Lobby’. Then Hasan moved to The New Statesman, where he currently works as senior political editor and also blogs. Since taking up his new position he’s managed to ruffle quite a few feathers by suggesting that it’s acceptable to work for the Iranian regime mouthpiece Press TV, that it’s good to talk to the Taliban, and that Israel is to blame for rising antisemitism in Britain. Understandably, he has been taken to task for these and other claims. There was also a rather prolonged spat with Harry’s Place,  which culminated in the publication of a video of Hasan speaking at an Islamic centre.

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Simply Shocking

Of all the CiF threads I have written about since joining CiF Watch, I’m afraid that the comments on Yorkshire Post journalist Peter Lazenby’s article of December 21st were for me the most difficult and shocking. Peter Lazenby wrote an appropriately sensitive piece about the theft of the sign from the Auschwitz concentration camp which displayed both empathy for the victims of the Holocaust and an understanding of the real lessons of that part of history.

Many of the comments below the line displayed the exact opposite. Some were even decidedly perverse; I cannot put this down to mere ignorance.

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A Case of Mistaken Identity

One thing which has struck me since coming to live in Britain is the sheer number of Jewish organisations which exist here. Besides all the different religious groups and numerous charitable organisations, there are ‘Jews against this’ and ‘Jews in favour of that’, ‘Independent Jewish whatever’ and ‘Affiliated Jewish so and so’. Inevitably, when I ask non-Jewish British people just how many Jews they think live in the UK, they come up with a number between 4 to 5 million. I can hardly blame them for this mistake given the number of Jewish organisations which seem to pop up like mushrooms after the rain. When a minority roughly the size of Wolverhampton speaks in so many contrasting voices, their number is bound to appear inflated.

So I was not surprised two weeks ago to learn from Keith Kahn-Harris’ CiF article of the existence of yet another Jewish organisation; New Jewish Thought. What is curious is that Mr. Kahn-Harris would consider CiF to be an appropriate forum in which to promote the ideas of his organisation. As he has written himself elsewhere:

“Comment Is Free is frequently an outlet for exciting and challenging writing (a judgment that is based on more than the fact that one of us has contributed to it). But when you peruse a typical comment-thread, the problems with it become apparent. What is striking is that few of the comments really engage with the piece they are supposedly commenting on. Instead, most commentators just engage with each other, often with a viciousness that takes your breath away. There is a kind of circularity to the threads, with similar arguments repeated time and time again and rebutted as often.”

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An Opportunity to Bash Israel! Wow!

Yaacov Lozowick is reporting that “[t]he Guardian is engaged in a series of daily reports from Gaza, commemorating the Israeli operation of last year. Here’s one of the series, predictably telling how awful Israel was and is.”

For more from Lozowick click here.

Meanwhile, Israel Matzav has an amusing video of Swedish Jews filming themselves delivering ‘Achmed’s kidneys’ to Aftonbladet’s offices.

Shabby Shabi

Earlier this week, AKUS wrote a humorous piece mocking how Theobald Jew, Rachel Shabi, failed to get even the most basic facts right in her atrocious coverage of the murder of Meir Chai and the Israeli response.

HonestReportingUK has also picked up on the shabby reporting of Rachel Shabi including her mischaraterization of Modi’in as a settlement.

The Observer (which is owned by the Grauniad) has to date failed to issue a correction. As HonestReportingUK recommends its readers:

Rachel Shabi’s article fails to meet journalistic standards and basic requirements for accuracy. At a very minimum The Observer should publish a correction concerning the location and status of Modi’in.

Please demand that The Observer takes the appropriate action by sending your comments to its readers’ editor –

We ask that you do the same.

The Language of Hate

There was quite a revealing exchange on a Harry’s Place comment thread today involving Lee Barnes, the BNP’s Legal Director. Barnes managed to string a few sentences together with this:

Compared to the genocide, terrorism, ethnic cleansing, bombings, murders and mayhem during the creation of the state of Israel, the arson attack upon one french building (if it was an arson attack) is notable only for its modesty and moderation.

Harrys Place is the most outspoken defender of Israel and hence Israels war for the creation of the Israeli state.

Therefore to defend Israel but to attack the French is hypocrisy and moral cant of the highest order.

I also praise the valiant actions of the American patriots who established the Republic, who also fought a war for their liberty.

Edmund Standing you truly are an infantile, silly little boy arent you.

As Thomas Jefferson wrote ” The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots “.

And we all know how often the tree of liberty has been refreshed in Israel dont we, not just with the blood of patriots but also the blood of Palestinians.

One mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter.

Recently, Barnes stated this:

When the Tories get into power Israel will run Britain,

At the moment Israel via the US runs Britain, but after Camerons ‘Conservative Friends of Israel’ Cabal are elected into power solely by a sickened British people who cannot vote Labour (and who are brainwashed by the Zionist dominated media not to vote BNP) then the Zionist entity will control Britains political system directly.

Next stop will be WW3 against Iran, the latest insane venture of the Zionists in their evil quest for global domination by Israel and its puppet America.

Interesting how this kind of discourse could easily have been penned by one of the numerous CiF hatemongers. And it seems Edmund Standing made a similar observation:

This is not the first time. If Barnes could drop the racism against black and Asian people, he would feel very much at home amongst the Israel hating revolutionary class warriors of the far-left. Or he could join up the Islamists, just like David Myatt, another pseudo-intellectual crank from the far-right.

You make me sick

The toleration of antisemitic discourse on “Comment is Free” is simply breathtaking. Here’s a comment from the Shai Hermesh thread:

Yet comments like this are par for the course in one form or another simply because Guardian management abjectly refuses to ban commenters engaging in this type of discourse.

Alan, Georgina, Matt and Brian you all make me sick to the stomach.

The Murder of Self-Awareness – Hamas’ abuse of the Palestinian People

This is a guest post by Mitnaged

It is impossible for a journalist not to have biases, but the mark of an ethical journalist is to be sufficiently aware and not to let them enter what he/she reports. If this cannot be avoided then the journalist should state those biases openly so that the reader can make up his/her mind as to the extent they influence what is written.

The Guardian’s journalists, and CiF’s anti-Israel stable in particular, appear not to notice the extent to which their biases influence what they write.  Indeed, in many cases it seems that they deliberately allow their biases to influence their work.   I have written elsewhere about cognitive dissonance, which I believe is the reason for the persistence of Jew- and Israel-hatred on CiF regardless of the objective and verifiable evidence which refutes all haters’ arguments for holding onto it.  However that article merely scratched the surface – there is much much more.

For example, another strand of this rigid and persisting hatred of Israel and its population, and often of Jews generally, might be the over identification by the haters with those who they perceive to be the underdogs, to the extent that the haters adopt the attributions of those underdogs about the causes of their distress.

The perennial belligerent self-pity of successive Palestinian governments has undoubtedly rubbed off on their people, in spite of the fact that Palestinians received in the order of $550 million for 2008 in humanitarian aid from the rest of the world (see also here and here) .  Accompanying this, and no doubt carefully stoked by Hamas’ propaganda machine or the fear of Hamas, is the exaggerated sense of entitlement we see exhibited so often by Islamists.

Hamas and Fatah before it, as well as the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank, believe that they are entitled to such aid because they are who they are. There is no indication from them that they recognise that they are at least partly (some would argue mostly) responsible for the parlous state of their economy and could do much to improve it.  Worse, they seem to be incapable of realising that their current course of action – terror against Israel – not only is not working, but is making matters much, much worse for their people.

What makes such people persist in a view of the world which actually does them harm?  Part of their rigidity may well be because they cannot bear the discomfort of having to deal with cognitive dissonance caused by argument and proof that such a world view is wrong, but a good deal of it arises, I believe, from the fact that such people are stuck at the egocentrism stage of their psychological and emotional development.

Egocentrism which endures beyond early childhood may be defined both a moral limitation and a cognitive one. Morally egocentric people are fixed only on their own thoughts and needs and consistently fail to take into account for the needs and intentions of others in making their decisions about how to act.  Different from this is egocentrism as a cognitive limitation:  people with cognitive egocentrism have neurologically-based difficulty ”reading” others’ mental states and considering events from another person’s perspective.   They also lack empathy.

Toddlers and young preschoolers are egocentric because they are not developed enough and lack the cognitive resources to see the world from alternative perspectives.   However, successive Palestinian governments have exhibited both moral and cognitive egocentrism as evidenced in their decision-making and their treatment of their own people as well as the cause and effect attributions they make in public about the mess into which they have got their people.

Richard Landes highlights this handicap of the Arab/Muslim mindset.  The second link on his page is to an interview with a UN representative of the Arab League whose reply to a perfectly apposite question about why Hamas does not stop shelling southern Israel, looks at first as if it evidences the reaction to the cognitive dissonance I have referred to elsewhere, but of which he appears not to be aware. I also believe that the UN representative could resort to the excuse he gave because he is stuck in the moral and cognitive egocentrism I refer to above, and which, in an adult, is a handicap.

More recently, cognitive egocentrism has been placed within another paradigm, that of Theory of Mind. A person has a fully developed theory of mind when s/he is able to evidence at least the following:

  1. That s/he knows that she and other people have minds, ie that they have thoughts, beliefs, feelings, desires, intentions, and the like.

  1. That s/he is able to understand her/his own thoughts and feelings, and infer other people’s thoughts, beliefs, feelings, desires, and intentions from their behaviour (including what they say) with reasonable accuracy.

  1. That s/he is disposed to use this information about other people’s thoughts, beliefs, feelings, desires, and intentions in making decisions about how to act in social contexts. In particular, s/he is able to see the world from the perspective of other people.

It may be that Islamists and their fellow travellers are developmentally stuck and lack theory of mind. This is certainly evidenced in the video excerpt above of the interview with the Arab League representative to the UN, where he assumed that his excuse for the continued shelling of southern Israel from Gaza would be accepted unquestioningly, although he is not a jihadi.

The failure to develop a theory of mind comes about from stuckness at the egocentrism phase of development. People can become stuck there because of neurological factors, such as brain injury, or because of gross abuse in their formative years.   Here one has to ask about the motivation for and the effects of programming children to accept such abuse, a state of affairs adopted wholesale by Hamas in its kindergartens and schools (see here ).

There is a growing body of evidence, which shows that emotional and other abuse can also affect the physiology of the brain and its capability to lay down the synaptic connections which will result in successful cognitive development, including the capability to move beyond the cognitive egocentrism phase.  According to Seigel, 1995 and 1996, the child’s sense of the self in interaction with others will be severely impaired in cases, for example, of familial child abuse.  For these reasons, the deepest sense of self awareness, of core consciousness, may be profoundly influenced by early experiences in infancy and childhood.   (Author’s note:  Given this and other research it is reasonable to suggest that this “deepest sense of self-awareness” – from which develops empathy and a theory of mind – are seriously compromised in those Palestinian children exposed to Hamas “death games” and cartoon videos praising martyrdom in Gaza and the West Bank,).

It is almost a given that the abusers themselves lack any theory of mind or capability for empathy and doubtless for the same reasons, otherwise they could not do what they do.   They have an instrumental approach to these children and to anyone else they believe they can use to pursue a course which, to them, is self-evidently the right one.  That being the case they have no hesitation in deliberately compromising the mental health and cognitive development of future generations of Palestinians, the better to transmit their legacy of Israel- and Jew-hatred, and, because they are unable to locate the source of the abuse to be within themselves, and they lack the self-control to prevent themselves from acting it out, they will invariably blame Israel/Jews for “forcing” them to do that.

Playing with Fire

Seth Freedman’s CiF article of December 14th elicited a particularly virulent barrage of comments from readers which, given both the subject and the content of the article, should hardly have come as a surprise. However, it seems that even Seth himself was shocked by some of the responses – let’s take a look at them and see why.

First, a glimpse of the real face of CiF:


14 Dec 2009, 11:34AM


I talked about the subject.

Though i do agree, CIF isnt have as fun if youre not atagonising/atagonised.

There was the inevitable advocate of the BDS movement:


14 Dec 2009, 11:02AM

Respecting the all the individuals and organisations that document the numerous human rights abuses carried out against Palestinians, the question for us in the UK is what can we do. One small thing we can do is to support the growing movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.

Supporters of a one-state ‘solution’:


14 Dec 2009, 11:24AM

If only the Palestinian leadership had the courage, or ability, to immediately abandon the silly two-decade long “peace process” and declare their intention to pursue one democratic, secular Palestinian-Israeli state. I bet Israel would take notice then.


14 Dec 2009, 6:32PM

Seth, you have been on issues about occupied Palestine for sometime, I appreciate your practical experiences of everyday life of no dignity. They have lived 62-year nightmare through illegal occupation of militant nation.

After decades of wars, bloodshed and failed negotiations what should we do? Most Western governments, the dictators in the Muslim world and political feuds among Hamas and PA believe in a two state solution. However, a two state solution would be suicidal for the Palestinian Muslims.

Islam prohibits giving up hand-span of land to a foreign occupier. It will only appease Israel’s aggression and ethnic cleansing. Agreeing to two-state solution, gives last chance to protect its illegal gains. Israeli Prime Minister is on record saying, “If the day comes when the two state solution collapses and we face a South African style struggle for equal voting rights, then as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished.”

Muslim governments who while attacking Israel in their speeches are in reality protecting it.

When will it end?

The claim that Israel –all of it – is an ‘illegal’ state:


14 Dec 2009, 12:00PM

The hate that these Settlers exhibit will in time become a cancer for the illegal state of Israel

And even a link to NK, so presumably this poster thinks there should not be an Israeli state at all!


14 Dec 2009, 12:07PM

This article reports just a small fraction of the true horror and misery in the Israeli occupied territories.

Though the author gives plenty of food for thought he does not give a clue as to what the readers could do to improve the situation for the Palestinians, nor what ought to be expected from politicians around the world.

Here is a start:

Next, the inevitable Nazi analogy:


14 Dec 2009, 11:41AM

I don’t see the problem with calling Gaza a concentration camp. It’s certainly an open air prison with no supplies being allowed in and very few people allowed out. The people inside are near starvation. Just because it doesn’t precisely resemble concentration camps of the past does not mean it is not one of the present.

Unsurprisingly, the same commentator saw fit to downplay Palestinian terror whilst equating Israeli self defence with terrorist action:


14 Dec 2009, 10:41AM


Just remind me….who are the terrorists again?

Erm – Israel.

‘If a elephant is stood on a mouse’s tail, the mouse will not appreciate it if you treat them both equally.’

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

In this instance, supporters of Israel consistently argue equivalence between Israeli and Palestinian terror. Isolated from their context, both should obviously be condemned. However with context, it is clear that the terror that Israel, with the world’s fourth largest army, is able to bestow, is somewhat more than a decimated people with no infrastructure and most of their democratically elected leaders in prison.

A smattering of ‘Jewish Lobby’ conspiracy:


14 Dec 2009, 12:13PM


14 Dec 2009

Israel knows they can blackmail the U.S government into keeping the cheque book open. AIPAC and some few votes to be had in California makes sure of that.

As long as Israel cannot see any country in the M.E that can match it in the battle front, Israel will simply prefer the current situation and annex as much land it can because it can.

All Israel can see as response to its man inhumanity to man in Palestine is an “emotional” response. Until there is a price to pay for its sins, Israel will simply continue in its current bad ways.

Demonisation and dehumanisation of both settlers and Israelis in general:


14 Dec 2009, 2:09PM

Great article, Seth, thank you. It’s business as usual for the settler thieves and their armed thugs.

“Settlement freeze for 10 months” – what a fucking joke!

I wonder how many people in Tel Aviv would like to have Zionist settlers of the West Bank variety for neighbours? Or perhaps, sadly, the majority of them might not really notice the difference?


14 Dec 2009, 10:59AM

Another depressing report about conditions on the ground. But who is listening? Who cares?

Israel lost its moral compass a long time ago. It has no shame, no compassion and does not care what the outside world thinks about it. Israel will continue treating the Palestinian people as less than human for as long as the USA/UK allow it to.

Some have clearly been influenced by the Sand/Koestler theories, in specific cases mixed with the ‘chosen people’ trope:


14 Dec 2009, 11:19AM

Let us be thankful that the people of Israel are God’s chosen people. Imagine the suffering that the Palestinians would have to endure if they were not. What saddens me is that if you criticize Israeli policies towards the people that they took the land from, you are an anti-semite. The Palestinians are referred to as terrosist by all Isreali Officials, which seems to me like a calling the victim of a gang rape a whore.

I would also like for someone from Egypt to explain to me why the Egyptains are helping the Isrealis inflict such much suffering on their Arab and Muslim brothers? Secondly, when in Egyptain history did Egyptains ever hold Caucasians/Europeans in bondage? It appears to me that all of the Jews that coming to Israel are non-semitantic people. I admit I don’t know and that’s why I’m asking, and readingf Arthur Koestler’s The Thirteenth Tribe, I’m even more confused.


14 Dec 2009, 2:03PM


Any chance of any elaboration on the expression – ‘ancestral land’.

Does that apply to Jews?

The real tragedy of this situation is that the Palestinian ‘Arabs’ are (mainly) the descendants of those Jews who stayed on their ancestral lands and recognised Mohammed as a prophet, while the Israelis are (mainly) the descendants of those Jews who emigrated – mostly voluntarily and as economic migrants, some forcibly – during the Roman Imperium two thousand years ago, and didn’t.

It’s a fact that the ‘Palestinian Arabs’ are genetically closer to the pre-Roman inhabitants of Palestine than the modern ‘Israelis’ are. This isn’t an ethnic war between different races – it’s a fratricidal war between close relations.


14 Dec 2009, 11:47AM


So like what’s your point? Fact, fiction, half truths, who really knows. the book is controversial, but could there be some truth in it however small? I can just imagine who the critics are and why they would be such critics.

None the less, my beef is at how mean spirited God’s chosen people are conducting themselves. To me if you are going to carry that mantle, then it places an enormous amount of responsibility on your shoulders. If you are God’s chosen people, then show me why God choose you. For me you should be showing the world compassion, peace and rightousness. Getting the world to do away with weapons of mass destruction, and bringing a message of peace and love, etc.

Yea I know, what color is the sky in my world.


Then there are those who just plain distort the facts to fit their world view:


14 Dec 2009, 12:14PM

There is one thing that does puzzle me: How come the Gazans are supposedly starving but never seem to starve to death?

because the Gazans receive food aid. They’re supposed to get around 100+ trucks a day, but often the Israeli government allows far fewer. In some periods the number of trucks allowed dropped to 37.

So no, they don’t starve to death, but the conditions are very poor. You’ll note that the person you’re attacking never actually claimed starvation – he said the Gazans are close to it. Had you but looked, you would have seen the difference.

Did you also know that children’s toys are forbidden by the Israeli government as well? I wonder what particular act of idle malice is responsible for that decree.


14 Dec 2009, 3:35PM

Marwan was subjected to three weeks of torture, according to Amnesty International. It included shabbah- position torture.

All Palestinian detainees- whatever their age- are maltreated and Sydk must be aware of the numerous surveys that detail the behaviour of “security” personnel towards them. Even towards minors. Civilised countries don’t put twelve year olds in leg-irons and blindfolds.

The fact that they are transferred to a foreign country is, in itself , a breach of the Geneva Conventions.


14 Dec 2009, 5:39PM

In Middle East, Gaza was already a blood bath as Obama took over. Some thought that the ‘man of change’ would intervene and at least pursue Israel to put an end to the economic blockade of Gaza and stop expanding settlements on Palestinian land. On the contrary, Israel is expanding settlements faster than ever before. The economic blockade of Gaza enforced by adopting the Bush administration’s policy of staged withdrawal effectively meaning they are there to stay.

True to the words – A Palestinian state created out of the remnants of pre 1967 is not a viable state, it will have no real resources, no real sovereignty and would be reliant on Israel for its survival.

However, what people forget in this propaganda about the ‘road-map’ is that this so-called Palestinian state will be little glorified prison camp, where guards are Palestinian instead of Israeli.

Now, if there are any teachers or lecturers of history reading this, I suggest that they sit very firmly down before progressing to the next four comments.


14 Dec 2009, 5:27PM


14 Dec 2009, 12:18PM


It is “ancestral” land to the Jews because the Jews claim that “God” gave it to them. It is ancestral land to the Palestinians because their ancestors actually lived on it.


It doesn’t apply to Jews.

Just to Arabs.

Thank you for clearing that up.

…er…this is the West Bank we are talking about – not Israel. I think the Jewish people were catered for generously enough in 1948 when 740,000 Palestinians were violently removed from their houses to make way for the new Israel. What makes them believe that they should be shoved off their land again? ….oh yeah….of course…..God gave them the land.

(The rabid Israel propagandists will be on to the moderator to have this post removed, but every word of this message can be backed up with hard evidence)


14 Dec 2009, 3:55PM

What happens if a Native American in the US tries to throw a jew out of their house? Do they accept that the Native Americans have had a presence in North America for centuries before any jews showed up?

Would Israel support the eviction of American jews from their homes by Native Americans?


14 Dec 2009, 6:14PM

JamesSmith993 ,

Israel won its pre-1967 borders in an aggresive, offensive war carried out by European jews on the native population.


14 Dec 2009, 11:45AM

with no respect whatsoever, you should seriously reconsider owning a keyboard/being connected to the internet/not having someone over the age of three reading your comments before you post them

And you sir should think about what you are writing before you put it to paper.

You claim the land as a gift of your god but they have the right to it through the land which they have tend since before the Israelites first invaded Canaan four thousand years ago. Religion, like conquerors come and go and in their time the people have followed a multitude of gods and been subject to many different rulers. So you sir had better decide whether you are a conqueror, stealing another people’s land based on ancient and unprovable myths or whether you wish to live in peace with the Palestinians. You cannot have it both ways, because eventually you will be called to task over your stewardship of the land and the people whom yoiu have chosen to oppress.

All this was too much for Seth Freedman who began his own campaign to try to combat some of the antisemitism and just plain offensive comments on the thread, but achieved the distinction of even having a reply deleted by a moderator.


14 Dec 2009, 11:22AM


This comment has been removed by a moderator. Replies may also be deleted.


14 Dec 2009, 11:53AM


adnanchrisj – “I don’t see the problem with calling Gaza a concentration camp”

yeah, well, you probably don’t see the problem with the protocols either, but so what? you not seeing the problem doesn’t mean there isn’t one – as countless people from both sides of the i/p debate will tell you. ps, bailliegillies wasn’t talking about gaza, he/she was referring to the south hebron hills,since that area is the subject of my piece – but well done for hijacking the argument and redirecting it to the place you so desperately wanted it to end up.


14 Dec 2009, 12:58PM

adnanchrisj – “Btw, Seth, it is a little extreme to think me a fanatical anti-semite because I have noticed the desperate situation in Gaza”

we’ve all noticed the desperate situation in gaza. it’s just that you had to go ten steps further and call it a concentration camp – hence you’ve been hammered by most of the commenters on this thread, myself included. whether you’re a fanatical anti-semite or not is, of course, not the issue at – i apologise if i gave the impression that i wanted to discuss your political leanings and prejudices rather than your specious and hyperbolic fabrications about the true state of play in gaza.


14 Dec 2009, 1:42PM


adnanchrisj – ” the persistent efforts to describe anyone who has differences in opinion on Gaza to you as an anti-semite seriously damages the fight against racism”

don’t put words in my mouth – i didn’t call you an anti-semite for your views on gaza, i just called your statement deluded and dishonest, and the protocols comment was a fair way of expressing my disbelief that you are seemingly entirely willing to swallow whole specious and fabricated propaganda. that you think describing gaza as a concentration camp is helpful for driving forward the debate speaks volumes about your inability to rationally and respectfully engage with your opponents – so for you now to turn all meek and hurt just cos i (and plenty of others) responded in kind to your ranting is a bit see-through, and definitely doesn’t wash.


14 Dec 2009, 1:33PM


harvey21 – “Sorry Seth ,but if you lie down with dogs dont be surprised when you get fleas”

1. i didn’t express any surprise, and 2) i don’t see why you think me supporting an end to the israeli authorities’ mistreatment of the palestinians means i’m lying down with the hysterical and misinformed likes of adnanchrisj any more than i am with the (far more amenable) likes of rabbis for human rights, for example. it’s you that connects the dots with your fevered ‘they’re either with us or against us’ mindset, not me. as far as i’m concerned, i’m not in bed with any particular group or set of supporters – i just say my piece as a citizen of this country with an interest in seeing the situation change for the better for all involved.

Now I don’t know about you, but I would really like to be able to feel sorry for Seth after all this. Unfortunately I can’t, because to most of us it is perfectly obvious that if you repeatedly throw paraffin on a bonfire, there’s a good chance you’re going to get burned. Freedman has constantly fanned the flames of antisemitic and anti-Israeli hatred at CiF; he should not, therefore, be surprised when they leap out at him too. Antisemitism is a very crude tool which does not distinguish between ‘good’ Jews and ‘bad’ Jews, no matter how much Seth and others like him would like to believe otherwise.

Santa’s Little Helper

This is a guest post by AKUS

Have you ever wondered why little Jewish children in the Holy Land do not get Christmas presents?

It’s not Santa’s fault, actually. Like the Tooth Fairy, his little helpers seem unfamiliar with the geography of the Holy Land, and despite his best efforts they misdirect him. Israel is so technologically advanced I suspect that some elves unfamiliar with technology may be programming the GPS on his sleigh incorrectly.

For example, one of Santa’s little helpers, Rachel Shabi, yet another Israel-bashing Johnny (or Jill) come lately from Britain, who seems to have to made aliyah only in order to write nasty articles about Israel for the Guardian (one wonders if these Guardianistas receive the usual assistance from the Aliyah Desk in London to help them get to Israel) gave Santa the wrong directions to the little town of Modi’in.

Apparently concerned about the possibility of further violence in Gaza following the shooting of three Palestinians, Shabi wrote the following for the Guardian:

According to Israeli officials they had been scouting the area for a possible infiltration operation, but according to Hamas officials and medics they had been searching for scrap metal to salvage.

(You have to be pretty naïve to buy that scrap metal story but I suppose it was the best Hamas could come up with at short notice … unless they were looking for remnants of Kassams that didn’t make it over the fence)

More serious in its implications, however, was the shooting dead of three members of Fatah’s armed wing – the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades – in a raid on the northern West Bank city of Nablus, apparently in retaliation for the shooting of an Israeli driving near the settlement at Shavei Shomron. …

…It also follows the discovery of an improvised explosive device on a busy road leading to the huge Israeli settlement at Modi’in with a letter from an al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades unit claiming responsibility. [emphasis added]

Well, let’s leave the politics aside for once, and focus on the geography, since its Christmas time, and Santa needs to know how to find the good Jewish children in the little town of Modi’in.

Here’s a map of Modi’in:

Notice two statements in Shabi’s article that probably confused Santa:

1. It is west of the dashed 1949 Armistice Agreement Lines (the Green Line) (there is a double line around a “bulge” or former non-man’s land in that area). Since we typically use the word “settlement” for areas built up by Israel to the east of the Green Line, it is misleading to call it a “settlement”, just as Tel Aviv is not a “settlement”

2. It is not huge. It is about 1 mile square. If you include the entire Modi’in-Reut-Maccabim complex, it is about 19 sq miles, or about 4 miles by 5 miles. I am sure many of my readers drive greater distances to work where they live.

Those basic errors in location and geography explain why Santa couldn’t deliver the Christmas presents this year to the good Jewish children of in the little town of Modi’in.

For those who don’t believe in Santa Claus, or at least those who don’t believe he gives Christmas presents to good Jewish children, the moral of the story is, like the story of the Tooth Fairy.

On the rare occasions that the Guardian prints a “fact” about Israel:

If you want “the tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth” – check it.

Very often their “facts” are – wrong.

Tis the season of goodwill on CiF

The Guardian has an open thread where the guardinistas wish eachother season greetings. Here’s a comment I randomly picked up on the thread:


27 Dec 2009, 12:27PM

Thank you Grauniad for endless fun on CiF and for keeping me sane. The people who annoy me most are probably the right wing, self-righteous, war-mongering Americans that keep popping up – so a toast to them also, in the hope that if they are reading the Guardian some sense must rub off on them somehow. Also to those poor, victimised Zionists out to crush the world – peace! And to those religious who also spend time on CiF swimming so constantly against the tide – courage! To the Islamaphobes and philes, America phobes and philes, Israeli phobes and philes – goodwill to all men. To the armies of Chinese government lackeys who spend days and nights hunched over hot computers on VPNs – welcome to the world!

Bless you Grauniad for CiF and if I must pay for you, yes I will, but then where will all the loonies go?

The sanctimonious bigotry dripping from this comment is so utterly disgusting and so representative of the type that are attracted to “Comment is Free”.

Birds of a Feather

Daniel Machover’s CiF article of December 16th was addressed at the time on these pages. Since then additional information has come to light such as the Times report  in which Hamas claim to be directly involved in seeking arrest warrants against Israeli nationals, and the report in the Muslim News  that earlier this month Mr. Machover attended a seminar organised by MEMO on the subject of ‘Universal Jurisdiction Against Israeli War Criminals’. Apparently, this section of British law need only be applied to nationals of one nation. That, of course, is hardly surprising seeing as the Chair of MEMO is none other than Dr. Daud Abdullah, signatory of the Istanbul declaration and leader of the Muslim Council of Britain’s boycott of Holocaust Memorial Day. Birds of a feather do indeed flock together.

Machover’s article had the many lovers of conspiracy theories regarding the mythical Jewish lobby out in force.


16 Dec 2009, 1:54PM

i was wondering what the editor of the jewish chronicle was doing on the c4-news, discussing the issue. any ideas?


16 Dec 2009, 3:23PM

David Milliband? Son of a famous father who was opposed to Zionism?

Where does Milliband stand with respect to Jewish Zionism?

Does he perhaps have a vested interest here?

Perhaps, if so, he should declare his interest?


16 Dec 2009, 5:39PM

How the f*ck has the recommended tally for ThevoiceofIsrael doubled in the 15 minutes?


16 Dec 2009, 5:45PM

I agree 100% with the author of the article. AS it is it seems more difficult to prosecute an Israeli for war crimes in the UK than it would be in Israel, and easier to change laws to prevent this happening in the UK at request from Israel than to change laws in Israel in order to allow the prosecution of those accused of war crimes.

Some people keep complaining about the different treatment of Israel. Now Israel , or Israeli leaders, are being treated exactly like the leader of Sudan, like Milosevitch, like war criminals from West Africa, from Ruanda, like Hamas, and those same people apparently don’t like that Israel gets the same treatment than others.


16 Dec 2009, 6:04PM

What Ms Livni is finding out, is that the world is becoming a less tolerant place for those who indiscriminately allow the murder of women and children. Even those supported by the Americans are now just coming under a little pressure. This pressure will grow and Ms Livni and her likes will find their foreign travel restricted to a handful of locations. The world is slowly changing in this regard. Get used to it Ms Livni. And if you manage to avoid justice in this world, you certainly will not in the next.


16 Dec 2009, 6:11PM

Sorry, Tzipi, no tea and sympathy for you here.

Better visit the USA if you want that. Pretty soon, it’s the only country you’ll be able to visit.

Besides, we’re still mighty annoyed over Irgun and Stern Gang terror activities in the British Mandate for Palestine. Or did you think that we’d forgotten?


16 Dec 2009, 10:28PM

Sorcey: I’l tell you how ties with Israel will be damaged if EU and UK withdraw their support for Israel’s policies. — Israel will withdraw their financial support of political parties. – Check out the extent of that support (if you can!). What other power (apart from a USA supported military/nuclear force) does Israel have? But it’s a good question. Ask it of the politicians. Maybe they are afraid of Israel taking unilateral nuclear action against Iran with a pre-emptive strike. Israel is not above doing that. And they won’t give her political ‘partners’ any notice before they do it. In fact, Israel is a rogue state – liable to take military action at any time. This is what USA, UK and EU are really afraid of. Did Israel give any warning of their Gaza offensive? Did they warn Gaza Palestinians – “Stop what you are doing or face shock and awe; and we will shower unlimited force down upon you, with no consideration given to civilian casualties.” Of course not. Correct me if I am wrong.


17 Dec 2009, 12:31PM

Single issue groups who have neither the national interest of the UK or indeed the furtherance of justice

Some people say this about the Israel lobby.

Of course many regulars at CiF have, in true Alice-in-Wonderland-style, appointed themselves both judge and jury and are now doing an excellent impression of the Red Queen.


16 Dec 2009, 1:49PM

This is a classic and shining example of how British politicians are so totally at odds with general public opinion. As indeed are the apologetic nonsense spouted about this in the right wing media.

The foreign office and politicians continue to describe Israel as our ‘strategic partner’, a very high number of MPs are members of their friends of Israel groups.

Yet people are sick and tired of the way Israel treats Palestinians, land grabbing, blockages, humiliating treatment, settlement building, the bullying IDF and the way it describes anyone who opposes such as ‘terrorists’, ‘anti semitic’, or ‘self-hating jews’.

There is a prima facie case for calling operation cast lead a war crime and putting the leaders of this on trial for war crimes.

Just as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are not in my name, Israel as a strategic partner is very definitely also not in my name.

Shame on British politicians, can they sink any further into the mud?


16 Dec 2009, 3:47PM


That said I can never understand exactly why Israel gets singled out for this sort of invective.

Maybe you should read the article again that lists the war crimes committed by Israel and then maybe you will understand.


16 Dec 2009, 4:06PM


Arrest Hamas when they come to London? are you so ignorant of the facts on the ground? You don’t even know that Israel has created a prison where it’s Palestinans cannot travel through land, air or sea. The PM of Palestine even has to seek permission from the Israeli Authorities to travel abroad.

Palestinians die on the way to hospitals because of check-points, they are denied entrance to foreign universities and even wishing to carry out a holy pilgirmage is met with huge obstacles and denials.

But I assume you are another ill-informed creature who wants to make an intelligent argument in an area of politics where you cannot be bothered – or simply lack the intellectual means to make sense out of things.

Some are not above equating Israel’s actions of self-defence with Nazi policy.


16 Dec 2009, 2:35PM

You know, I suspect that if Hamas leaders did come to Britain (which of course assumes that Israel would let them out of the Occupied Territories and Britain would let them in) the courts would certainly issue an arrest warrant if the appropriate evidence were presented. There are plenty of Islamist terrorists in British jails already, after all, but as yet no Israeli politicians.

Pinochet had a similar spot of bother here a few years back, for similar reasons.

And Israel doesn’t appear to have a problem with the state-sanctioned perpetrators of war crimes in WW2 being arrested and tried in Britain or other countries.

Nusadua, there is no “outpouring of support” for Israel in the UK. Most people don’t give a damn about Israel. The ones that do (aside from Jews and Muslims, who tend to have an axe to grind) are becoming increasingly disillusioned that a country which at one point seemed to represent something positive has become such a nasty, racist, expansionist, warmongering disaster area. This Livni business will further reinforce the notion that Israeli violence is at least no better than Palestinian violence, and I suspect in that respect Machover et al will have been quite successful.

Others equate Israeli politicians with convicted terrorists and mass murderers.


16 Dec 2009, 3:03PM

Negotiations with Israeli politicians and soldiers can still be conducted; in Holloway and Brixton prisons.

It works for Marwan Baghouti, not to mention the Hamas victors in the recent elections.

On every CiF thread it seems that there has to be the obligatory BDS advocate.


17 Dec 2009, 11:06AM

ONeill70 – I agree that the US and it allies, including the UK , should be held to account for the devastation that they have caused in Afganistan and Iraq. At some stage boycotts might be an considered an appropriate way to acheive this.

Meanwhile the boycott of Israeli goods is a response to the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), supported by 180 Palestinian organisations and unions.

There are also those claiming that Israel’s elected government is racist, and those making some rather strange comparisons of Zionism to various totalitarian regimes.


17 Dec 2009, 10:50AM

Any country should arrest Livni and her disgraceful pals. This is what prisons were built for.. to hold the violent scum of society. Olmert could have the cell next door while the ghost of Sharon staggers about the corridors.

Rather than apologize to the criminals we should concentrate on hiding the key.

To those who say Britain is so bad it couldn’t possibly pass judgment on Israel, you should try speaking out of your mouths. Following this argument we’d never get anywhere because our own darkness would surely make any attempt at progress pointless. How could we have abandoned slavery and persuaded others to do so, when we were once slavers ourselves? How could we speak out against anything, ever, because we did something very much like it in 1876. We invaded Iraq but we didn’t want to, it’s a cronic shortfall of democracy and eventually we’ll get to the bottom of it. The Israeli’s voted for racists who advocate war. It just suits their cheerleaders to tar everyone with the same shit.

Let’s not talk about it until we’re all perfect, that’s their plan. Long before we gain perfection they’ll have finished stealing all the land.


17 Dec 2009, 11:11AM


In particular, I will suggest that Machover – as an Israeli whose own family has been on the end of the particularly uncouth methods employed by the Zionist state,


Why not just say “his country” or “the government” or (shock horror!) “Israel” at the end there?

Zionism is a political movement and Israel is its state. That is a simple statement of political fact. Calling Israel “the Zionist state” is not qualitatively different from calling, say, the USSR “the Stalinist state” in its day. You wouldn’t think a sentence such as

In particular, I will suggest that Machover – as a Soviet citizen whose own family has been on the end of the particularly uncouth methods employed by the Stalinist state

Controversial would you? Ditto “the Hashemite state”, “the Al-Saud dictatorship”, “the Ba’athist state”, etc. etc.

Same for Israel – the Zionist state.

Now this one made me laugh – you see, it’s all about the oil!


16 Dec 2009, 1:30PM

The “rule of law” and “human rights” are subject to political dictates.

The zionist entity is a loyal ally of the West.

The USA and EU give it unconditional economic, military and diplomatic support in spite of its crimes for geopolitical and geostrategic reasons in the region of the world which contains the largest energy reserves.

And this one quite simply had me puzzled – Jewish self-determination in the region, without Zionism?


17 Dec 2009, 11:19AM


Matzpen can speak for himself but I think he would probably say that Israel doesn’t have to be a Zionist state any more than Iran has to be an Islamic Republic. None of the three synonyms you offer is an exact one by any means.

Very, very, true.

For me the “Zionist state” label goes hand in hand with:

1. Splitting Israeli Jews from Zionism, its state, its actions and its policies; and

2. Refounding their self-determination in the region on a democratic basis through the de-Zionisation of the Israeli state.

Then there are those who still have a problem with understanding anti-semitism.


16 Dec 2009, 3:10PM

Anti-Semitic is repeatedly, sometimes deliberately, applied incorrectly to mean exclusively anti-Jewish. The Arabs are also part of the Semitic peoples and they too have suffered anti-Semitism and continue to do so. If prejudice is discussed it would be more honest, informed and rational to be accurate and describe a person or group as ‘anti-Jewish’, anti-Israel’, ‘anti-Arab’ or anti-Palestinian unless one is intending to describe blanket opposition to, or action against all Semitic peoples precisely because they are Semitic.


16 Dec 2009, 4:44PM


…often it is based on anti-semetism….

Ah yes, so anyone who is apposed to Israel’s behavior; annexing land illegally from its neighbors, the ghettoization of a minority group living within its boarders, war crimes, illegal munitions etc etc… yes anyone who dislikes a country’s behavior automatically hates Jews. Of course, how stupid of me, except of course Israel ? Judaism.

By far the most sycophantic (and frankly ridiculous) comment I have seen for a long time appeared on this thread too.


16 Dec 2009, 2:06PM


Thank you for that very clear and brave article, Daniel, and for all your important work on that crucial subject. There?s another aspect to that, which is the way it works at the home front, in Israel. The whole ?impunity? campaign of pressing charges against Israeli politicians and military personnel is a designed to bring it home to the Israelis that their country is seen by others as a pariah state; that the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is no longer acceptable, and that constant human right violations and war crimes will not be ignored.

To the readers who thing that the Israelis ?don?t care anyway? what people in Europe think ? this is not the case. It is true that the Baraks, Netanyahus and Liebermans are only interested in the answer to the question ?is the White House ever going to stop us? (the answer to which, by the way, is ?no?, Obama or no Obama). However, the Israeli educated middle classes ? the people who shape the nation?s public opinion and common mood, are growingly worried. They realize that accusing the whole world of being ?anti-Semitic? is no longer going to cut it. They do not want to feel isolated and scorned. And they are beginning to suspect that Israel?s current behavior is leading it towards becoming an outcast among the nations. Self image and its importance in politics should not be underrated. It is a crucial motive in political behavior of nations and individuals. Many Israelis are beginning to feel that they can not render themselves enlightened liberals while allying themselves with war crimes committed by their governments. It is not going to make them cheer for the idea that Israelis should face international courts for war crimes, but it may well make them reconsider their own stances.

The readers who commented that Blair and Brown should be ready to face similar dangers of being charged for war crimes in Iraq while traveling, are absolutely right. There are more than enough people in the UK who could do with a little wake-up call to their own political self image; too many people who talk on behalf of some imagined collective ?we?, and who are convinced that ?we? have done something completely benign and necessary in Iraq, and that the Iraqis, and the world in general, should be eternally grateful to ?us?.

Indeed, Israelis are not the only ones who suffer from false consciousness, and Israel is not the only instigator of war crimes. This does not mean that Israeli leaders should get away with murder. It only means that nobody else should.

And just who is Daphna Baram? Well as you can see, she is a Guardian contributor who has also written a book commissioned by the Guardian  and sometimes writes for the New Statesman, but also finds time to attend debates and ‘cultural’ events at Oxford University.

I imagine that she and Daniel (they seem to be on first name terms) get on like the proverbial house on fire. Yet another case of ‘birds of a feather’. In her comment Ms. Baram makes some rather sweeping generalisations about the Israeli people and their attitudes. As an Israeli myself, I would like to say this to Ms. Baram and Mr. Machover: at this very moment there are thousands of Israeli soldiers of all religions, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Druze and others who are suffering the cold and the mud to protect our country from the very people with whom you and others of your ilk collaborate. At this very moment there is one Israeli who has been held captive for 3 ½ years, with no respect for his human rights whatsoever and in breach of every known convention, by the very terrorists you work for and with. Gilad Shalit and all those thousands of cold, wet soldiers are the type of people who have a right to call themselves Israeli. Those who willingly and knowingly co-operate with Israel’s enemies do not deserve to be included in that category.

I Wonder What She Said…

There’s something ironic when Alan Rusbridger’s daughter, Bella “eff me” Mackie, who is no less than a Guardian moderator, has a comment of hers deleted.

You’d think that after her recent outburst against Melanie Philips she would know better, but then again she has an important Daddy who no doubt will bail her out of this one again.

For more on Bella Mackie click here.


Well lo and behold the mystery has been solved. Within a matter of hours of posting this, Bella Mackie’s deleted comment magically got reinstated. Funny that when you’re the daughter of the biggest wig at the Guardian! Here’s the reinstated comment:

Now for those of you reading this,  I’m sure like me you’re thinking to yourself what on earth is “Angrezistan”.

Well it turns out that Angrez means an “English person” in South Asian languages including Hindi and Urdu and the Guardian has even gone as far as to define the term in an article about “Hinglish” terminology. The suffix “stan” is well known for meaning “country” and as we know there are a number of countries in the Asian world that bear this suffix such as Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan. Therefore, the combination of “Angrez” (Hinglish for English) with the suffix “stan” (meaning country) would seem to be a pejorative sobriquet for “England” implying that England has been taken over by English people of South Asian descent.

Now that we understand that the term Angrezistan is a nasty racist slur, lets come back to Bella’s comment to understand the context in which it was made (because unlike a certain newspaper that Bella works for, we happen to believe context is important). She was responding to otmshank who said this:

By Bella responding with “No I like the name Angrezistan. It describes the local mood well.”, she is clearly suggesting that England has been taken over by English people of South Asian descent.

It bears emphasizing that Bella, a Guardian moderator and someone who is supposed to know that racist discourse is prohibited on CiF, was previously reprimanded for saying the following about Melanie Phillips, who ironically is author of the highly acclaimed Londonistan:

Incidentally Bella Mackie’s ad hominem attack on Melanie Phillips that caused so much controversy a couple of months back has still not been deleted by the Guardian.

So there you have it. Bella Mackie accuses Melanie Phillips of being a racist. Bella gets into trouble. Bella engages in the very discourse that she accused Melanie Phillips of. The moderators delete Bella’s comment (to save her backside). Bella is stupid enough to have it reinstated.

You couldn’t make this up even if you tried and the question I’m asking myself is – who does she take after more, the Mackies or the Rusbridgers?