The Guardian, Haneen Zoabi and Raed Salah – a Case Study of the Red-Green Alliance

On June 29th 2011, hours after Sheikh Raed Salah had been arrested in London, The Guardian published an article in his defence on its ‘Comment is Free’ website by Haneen Zoabi.

There are three elements to this story and despite the fact that they may appear to come from different worlds, they in fact have more in common than may first meet the eye. Their binding factor is one: Israel.

Haneen Zoabi is an Arab-Israeli (from Nazareth) member of Israel’s parliament on behalf of ‘Balad‘ – an acronym for ‘Brit Leumit Democratit’ or National Democratic Alliance. It is a secular far-Left Arab party formed in 1995 by Azmi Bishara and others as an expression of dissatisfaction with the Oslo Accords, which were supposed to bring about a two-state solution. Its members reject the concept of a Jewish State – and therefore Jewish self-determination – and seek to establish a bi-national secular one in its place to which Palestinian refugees would be given ‘the right of return’. Concurrently, it supports the establishment of a Palestinian state in the territories captured by Israel from Egypt and Jordan during the Six Day War, including part of Jerusalem.  

Raed Salah is also an Arab-Israeli  – head of the radical northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel (or, as they prefer to be known, the ‘Islamic Movement in ’48 Palestine’) – and a resident and former mayor of the city of Um El Fahm.  The movement’s origins can be traced back to the days of the Arab revolt in Mandate Palestine in 1936, but it gathered momentum as a result of the co-operation between Haj Amin al Husseini and its parent organisation (also that of Hamas), the Muslim Brotherhood.  The signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 was accepted by the movement’s more moderate southern branch –a move which created a permanent rift between it and the northern branch, which rejected the agreements.  The underlying principles of the northern branch are similar to those of Hamas: the rejection of Israel’s right to exist, the establishment of an Islamic state (as part of the Caliphate) in its place and the implementation of Sharia law. It also supports the ‘right of return’ for Palestinian refugees.  

In other words, despite the fact that, according to Salah’s ideology, Haneen Zoabi would no longer have the right to be a secular, uncovered, educated female Arab politician, the ‘red’ of the far Left finds common ground with the ‘green’ of the Islamist movement on one subject: the desire to eliminate the Jewish State from the map.

Salah and Zoabi have another thing in common: both were aboard the ‘Mavi Marmara’ last May when Muslim Brotherhood-linked IHH activists viciously attacked and wounded Israeli soldiers trying to prevent the ship from breaching the naval blockade on Gaza and nine of them were killed as a result. Photographs taken aboard the ship at the time yet only recently published apparently show Zoabi in the vicinity of Turkish activists armed with guns. 

Here is Salah in action after the flotilla: 

And where is the Guardian in all this? Well, it frequently gives a platform to anti-Zionists and in particular those of the far-Left variety, in accordance with the ideologies and activities of some of its own staff such as Seumas Milne. It also frequently acts as a voluntary platform for members of Hamas and sympathisers of that Islamist movement. It is, in other words, the place where red and green meet in order to promote their anti-Israel message and at no time was that more obvious than during the aftermath of the 2010 flotilla which was dutifully promoted by the Guardian according to red/green dictates.

Like Salah and Zoabi, the Guardian too appears to reject the option of negotiation as the preferred manner of solving the Arab-Israeli conflict; its active participation in the ‘Palestine Papers’ affair which effectively put the lid upon the Palestinian Authority’s ability to negotiate anything indicated that Farringdon Road is definitely in the Hamas camp. 

So let us now examine Zoabi’s arguments in favour of Salah, as published by the Guardian. Immediately she tries to attribute the blame for Salah’s arrest to Israel and its supporters, whilst at the same time playing the ‘Islamophobia’ card.  According to British statements on the subject, Salah was arrested under Section 3 of the Immigration Act of 1971 which, to the best of my knowledge,’ Israel and its supporters’ had no part in drafting. Obviously, Zoabi cannot credit the UK authorities with possessing minds of their own.

She refuses to recognise the unpleasant fact that, like many other countries, both Britain and Israel have seen a worrying rise in the popularity of various strains of the Islamist movement in recent years and that measures to limit incitement against non-Muslims, Muslim apostates, women, homosexuals and members of other ethnic groups are part and parcel of a democratic country’s responsibility towards its citizens of all stripes. Raed Salah is not the first (and will probably not be the last) Islamist (or other) hate preacher to be denied entry to or deported from the United Kingdom and that fact has nothing whatsoever to do with ‘Islamophobia’ or clandestine behind the scenes operations by a mythical ‘Zionist lobby’.

Is it surprising that the Guardian should permit Zoabi to promote such ridiculous claims on its virtual pages? Not in the least: it has frequently allowed Islamists and their supporters to sound warning bells of ‘Islamophobia’ (as opposed to the real phenomenon of anti-Muslim bigotry) on its pages as part and parcel of the campaign by British Islamists to silence debate. As for the all-powerful ‘Zionist lobby’; this, of course, is one of the favourite themes on CiF and is promoted by former Foreign Office types, Arabists and Islamists alike.

Zoabi’s falsehoods continue with the statement that:

“Because I took part in the first freedom flotilla to break the illegal and inhuman siege of Gaza, the Israeli establishment has waged a propaganda campaign against me, accusing me of “terrorism”, and demanding the withdrawal of my parliamentary immunity and citizenship. This will be difficult to implement, but it threatens my political legitimacy and defines me as a “risk”.”  

Of course she conveniently forgets to mention that as a Knesset member she swore that “I pledge myself to bear allegiance to the State of Israel and faithfully to discharge my mandate in the Knesset.” Sadly for Haneen Zoabi, the right to collaborate with enemies of her country and to attempt to facilitate the increased influx of weapons from the Iranian regime she so admires into Gaza with the sole purpose of their being used to kill, injure and terrorize the civilians who pay her generous salary is not included in her job description. She also neglects to mention that the sanctions enacted against her following her flotilla escapade were at most symbolic; as she herself said in an interview  with ‘electronic Intifada’ ” The three parliamentary sanctions are nothing — I mean nothing — because I can still use my civic passport”.   

Zoabi then goes on to dismiss criticisms of Salah as ‘fabricated’:

“Unable to produce any legal evidence, the Israeli establishment and its supporters in Britain accuse him of antisemitism. Salah has rebutted the fabricated allegations behind these claims and instructed his lawyers to begin legal action against those repeating them.”

“It appears that the charge of antisemitism is being used as a way of suppressing criticism of Israeli policies. Since when has the struggle for equality become a form of racism? Since when have states that boast of their democratic credentials acquired the right to arrest people for their political views?”

A quick tour around Salah’s (Zoabi endorsed) ‘struggle for equality’ and ‘political views’ shows him to be a supporter of the notion that Jews were pre-warned about the 9/11 terror attacks,  a condemner of America’s action against the “martyr” Osama Bin Laden and a radical homophobe. That alone would probably be enough to drastically reduce his Brownie points with the British Home Secretary but has nothing to do with Israel.

On his home turf, Salah is best known (apart from funding Hamas and having spent five months in prison for assaulting a policeman) for being a very successful inciter of violent riots. His favourite tactic is to whip up fervour by telling his listeners that Israel is attempting to destroy the Al Aqsa mosque.

“On Friday the leader of the Islamic Movement’s northern branch told followers that should Muslims have to choose between renouncing the al-Aqsa Mosque and becoming martyrs they will choose the latter.

“Should the State of Israel make us choose…we will clearly choose to be martyrs,” said Sheikh Raed Salah in the annual al-Aqsa convention in Umm al-Fahm. “We are a nation that does not give up, we will die and win; the al-Aqsa Mosque is not a matter that can be given up on, and we shall win, God willing.”

Thousands of Muslims heeded Salah’s call and made their way to Jerusalem’s Old City early Sunday. Police initially restricted access to the compound – both to tourists and visitors – as a precautionary measure, after learning that residents of east Jerusalem were urged to “come to protect the Mount.” Large police forces were deployed in the Old City as well.”

At a lecture at Haifa University in 2009 he said:

“We love life, our families, our homes and our children, but if they suggest that we give up our principles and holy sites, we would rather die and we will welcome death.”

Salah claimed that the government continued constantly to dig tunnels under the Temple Mount and the al-Aqsa Mosque, and that Netanyahu was planning to complete during his current term what he did not complete during his first one – “to dig additional tunnels under al-Aqsa and rebuild the Temple on the Temple Mount.”  

The Muslim students responded by chanting, “Allahu Akbar” (God is great).”

It is, of course, the prerogative of the British Home Secretary to decide that it is not in the public interest to allow such an obvious master in the incitement of violence to have free access to the already problematic sections of radicalised youth in her society.

 No amount of crying wolf by Haneen Zoabi can transform that into ‘Islamophobia’, just as Israeli opposition to the actions of those who seek to deny Jews the right to self-determination should not be categorised as racism. The Israeli public and government have nothing against Salah and Zoabi because they are Arabs or Muslims; any objections are to their (often violence-related) actions taken as part of their red/green campaign to destroy the Jewish State.

Salah, Zoabi and the Guardian obviously cannot understand the difference. That could well be because none of them have pristine reputations themselves when it comes to anti-racism, and their repeated references to a ‘pro-Israel (ie Jewish/Zionist) lobby’ influencing policy in foreign countries, both in this article and others, are just the tip of that particular iceberg.

Of course the rich irony of it is that of all the countries in the world, Israel and the United Kingdom are members of quite a small but select club of those which would allow people such as Zoabi and Salah such a free rein to disseminate their lies and propaganda, and that especially excludes the types of country which members of the red/green alliance revere and would emulate if their wishes concerning the end of the Jewish State ever came true.  

What the Guardian won’t report: Raed Salah’s not so liberal views on women, gays, and Jihad

H/T to Just Journalism for finding a 2003 Ha’aretz interview with Raed Salah, the radical Islamist preacher who has become a cause celeb among the Guardian”intelligentsia” since he was detained on Tuesday by British authorities due to their concerns he would promote an extremist agenda.

Click image to see video at MEMRI

The questions were posed by Ha’aretz correspondent, Jalal Bana.

JB: Was what happened in the United States on September 11 an act of terrorism or of jihad?

Salah:  “Your question suggests that you want to reach an answer before we know who was behind that action. Does the United States know who perpetrated the attack? Certainly not. And it is not I who say this, but the secretary-general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, who declared that the U.S. does not yet have proof about whom perpetrated the attack.”

(Also, see this even more explicit promotion, by Salah, of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories relating to 9/11)

JB: Do 70 virgins await shahids – martyrs – in paradise?

Salah:  “On this matter, we have proof. It is written in the Koran and in the Suna [the traditions about the life of Mohammed]. This matter is clear. The shahid receives from Allah six special things, including 70 virgins, no torment in the grave, and the choice of 70 members of his family and his confidants to enter paradise with him.”

JB: What is your opinion of the legislation now being discussed in the Knesset, which would grant Muslim women rights similar to those of Jewish women in matters of personal status?

Salah:  “That bill is tantamount to a war on Islam. It is an attempt to dictate different, foreign values that are neither Muslim nor Palestinian values.”

JB: But why shouldn’t Islamic women have the right to choose whether they want their case to be heard in a civil court or a sharia court?

Salah: “There is a difference between freedom, and damage and destruction under the slogan of freedom. We are in favor of freedom for women, which preserves their religious and national identity. We are against fake slogans that are called freedom. The bill would give civil courts the possibility of intervening in every Islamic matter. What we fear is that in the future there will also be intervention [by the Knesset] in the question of the Waqf [Muslim religious trust] lands. That will be a blow to Islam and no one can know what its consequences are liable to be.”

JB: What is your opinion of homosexuality?

Salah: “It is a crime. A great crime. Such phenomena signal the start of the collapse of every society. Those who believe in Allah know that behavior of that kind brings his wrath and is liable to cause the worst things to happen. There is no solution for this, unless the individual’s faith is strengthened.”

Meet Dror Feiler: Flotilla organizer and “peaceful” terrorist symathizer

Since yesterday, when the IDF announced that it has information regarding the intent of some of the flotilla passengers to cause physical harm to Israeli soldiers trying to board their boats, the flotilla organisers, their in-house journalists and their groupies around the world have been frantically giving interviews, writing articles and Tweeting themselves dizzy trying to dismiss the announcement.

One of those is Dror Feiler, who gave an interview to Ynet in his capacity as flotilla organiser. Of course Feiler is far more than just that; he is head of the Swedish branch of Free Gaza’, chair of the Swedish ‘Jews for Israeli-Palestinian Peace’ and chair of ‘European Jews for a Just Peace’ which organised a mini-flotilla of its own last year. Not only did he take part in the May 2010 flotilla, but he was also a guest of honour at the rally organised by the IHH in December 2010 to mark the ‘homecoming of the ‘Mavi Marmara’. Others present included the IHH president Bülent Yildirim, fugitive Hamas commander and member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s ECESG Muhammed Sawalha and the ECESG’s co-ordinator Mazen Kahil (sometimes spelt Kahel).

Here is Feiler making his speech at that rally, in which he compared Israeli leaders to Slobodan Milosevic.

 

 

For some reason, Feiler the ‘peace activist’ failed to do anything about the cries of ‘death to Israel’ or the giving out of buttons with the words ‘ Damn Israel’ by the organizers of the rally at which he agreed to speak.  Neither is there any record of his objecting when the IHH president Bulent Yildirim stated in his speech that his organization would struggle against “the filth that is Israel”, called for “release from the burden that Israel puts on the back of the Middle East” or criticized the leaders of the Arab countries who, he said, “if they wanted to, could wipe Zionism off the face of the earth”.

 

 

 

 

It is, therefore, painfully obvious that Feiler’s definitions of violence and terrorism are not the standard ones adopted by most ordinary people, but that was evident back in 2004 when he set up an ‘art installation’ in Stockholm glorifying the female suicide bomber who murdered 21 people at a restaurant in Haifa.

 

So obviously we need to have bucket-loads of salt at the ready when Dror Feiler assures us via the Israeli press that:

“The activists are undergoing training for passive resistance. They all signed a non-violence paper and pledged not to kick, hit, curse, throw objects or jump overboard. We know our weapon is a non-violent struggle. If we use actual weapons, we’ll lose.”

We particularly need to take note of the cunning escape clause in his next sentence:

“We won’t respond with violence if there is no violence”

That, of course, is precisely how Feiler and his fellow Hamas-sympathizers tried to explain away the violent attacks on Israeli soldiers on the previous ‘Freedom Flotilla’ jaunt they organized – by making false claims that they were attacked first.

If one needed any further evidence as to Dror Feiler’s warped concepts of truth, he provides it further on in the interview.

“Obviously I care about the Palestinians, but not just them. They house the greatest concentration camp in the world, but I’m also worried about Israeli residents – a wall is being put around them and that also is a form of prison.”

“As long as there are no equal rights for all the residents there will be war and hate and both peoples will suffer. My mother lives in a kibbutz near Tulkarem and there’s a wall in front of her. Is that a way to live?”

Feiler’s mother,, lives on Kibbutz Yad Hanna – the only communist kibbutz in Israel and one which has the reputation of being the most extreme hard Left community in the country.

Dror Feiler’s family moved to Yad Hanna from Tel Aviv in 1967 and he lived there until he left Israel just days before the Yom Kippur war. Yad Hanna is indeed very close to the anti-terrorist fence built as a result of the infiltration of hundreds of terrorists and suicide bombers into Israel during the years of the second Intifada. Whilst Feiler enjoyed Scandinavian tranquility during those years, Israeli citizens begged their government to do something to protect them from the endless waves of suicide bombers. The result was the fence which Feiler has the luxury of never having needed in order to be able to send his children to school in the mornings with peace of mind.

Just nineteen kilometers north of Yad Hanna lies another kibbutz called Metzer which was always at the more doveish end of the political spectrum. Metzer lies inside the ‘green line’ and is very close to several Arab villages with which its residents always enjoyed excellent relations, including a joint football team with one of them. When the people of Metzer discovered that the anti-terrorist fence was set to be built on land belonging to one of the nearby Arab villages, they petitioned the Israeli government with a request to give up some of their own land instead.

On November 10th 2002, Metzer resident and single mother Revital Ohiyun had just put her two sons Matan, aged 5, and Noam, aged 4, to bed when a Palestinian gunman fired two shots at her front door, entered the house and burst into the boys’ bedroom. Revital tried to shield her sons with her body. The terrorist shot all three of them dead and then proceeded to kill two other people

Noam and Matan Ohiyoun z”l

The Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade – a Fatah branch – claimed responsibility for the operation. Hamas praised the murders, calling them “a legitimate resistance operation” and described Metzer as a “settlement that was built on Arab land usurped by the Zionist enemy in 1948″.

That is the same Hamas which Dror Feiler and his fellow flotilla passengers are now aiding and enabling. It is the same Hamas which has operatives and sympathizers within the ranks of the flotilla’s organizers and posing as ‘human rights activists’ on its ships. Its self-stated aim, then and now, is to annihilate Jewish ‘usurpers’ living on so-called ‘Arab land’. If Feiler and his ‘progressive’ friends have their way and manage to breach the naval blockade, that task will become much easier with the aid of unlimited amounts of lethal weapons provided by Iran.

Dror Feiler, his Islamist colleagues and the flotilla’s sympathizers have lied repeatedly about the circumstances surrounding the violent events aboard the Mavi Marmara in the flotilla they organized a year ago. They lie about their connections to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, about the situation in Gaza, the legality of the naval blockade and the purpose of their mission. In fact there is very little they do not lie about, and so there is no particular reason we should believe that they have had a sudden attack of conscience and truthfulness when they tell us that they pledge non-violence this time around.

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Haneen Zoabi defends anti-Semitic Islamist preacher: Accuses UK Zionist lobby of controlling British politics

The Guardian has now devoted four columns (here, here, here, and here) and one CiF commentary, encompassing over 2100 words, about Britain’s arrest of the Islamist preacher, Sheikh Raed Salah, all of which share a couple common denominators: They’re all viscerally sympathetic to Salah; they all but ignore his record of incitement and anti-Semitism, which includes a sermon where he advanced the Medieval blood libel, as well as his ties to Hamas; and they frame Salah’s opponents in the pejorative as either “right-wing Israelis” or as part of the “Zionist lobby”.

This latter charge is leveled explicitly by Haneen Zoabi, the Israeli Arab MK who was a participant on board last year’s pro-Hamas flotilla, in her CiF column, An Israeli trap for Britain, June 29. 

Zoabi casually dismisses charges of anti-Semitism against Salah, accuses pro-Israel groups of complicity with “Islamophobia” in their criticism of the preacher, implicitly levels the Zionism is racism canard against Israel, and characterizes Salah’s arrest as evidence of racism by Zionists in the UK.

She concludes her apologia for the Hamas supporting hate preacher by an urgent plea to citizens of the UK not to allow “the pro-Israel lobby” to determine their politics.

For those of us schooled in the long and dark history of this charge – of the injurious effects of organized Jewry on the body politic of the nations where they reside – as well as the Guardian’s complicity in advancing this odious narrative of Jewish power, the continuing staying power of such tropes come as no surprise.  

But, the predictability of Zoabi’s effort to blame the UK’s tiny Jewish population (less than 1/2 of 1% of Britain’s total population) on a decision by non-Jewish British government authorities doesn’t make it any less malicious, dangerous, or racist.

All Dutch reporters have now quit the flotilla. Additional terrorist affiliations of flotilla organizers revealed

Medusa just commented on a Radio Netherlands reporter describing why he could not go on the flotilla voyage and now, from Elder of Ziyon:

“Every Dutch reporter on the flotilla has bailed out for the same reasons. And they are also upset over how the flotilla is hiding the involvement of at least one known Hamas leader.”

Elder quotes From De Telegraaf:

Enraged at the paranoia, the dictatorial atmosphere, mutual distrust and outright opposition on board, all Dutch journalists to leave the ship which the Dutch activists seek confrontation with Israeli marines in the Gaza Strip.

According to the four reporters who left, they were censored by the activists, who did not respond to any critical questions, such as the financing of the ship. The money was scraped together by collections in Dutch mosques, as this newspaper revealed earlier.

The Dutch report, which Elder quotes, also notes the radical affiliation of the Netherlands Gaza group behind the flotilla:

Now it appears that the infamous Dutch Hamas leader Amin Abou Rashed was also present in recent days in the training of the crew in Greece…The foundation was forced to admit that Rashed was present in Greece, because of his involvement in the purchase of the ship.

Now emerges a unique picture, when the Dutch Hamas leader Sheikh Amin Abou Rashed supports Yusuf al Qaradawi, spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. This Al Qaradawi is hoping to transform Egypt into a fundamentalist dictatorship. The Sheikh, a fierce anti-Semite and notorious for his inflammatory speeches, lived in exile in Qatar. After the revolt against Egyptian President Mubarak returned to Cairo. Al Qaradawi wants to stone gays and adulterers, would “dismantle” Israel, encourages suicide attacks inside Israel and believes that men should strike “rebellious” women.

Elder closed by noting “Amin Rashed was on last year’s flotilla and has been linked with Hamas and the Holy Land Foundation.

So, when you add to the recent revelations about the radical terrorist affiliations of the flotillas’ sponsors to this latest development – of an increasing number of Liberal European journalists, and participants, being disenchanted with the flotilla and its mission – what you’re left with is a story about a an anti-Israel publicity stunt that seems to be failing miserably. 

The tangled web they weave – the eminence noir behind the “Freedom Flotilla 2″

The IDF is well-versed in maritime and other law.  Israel knows that it must apply its blockade unequivocally across the board, to all maritime traffic regardless of where it is from, if it is not to have an Iranian-armed next-door neighbour in Hamas.   Hamas’ Charter sets out what it wants to be able to do to Israel and Israel cannot let that happen. This means that no matter how many boats attempt to run the blockade, however misplaced their righteous indignation when they are collared and arrested and sent home or banned for ten years from Israel; however violently they resist being boarded, Israel cannot afford to let them through, and not only because the first part of the Turkel Commission’s report of the enquiry by the UN into the last flotilla has ruled that the blockade of Gaza is legal.

Nevertheless in spite of warnings from the Israeli and US governments that participation in the “Freedom Flotilla 2″ would constitute an illegal act, boatloads of useful idiots for Islamism  and more than a few from the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) will try to descend upon Gaza in the coming days from various countries.

Many have at least one thing in common – ignorance, wilful or genuine, of the true motives behind the over-publicised attempt to break the blockade of Gaza.  Others hate Jews but would have us believe that their animus is directed against the “Zionist entity.”

Some, however, are not so easily fooled, or blind to the obvious even though they may support the flotilla.  This from the Radio Nederlands webpage shows us how the scales fell from the eyes of this reporter and several others as they all jumped ship.  Note in particular:

“.. Things started going wrong from the very beginning. During our first meeting on the Greek island of Corfu, we received the usual latest updates, and then one of the organisers informed us that one of the Dutch journalists had leaked secret information to the most popular Dutch daily about the mission. She was furious: No one is as open as the Free Gaza Foundation, she proclaimed indignantly.

“But I have worked as a journalist for the past 25 years, and never have I experienced such a closed organisation…”

And

“… After this welcoming message, she explained the ground rules to us. There were many, many non-negotiables. “If you don’t accept this, you can’t come along.” I wanted to make a video report, filming the two days of obligatory training sessions to convey a sense of how the activists were preparing for the mission. But the organisation declared numerous sessions off-limits. I and the other Dutch journalists present explained that we needed this footage to do our work. But she wouldn’t have it. “I have worked with CNN, Al Jazeera, BBC, and no one has been as demanding as you Dutch reporters.”

“Eventually there was a hand count and the activists voted us out of those sessions. We journalists all felt that a schism had been created for no reason. We also began to lose faith and trust in the organisation, both essential ingredients when undertaking such a risky trip….

And also:

Motivation.

“I expressed an interest in joining the mission earlier this year when I heard that the Dutch were going to send their own vessel to Gaza for the first time. There would be over 30 participants, including prominent members of Dutch society. An Italian delegation with 20 people would also take part.

“I then attended meeting after meeting in various cities in Holland. I had to be screened because – I was told – there were so many people wanting to travel to Gaza. When the organisers called to say I had passed the screening and been chosen as one of the select group of people who would set sail, I felt obliged to express my joy.”

Deception.

“Now, back in the Netherlands, over three months later, I feel deceived. There never was a “select group”. There were no prominent Dutch figures interested in joining Freedom Flotilla2. Instead of 32 people from the Netherlands, the organisation managed to assemble just eight activists and four journalists. Yesterday [Monday], two more journalists decided to jump ship before the boat even left the port of Corfu.

“Since day one, journalists, including myself, asked questions about the Dutch organisation and the boat, for example about the funding. Even simple questions about the ship’s power supply for me to hook up my satellite transmitter. The answer was consistently: “I’ll get back to you about that” or “we don’t know”. I’m still waiting for answers…..”

Note also the persistence of the flotilla members’ delusions in spite of this journalist’s sensible advice.  If his account is at all representative of the members’ experiences, it seems that this flotilla is the archetypal camel which started out as a horse but was designed by a committee.

Delve a little deeper than he did, however, and you come to the real motives behind this fun-loving, “peaceful” jaunt.  The flotilla is organised by none other than Muhammad Sawalha, from the safety of the UK (the government of which allows him a free hand to do so whilst decrying the Islamist terrorism his organisation supports).  Sawalha is the excessively litigious representative of the Ikhwan there.

Sawalha’s influence is great and stretches far.  He has been allowed to get away with most of his activities because the strong suit of the Ikhwan and of other Islamist bodies in the UK is to despise western democracy on the one hand whilst using its laws to try to stifle debate about or criticism of their behaviour on the other (see AKUS’ article and also here, and here).  As AKUS has said Muhammad Sawalha’s spiteful yet successful machinations behind the Spectator’s ignominious appeasement of his particularly repulsive form of Ikhwan bullying, would not be tolerated in the USA.   However, the Ikhwan has the measure of the spinelessness of successive UK governments whose over-eager attempts to engage with Islamist extremists has blinded them to Islamist’s real agenda and has set a woeful precedent for more such goings on.   The most polite explanation of the UK’s behaviour is that it cannot realise that it is sending mixed messages to Islamists, but this monumental oversight (if allowing an avowedly antisemitic Islamist into the UK after having issued an exclusion order against him only the previous week can be called a mere oversight) almost beggars belief!

Given that the “Freedom Flotilla 2″ is organised by Sawalha from the safe haven of the UK (the same Ikhwan who, remember, are brothers of Hamas) and is probably carrying Ikhwan members, can we really expect them to behave peacefully and respond peacefully to Israel’s demands to be allowed to board and to be towed into Ashdod?   Hardly.  Even the Guardian’s soul mate in Israel, Ha’aretz, ran a story which cast doubt on that.  It matters little whether they are carrying letters, balloons, hearing aids, or tons of bubble gum – it is important to the Ikhwan that they break the blockade for the reasons I have set out above, and particularly in view of the following:

In January 3 2002, the Israeli Navy and Air Force seized the Karine-A, purchased by the Palestinian Authority and loaded with 50 tons of weaponry supplied by Iran and Hizb’allah, which it planned to transfer to the Palestinian Naval Police force on Gaza beach near El Arish.  According to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

“…The shipment included both 122 mm and 107 mm Katyusha rockets, which have ranges of 20 and 8 kilometers respectively. It also contained 80 mm. and 120 mm. mortar shells, various types of anti-tank missiles, anti-tank mines, sniper rifles, Kalashnikov rifles and ammunition. From Gaza, the 122 mm. Katyushas could have threatened Ashkelon and other coastal cities; while from the West Bank, Ben-Gurion International Airport and several major Israeli cities would have been within their range….”

Also on board was equipment which could have facilitated seaborne attacks from Gaza against coastal cities in Israel.

On March 15 2011, Israeli Navy commandos seized a cargo ship, the German-owned “Victoria”, in the Mediterranean, while it was en route to Alexandria, from whence the Iranian arms and ammunition it was carrying would be smuggled into Gaza via tunnels from Egypt. Iran, of course, denied it had supplied the arms.

Arms and ammunition, almost certainly from Iran, continue to be smuggled into Gaza via tunnels from Egypt where the ships that transport them dock.

It should be evident that this apparently benign bunch of useful idiots is mere window dressing for the Ikhwan’s attempt to undermine the legality of the blockade.   If they are allowed to break the blockade then Israel will not be able to apply it legally against the boatloads of arms and ammunition which will inevitably be sent by sea to Gaza from Iran in future.

Recommended Links:

‘Freedom Flotilla 2′ – Update 5 – Dutch journalists jump ship.

A number of unrelated setbacks appear to be combining to delay the departure of the ‘Freedom Flotilla 2′. A pre-announced general strike in Greece – related to the domestic political situation there – has temporarily shut down ports and marinas.

Via Honest Reporting we hear that a number of Dutch journalists, despite being sympathetic to the cause, have abandoned ship due to disagreements with the flotilla organisers.

“Yesterday morning I had a final meeting with the participants. I told the activists that given everything that had happened, they shouldn’t trust the organisation leading this mission.”

Then there was the discovery that the propeller of the Greek/Swedish/Norwegian boat – the ‘Juliano Mer’ – had been damaged. The cost of repairs is estimated at some $17,000. Activists were, of course, quick to blame Israel for the sabotage, despite the complete lack of evidence, although a naval expert with whom I consulted said that it was unlikely that such damage could have been caused by anything other than deliberate action.

Various legal problems are also plaguing the flotilla. In an interview with the ‘Jerusalem Post’, ‘Free Gaza’ activist Ewa Jasiewicz (the woman who, together with BDS activist and flotilla veteran Yonatan Shapira, defaced the Warsaw Ghetto  last year with graffiti) complained that some of the boats had their insurance withdrawn. In addition, the Israeli civil rights organization ‘Shurat HaDin’ has been busy with an innovative attempt to prevent the maritime communications company ‘Inmarsat’ from providing services to the flotilla which, if successful, would make it all but impossible for the flotilla to sail.

However, should it indeed eventually leave port, we can then expect to see a series of pre-planned ‘spontaneous’ demonstrations take place in major cities across the world. The ‘US Boat to Gaza’ campaign’s supporters have already organized protests in at least ten venues.

“San Jose:
On the day following an attack (or boarding) of any ship in the flotilla we invite all people of conscience to gather outside the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library (San Jose Public Library) in San Jose at 150 East San Fernando Street, San Jose, CA 95112 at 5:00 pm. We also ask that Palestine solidarity groups, and peace and justice groups spread this message across their membership through listservs, phone calls, and other forms of social media. It is of the utmost importance that this event has a large attendance; international pressure–especially from the United States–is a critical factor in preventing Israel from acting with impunity towards humanitarian activists. We all need to be prepared to act on short notice.”

Reminds me of the type of ridiculously transparent regime-organised ‘loyalty marches’ one so often sees in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, an article on the ‘Le Monde’ website shows pictures of one of the two French boats – the comfortably outfitted ‘Louise Michel and in the comments an interesting question is raised.  Are those people who contributed money to the flotilla campaign in the belief that they would be providing humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza entitled to feel disgruntled about the fact that in effect, all they have achieved is to sponsor a rather expensive early summer holiday in the eastern Mediterranean for a select group of ‘progressives’?  

Conal Urquhart quotes Ben White as a source in Guardian’s second whitewash of anti-Semitic preacher

Earlier, we cross posted Elder’s piece on the Guardian white wash of the anti-Semitic Islamist preacher,  Raed Salah (the leader of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel who spent two years in jail after confessing to funding Hamas) which noted that 6 of the 13 paragraphs of the piece (on Salah’s recent arrest in the UK) was devoted towards defending the radical preacher, and not one fact, from easily available evidence with anyone who has access to Google, of the grotesquely anti-Semitic sermons he’s given – including a 2007 speech where he reportedly accused Jews of using children’s blood to bake bread.

Not content with that blatantly misleading article, by Alan Travis, the Guardian provided Conal Urquhart an opportunity to pen an even more ideologically driven apologia for Salah, who quoted one of the most obsessively anti-Israel activists in UK, Ben White, as a source for story – describing the author of the book “Israel Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide” merely as “a writer and activist.” Urquhart quotes White as saying:

“The same government that sent police to arrest a Palestinian civil society leader from his hotel bedroom is changing UK legislation explicitly to facilitate the entry of accused Israeli war criminals,”

Salah, the “Palestinian civil society leader” who White contrasts favorable with Israel’s democratic leaders, said the following in 2007 which led to his arrest for incitement:

“We have never allowed ourselves to knead [the dough for] the bread that breaks the fast in the holy month of Ramadan with children’s blood…Whoever wants a more thorough explanation, let him ask what used to happen to some children in Europe, whose blood was mixed in with the dough of the [Jewish] holy bread.”

Salah also referred to Osama Bin Laden as a martyr and, according to The JC, Salah called Jews “butchers of pregnant women and babies”, and said “the Creator meant for [Jews] to be monkeys and losers.”

Of course, White, who has expressed sympathy for those who are anti-Semitic, would naturally view Salah with sympathy, and it’s only natural that Urquhart would quote him as a reliable source.

Urquhart’s journalistic malfeasance, however, hits a crescendo when, from the second to the last paragraph, he characterizes the hate preacher merely as someone “is despised by Israel’s right-wing.”

Evidently, you have to be on the “right-wing” to morally object to a vile bigot who advances the most crude and odious anti-Semitic narratives.  It’s as if, for activists at the Guardian like Urquhart, mouthing support for the rights of Palestinians automatically inoculates you from charges of racism.

Pro-Palestinian activism by Guardian reporters is so uncontroversial that they largely don’t even attempt to hide their political sympathies.

While of course not all anti-Israel bias is informed by hatred of Jews, it is beyond doubt that the institutional bias against Israel at the Guardian is often informed by a willingness to turn a blind eye to clear and unmistakable evidence of even the most explicit anti-Semitism.

The Guardian’s bias in covering Sheikh Raed Salah

This is cross posted by Elder of Ziyon

From The Guardian:

Sheikh Raed Salah, a leading Palestinian activist, has been detained in London after he entered the UK while banned from the country.

Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, was detained on Tuesday night by police.

The home secretary, Theresa May, said officials from the UK Border Agency were taking steps to remove Salah from the country. She said an investigation had been launched into how he managed to get into the UK.

…Sarah Colborne, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), insisted that Salah was the leader of a legitimate political organisation. He rejected all forms of racism, including anti-semitism, she said.

“Sheikh Raed Salah is the leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, the largest movement for Palestinians in Israel,” Colborne said.

“This is a legitimate organisation which Israel has never moved to ban.

“Raed Saleh regularly speaks at venues across Israel where he has considerable support amongst the Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up a fifth of the population.

“Sheikh Raed has been elected as mayor of his home town, Um al-Fahm, three times. He has never been convicted of anti-semitism in Israel.
“Before coming to Britain, he faced horrific allegations of anti-semitism, which he completely refuted.”

This article is a perfect example of media bias. 

The entire article is 13 paragraphs long – and of those 13, fully 6 are given to someone defending Raed Salah. 

There is nothing in the article that mentions any possible reason why Salah might be considered undesirable. It doesn’t mention why he has been arrested and imprisoned in Israel, or his ties to Hamas, or his regular incitement against Jews (every week or so he confidently declares that Israel plans to demolish the Al Aqsa Mosque, trying as hard as he can to inflame Muslim passions and start a new intifada.) To the Guardian, he is simply a “Palestinian activist.”

Even worse, the Guardian allows an apologist for Salah to assert that he is not anti-semitic.

Just one problem:


He is.

And it doesn’t take too much effort to prove that.

From Ha’aretz, January 29, 2008:

The head of the Islamic Movement in Israel’s Northern Branch, Ra’ad Salah, was charged Tuesday in Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court with incitement to violence and racism, over a fiery speech he gave a year ago in which he invoked the blood libel.

During the speech at the February 16, 2007 protest in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz, Salah accused Jews of using children’s blood to bake bread.

“We have never allowed ourselves to knead [the dough for] the bread that breaks the fast in the holy month of Ramadan with children’s blood,” he said. “Whoever wants a more thorough explanation, let him ask what used to happen to some children in Europe, whose blood was mixed in with the dough of the [Jewish] holy bread.”

Great God, is this a religion?” he asked. “Is this what God would want? God will deal with you yet for what you are doing.”

The rally was called to protest the planned Mughrabi bridge construction in Jerusalem’s Old City. Addressing the 1,000-strong crowd and assembled press, Salah accused Israel of attempting to rebuild the Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount while drenched in Arab blood.

“Whoever wants to build a house of God should not do so while our blood is still on his clothes, on his doorposts, in his food, in his drink, being passed along from one terrorist general to the next terrorist general,” he said.

Following the speech and Friday prayers, the crowd began rioting and throwing stones at police. According to the prosecution, Salah’s speech constituted a “call to commit acts of violence and encouragement of acts of violence, which given the content and context, there was a real possibility that it could lead to acts of violence.”

The prosecution said Salah made the remarks “with the objective of inciting racism.”

In an interview with Ashams radio, Salah said in response that, “I am willing to repeat before the court all the things I said at the Friday sermon in Wadi Joz or any other meeting with journalists.

“Our statements are the products of conviction, and I will not recant,” he continued.

Salah was released from prison in 2005 after serving some two years for having contact with a foreign agent, as well as financial crimes related to the Islamic Movement.

This is not only a problem with the Guardian. No other newspaper coverage of Salah regularly mentions his blood libel, which is a piece of information that should be attached to his name every single time it is mentioned in a news report.

But The Guardian deserves to be singled out here for an article that is completely void of context and that is nearly 50% apologetics for a terrorist supporter, regular inciter to violence and an unabashed anti-semite.

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Guardian and Independent coverage of second flotilla omits key facts

This was published by Just Journalism

Israel accused of trying to intimidate Gaza flotilla journalists’, by Conal Urquhart, published in yesterday’s Guardian, framed the convoy’s primary motivation as humanitarian, endorsing the contention of protesters that breaking Israel’s naval blockade is the sole way of delivering aid to the territory. The article asserted:

‘The ships are sailing to protest against Israeli restrictions on Gaza and to commemorate last year’s flotilla, which was intercepted by the Israeli navy, who killed nine of the Turkish participants.

‘Israel has restricted the supply of goods and the movement of individuals in Gaza since Hamas took control in 2007.’

However, no mention was made of the fact that Israel has repeatedly offered to transport the aid to Gaza as long as flotilla ships do not attempt to directly reach the coastal territory themselves, as reported by Just Journalism at the start of the month. Yesterday, The Jerusalem Post reported the latest development, whereby Israel and Egypt have agreed to coordinate any such effort:

‘Israel and Egypt have come to an understanding by which ships taking part in an upcoming flotilla to the Gaza Strip will be allowed to unload their cargo of humanitarian goods at the Egyptian port of El-Arish, from where it will be transferred on land to Gaza after being checked, Israel Radio reported on Monday.’

Even the left-leaning Israeli outlet Haaretz, in an editorial published yesterday arguing that the ships should be allowed to reach Gaza, acknowledged that it was hard to argue that there was any ‘practical reason’ for the flotilla:

‘At first glance, there does not appear to be a practical reason to send the aid, since in the wake of the 2010 flotilla, Israel was compelled to lift many restrictions it had put in place as part of its brutal blockade, and Egypt has decided to open the Rafah crossing to civilians. Moreover, Israel has even offered to transfer the aid shipment to Gaza, as long as the ships don’t dock there.’

Read the rest of the essay, here.

Should the British Spectator Bow to Lawfare?

A guest post by AKUS

It is now common knowledge among those who care about these things that Melanie Phillips will no longer write for the UK Spectator newspaper and has started her own blog.

I have no more information than Melanie has made available on her blog (Why I left the Spectator) and in the two notices that have appeared about this change. One is an apology apparently issued under legal duress by the Spectator  and the other is at CiF Watch  as an update to an article  that dealt with the UK expelling an Israeli diplomat over the Dubai incident (see both notices below).

Melanie writes the following in her new blog about the Spectator’s apology, and that is all I intend to mention regarding the actual severing of ties:

For legal reasons, I cannot go into the details. Suffice it to say the apology misrepresented my post and has thus given rise to the false assumptions that are now being published. Those interested to learn more can do so in the update on this CiF Watch post, the original quote from which led to this apology.

What concerns me is an issue of even greater importance. This the use of lawfare  in the UK to shut down the freedom of expression and the freedom of the press that is particularly and primarily invoked whenever Israel is involved, even obliquely, or an article sets off the now standard  hair-trigger response from Moslems over a perceived slight against their religion.  Since I thought this issue interesting, especially the apology provided by the Spectator and Melanie’s response, I tried to find the article which apparently resulted in Melanie severing her ties with the Spectator. 

It turns out that it was not that easy to find Melanie’s article.

After a great deal of searching, I found it on the internet at sites not affiliated with the Spectator or Melanie Phillips (remember – “the internet never forgets”). It was apparently an article headlined “Well, There’s a Surprise”. You can try to find it at the following link to the Spectator’s website:

http://www.spectator.co.uk/melaniephillips/6654264/well-theres-a-surprise.thtml

And here is an even greater surprise – the link leads to a completely blank webpage. Try it for yourself. Click on the link or paste it into your browser’s address line.

So here is the real issue, as bad as it is that the Spectator has suffered a significant loss of a brave alternative voice. A British newspaper has apparently agreed to remove published content from its website under duress.

The use of the English law of libel, the most hostile in the world to press freedom and the most loaded in favour of the complainant and against the writer, has been used as a means of shutting down debate, particularly in matters to do with Israel or Islam. Lawfare achieves this by simply causing so much difficulty for publications, by tying them up in often ludicrously expensive lawsuits which are so very difficult to win that they become reluctant to publish anything at all on the subject.

Thus a paper published in a Western democracy was apparently compelled to actually erase content to change the historical record in response to what was obviously some form of legal pressure. This is clearly a form of what has become known as “lawfare”. It is almost always selectively used in the UK against Israelis and supporters of Israel by Palestinian supporters (including Jews such as Daniel Machover) determined to delegitimize Israel and its citizens and those who support them.  For example, it has been used as a weapon to prevent Israeli politicians such as Tzipi Livni and others  from entering the UK under threat of arrest for “war crimes”, a charge in light of what the UK is doing every day in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya as to be ludicrous if not so serious. The threat of legal action includes the possibility of being forced to pay substantial damages and legal costs. Even if the suit were to be dismissed in court, the proceedings and costs may be enough to deter the defendant from making its case in court.

It is also not the first time lawfare has been used against the Spectator in connection with Islam and Hamas. An earlier case similarly involved a libel suit by Hamas supporter and Moslem Brotherhood member Mohammed Sawalha (see below) against the Spectator and Stephen Pollard for publishing an article called “Demos and Genocide”. In this case, too, the the Spectator apologized (and, as in this new case, the original article cannot be found on the web):

Lawfare in the UK: Who Is Behind It This Time?

Britain’s pernicious libel laws are in the spotlight again: recently the Spectator, a weekly publication focusing on politics, culture and the arts, settled an ongoing dispute with IslamExpo following legal threats. … Mohammed Sawalha is a Palestinian who fled to London in 1990 after discovering the Israeli authorities wanted to arrest him. An authoritative investigation for the BBC by John Ware – a formidable and robust journalist – made a series of startling revelations about Sawalha; they alleged that Sawalha “master minded much of Hamas political and military strategy” from London; then went on to describe him as a “fugitive Hamas commander.”

Sawalha never sued the BBC over those allegations; instead he chose to focus on the substantially smaller resources of the Spectator. Of course, there is little for Sawalha to actually complain about when the Muslim Brotherhood’s own website, IslamOnline, describes him as “manager of the political committee of the International Organization of the Brothers [i.e. the Muslim Brotherhood] in Britain.”*

In the Pollard case, the agreement also included payment of damages and costs, and removal of the offending article. In what many must have interpreted as a Churchillian bit of British humor, the Spectator’s apology read:   

Stephen Pollard and the Spectator apologise for the unintended and false suggestion in a blog published on 15 July 2008 that Islam Expo Limited is a fascist party dedicated to genocide which organised a conference with a racist and genocidal programme. We accept that Islam Expo’s purpose is to provide a neutral and broad-based platform for debate on issues relating to Muslims and Islam.

In yet another case, the same Mohammed Sawalha brought a similar suit against the Spectator and Melanie Phillips for an article (which has also been removed) published in 2008, “Just Look What Came Crawling Out”. The outcome in 2010 was an out of court settlement with another apology from the Spectator, complete with “substantial” damages. (The Guardian, of course, was only too willing to report the results of this case against its erstwhile employee).

Now, freedom of expression, and specially freedom of the press, is the cornerstone of what makes democracy work and what differentiates it most clearly from any other form of governance.  The ability to shine light into the dark corners of society is critical to society’s health. Even when commentary is mistaken, or even vehemently opposed to what a democratic society stands for, it is best to have it out in the open where it can be challenged rather than festering in the dark. The UK has been, till now, one of the foremost protectors of this basic right, as is the USA, of course.

Yet in the case of the Spectator we have an example where entire articles have “vanished” from a newspaper’s website. It is uncomfortably reminiscent of the period in the Soviet Union where history books were rewritten, photographs altered to remove undesirables, and newspapers firmly under control of political entities to ensure that only the “correct” information appeared.

Not only did Melanie (or the Spectator) not write the CiFWatch column which seems somehow to form the source of the Spectator’s decision to remove her article, the apparently offending comment was merely cited in her own article. CiFWatch denies the allegation apparently made to the Spectator about the intention of its article and points out in its “update” regarding the Spectator’s craven apology that:

 “The ‘allegation’ referred to in this apology refers to the post above from which Melanie Phillips quoted. As can be seen, however, this post made no such allegation.” 

So it appears that even citing something written by someone else was enough for legal pressure on the Spectator to cause the Spectator to apologize for something Melanie had not written and which had not appeared in its own paper, and to remove the “offending” article.

I do not believe that such an action could pass unchallenged in the USA. The only case that remotely parallels it is the cowardly decision by the Yale Press  to remove cartoons of Mohammed from a book it was publishing. The common thread is the confluence of references to Islam and Arab countries. As bad as Yale’s action was, it was due to the fear of violent and even murderous retaliation by Islamic extremists rather than a legal challenge. Nevertheless, after Yale took legal counsel, it was only willing to let the author see counsel’s recommendation under duress:

Aside from the disagreement about the images, Ms. Klausen said she was also disturbed by Yale’s insistence that she could read a 14-page summary of the consultants’ recommendations only if she signed a confidentiality agreement that forbade her from talking about them. “I perceive it to be a gag order,” she said, after declining to sign. While she could understand why some of the individuals consulted might prefer to remain unidentified, she said, she did not see why she should be precluded from talking about their conclusions.

There are strict laws that guard the freedom of expression and freedom of the press in the USA. In fact, in response to an attempt to enforce British lawfare on an Israeli-American researcher, Rachel Ehrenfeld, writing in the US, special laws have been passed  by States and Congress to further protect these rights after she was sued in the UK for her book “Funding Evil“. Dr. Ehrenfeld alleged that Saudi billionaire Khalid bin Mahfouz had financed al Qaeda through his bank and charitable organization. He used the threat of expensive lawfare to force the removal of her book from, among other places, the Cambridge University Library in an action eerily predating the similar ban on books printed in Israel by Dunbartonshire – another use of lawfare, this time at the county level.

First passed in several states, in Congress, the law, also known familiarly as “Rachel’s law”, was passed as the SPEECH law S. 3518 and is designed to prevent foreign groups from undermining First Amendment rights of free speech by resorting to lawfare that contravenes the First Amendment. Incidentally, his law will, of course, protect CiFWatch against any attempt at such action by whoever is behind the legal action against the Spectator.

Now it is time for the British government and people to take action to put an end to similar pernicious activity in their own country. It undermines the British belief in freedom of expression and is allowing Islamic groups to insidiously and step by step institute the very restrictions we so abhor in the dictatorships of the Middle East. The previous British government indicated it would make the necessary changes, but this has not happened as yet.

If all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to stay silent, how much more true is it if a newspaper agrees to be silenced?

I call on the Spectator to reinstate the article it removed as an example of its willingness to protect its own right to freedom of expression, and to lead a campaign to change the law in Britain to make sure that such an evil, anti-democratic, and pernicious act can never be forced on a British newspaper again.

Appendix: The apology posted by the Spectator to Alastair Crooke and CiFWatch’s update to an article posted on March 28, 2010:

The Spectator: (still visible on Sunday June 26th, 2011)

An apology to Alastair Crooke

A blog by Melanie Phillips posted on 28 January 2011 reported an allegation that Alastair Crooke, director of Conflicts Forum, had been expelled from Israel and dismissed for misconduct from Government service or the EU after threatening a journalist whose email he had unlawfully intercepted. We accept that this allegation is completely false and we apologise to Mr Crooke.

CiFWatch update to: The UK’s Disproportionate Response

(Note – the CiFWatch article was published on March 28th 2010, long before Melanie left the Spectator and had no connection to her or the Spectator).

UPDATE: The Spectator has published an apology on its site which reads as follows:

A blog by Melanie Phillips posted on 28 January 2011 reported an allegation that Alastair Crooke, director of Conflicts Forum, had been expelled from Israel and dismissed for misconduct from Government service or the EU after threatening a journalist whose email he had unlawfully intercepted. We accept that this allegation is completely false and we apologise to Mr Crooke.

The ‘allegation’ referred to in this apology refers to the post above from which Melanie Phillips quoted. As can be seen, however, this post made no such allegation. Insofar as an inference could be drawn to that effect, we would like to make it clear that no such implication was intended and no such inference should be drawn. However, neither CiF Watch nor Sheila Raviv made any such allegation, and consequently the Spectator’s statement is inaccurate.

‘Freedom Flotilla 2′ – Update 4 – ‘Brothers’ in Arms

As is known, one of the reasons for the unplanned lethal outcome of last year’s flotilla was the fact that Israel’s armed forces and intelligence had based their plans upon the premise that the 2010 flotilla would, like its predecessors, be made up of Western ‘peace activists’ who were expected, at worst, to engage in sit down strikes and maybe a bit of name-calling.

Indeed, that premise proved to be correct with regard to all the other boats in the flotilla which were stopped and towed to port without incident. Things only went horribly wrong aboard one ship – the Mavi Marmara – because of the presence on board of members of the IHH and other extremist Islamist organisations. With that lesson in mind, two recent pieces of news demand particular attention.

The first is the announcement that a Jordanian ship may take part in the flotilla. According to the official flotilla website, the chairman of the Jordanian Lifeline Committee, Wa’el al Saqa, revealed on Sunday that a “small ship” has been purchased for a sum of 560,000 Euros and registered to a company called ‘Nour’ which was specially set up for the flotilla. Around 35 Jordanians are expected to sail on board that ship, together with 35 passengers from other Arab countries. 

Wa'al al-Saqa, a passenger on the Mavi Marmara, at a press conference after his return to Jordan (Picture from bokra.net).

Mr. Wa’el Akram Assa’ad al Saqa is no stranger to the high seas. In fact he was aboard the Mavi Marmara as head of its Jordanian delegation when elements among its passengers viciously attacked the Israeli soldiers trying to prevent it from breaching the naval blockade. He was later deported back to Jordan, but the experience appears not to have deterred him from trying to reach Gaza again in October 2010 when he took part in the Jordanian contingent of George Galloway’s Viva Palestina’ convoy. That attempt failed too: al Saqa – along with Galloway himself and some 15 others – was banned by the Egyptian authorities from entering their country. That could well have something to do with the fact that Mr. al Saqa is a known Islamist activist and a long-standing member of the Muslim Brotherhood, in addition to the involvement of members of a prior convoy in violent attacks on members of the Egyptian security forces.     

The second news item worth considering is a report by Israeli intelligence which suggests that two other well-known figures may also be aboard the current flotilla. Dutch citizen Amin Abu Rashed (aka Abou Rashid, Abou Ibrahim) was also deported from Israel in June 2010 as he too took part in last year’s flotilla aboard the Sfendoni. Rashed has a rich history as a fundraiser for Hamas having been a member of the now defunct Al Aqsa Foundation in the Netherlands.

” In the U.S. government’s prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation, a Texas-based charity charged with funding HAMAS, an exhibit provided a description of the HAMAS support network in Europe. The writer of the document was Amin Abou Ibrahim of the Foundation al-Aqsa in Rotterdam. Since the de facto closure of Foundation al-Aqsa, Amin Abou Ibrahim, whose real name is Amin Rashid, moved on to the Foundation Palestinian Platform for Human Rights and Solidarity (PPMS).”

He is also a founder and prominent member of the ‘European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza’ – one of the organisations behind the whole flotilla project – which was established in 2007 by the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe; the Muslim Brotherhood’s European arm and accordingly has received funding from the Al Aqsa Foundation. 

Amin Abu Rashed (right) and Gretta Duisenberg of ‘Free Gaza’ meeting the Dutch Ambassador in Cairo, 2009

The other possible passenger is Mohammed Ahmed Hanoun from Genoa in Italy. He is president of an organisation called the ABSPP – Associazone Benefica di Solidarieta con il Popolo Palestinese. He is also head of the API – the Association of Palestinians in Italy; in fact the two organisations are indistinguishable and both are members of the Union of GoodThe Union of Good, or ‘Itilaf al Khair’ is an umbrella organisation of charities which was proscribed by Israel in 2002 and designated as a terrorist organisation by the USA in 2008 because of the fact that it provides financial and material support for Hamas. It is headed by the notorious Muslim Brotherhood hate preacher and endorser of Palestinian suicide bombings Yusuf al Qaradawi and the Turkish organisation known as the IHH whose members were responsible for the violence aboard the Mavi Marmara is also a member.

The British charity ‘Interpal’ was ordered by the Charity Commission in 2009 to sever its ties with the Union of Good if it wished to retain its charitable status. One man who has long-standing ties to Interpal – which also organised and carried out the recent Miles of Smiles convoy to Gaza – is Mohammed Sawalha. Sawalha was recently named as one of the organisers of the current flotilla and his well-known Hamas links once more brought to public attention.  Of course long-time CiF Watch readers will doubtless remember that we reported on Sawalha’s organisational connections to the 2010 flotilla eight days before the violent events took place, including the fact that in January 2010 he had stated that “the confrontation will be directly with the Zionist enemy itself on the high seas”.  Here is Sawalha speaking at a Palestine Solidarity Campaign event in London in January of this year.

Following the violent outcome of the last flotilla in 2010 some Western activists and journalists tried to continue to claim that the IHH members involved were innocent  ‘humanitarian aid workers’ but evidence gathered from the flotilla boats themselves shows that the violent actions of the Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood-linked activists were in fact  pre-planned. Paul Larudee, a founder of one of the flotilla’s organising bodies – the Free Gaza movement – even went so far as to express his admiration for their violent actions into writing, invoking something akin to cultural relativism along the way.  

“I practice nonviolence, so that is the way I resist, but it’s not necessarily for everyone. A number of passengers aboard the Mavi Marmara, who were from thirty-two different nations, responded with their hands, feet, and whatever objects were at hand. I admire them for doing so; they knew that Israel has a reputation for disproportionate response.”

The emerging picture of the ‘Freedom Flotilla 2′ is of a repeat of last year’s scenario in which a minority of Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood-linked Islamist activists turned the flotilla organisers’ claims to being a ‘non-violent’ mission of transportation of humanitarian aid into a mockery.  This should deeply worry those flotilla passengers who really do believe in ‘passive resistance’ and those members of the press currently writing and tweeting that line of defence on behalf of the flotilla. It is perfectly clear that the remaining two main organisations behind the flotilla – the ECESG and ‘Free Gaza’ - actually condone and support violent acts against Israeli soldiers.

The IDF has what it termed in a briefing this afternoon “solid intelligence” that some passengers aboard the flotilla may be carrying sulphuric acid with the aim of causing burns and other injuries to Israeli soldiers charged with halting the boats. It is the responsibility of any other passengers who do not condone such actions to ensure that they do not take place. If they fail to stop them, they will also be complicit – not only in criminal violence, but in knowingly allowing themselves to be used as ‘non-violent’ fig leaves for sympathisers and members of a terrorist organisation and its mentors.  

Great comment by Guardian reader in reply to Greenslade blog post about limits on journalists covering flotilla

While the story is still developing, and the Prime Minister’s office seems to be backtracking from previous statements by the FPO about possible restrictions placed on journalists who participate in the illegal attempts by Hamas affiliated flotillas to break Israel’s blockade, one commenter, who goes by the moniker of TheVoiceOfIsrael, expressed, with admirable lucidity, Israel’s concerns about such activist journalists beneath Roy Greenslade’s blog, Israel warns journalists – do not sail with Gaza flotilla”, June 27th.

This has nothing to do with freedom of the press. The number of foreign journalists in Israel is relatively the highest in the world. This even includes Al Jazeera and other Arab media journalists from countries that do not even have diplomatic relations with Israel, and even from some countries that are hostile to the Jewish state.

According to independent NGOs, the level of freedom of the press in Israel is among the highest in the world, and certainly higher than any other country in the Middle East (and that includes Turkey). Israel’s freedom of the press is even greater that in Italy and other western European countries. (See Freedom House/Freedom of the Press).

That does not mean that journalists in Israel are not bound by the law, as are all people in Israel. If a foreign visitor or resident breaks the law in the United States they are liable to be restricted from entering the US for 10 years. It is a reasonable rule, and is similar to rules in Europe and other parts of the free world. Journalists do not get any special treatment in that respect either in Israel, the United States, or elsewhere.

It is against Israel law to participate in an attempt to breach a legal arms blockade against the Hamas terrorist regime (as defined by the European Union, the US, Israel, Australia, Canada, and other countries). Any foreign national is therefore liable to be restricted from entering Israel if they do so, and any Israeli national is subject to prosecution.

Some readers may not like this situation but it is perfectly legal and it is perfectly reasonable, and has absolutely nothing to do with freedom of the press.

And beyond all that, it should be obvious to anyone that without the international media, the pro-Hamas flotilla would not try to breach the arms blockade. This flotilla is looking for a confrontation with Israel and all its members are really interested in is provocation. There is no value to any of their actions if there is no news media available to help them play to their international audience. In that respect, any participating members of the news media are not only breaking the law, they are also giving support and comfort to the Hamas terror organization.

Now, if you happen to support the pro-Hamas flotilla (be it because you are naive, misinformed, or you just plain hate Israel), then of course you will see things very differently. But we, here in Israel don’t. The pro-Hamas flotilla will not be permitted to reach Gaza, and hopefully this time when confronted by the Israel navy, the participants will not resort to violence, so that bloodshed can be avoided.

Whatever Israeli policy regarding such journalists participating in this political  publicity stunt, the inclusion of anti-Israel propagandists like Mya Guarnieri and Joseph Dana on the flotillas assure that, no matter how adeptly the highly trained and disciplined Israeli Navy personnel handle the situation, Israel will be demonized.  Anyone expecting anything resembling objectivity from such ideologically driven activists are beyond naive.

Gaza’s misery? Revisiting two Guardian reports which cited Gaza unemployment at 45%

When explaining what I do for a living to new friends who aren’t necessarily familiar with the Guardian, I’m often asked, in one form or the other, something to the effect of, “How anti-Israel is the Guardian?”, to which I sometimes cheekily reply, “The Guardian makes The New York Times look like Arutz Sheva.”

Of course, by this I mean that the anti-Israel bias of the New York Times is bad, but I don’t think it’s quite in the Guardian’s league – though, at least one highly informed scholar  has argued otherwise.

I bring this up to introduce a remarkable story in the NYT which, while repeating at least a couple of the predictable MSM tropes about Gaza’s overall condition, nevertheless notes Gaza’s “building boom”.

“Two luxury hotels are opening in Gaza this month. Thousands of new cars are plying the roads. A second shopping mall — with escalators imported from Israel — will open next month. Hundreds of homes and two dozen schools are about to go up. A Hamas run farm where Jewish settlements once stood is producing enough fruit that Israeli imports are tapering off.”

Building boom in Gaza City

The NYT also noted that Gaza “…has never been among the world’s poorest places. There is near universal literacy and relatively low infant mortality, and health conditions remain better than across much of the developing world.”

The story further quotes Mahmoud Daher, a World Health Organization official in Gaza, as saying, “We have 100 percent vaccination; no polio, measles, diphtheria or AIDS. We’ve never had a cholera outbreak.”

But, even more notable in the NYT piece is that the figure they cite on Gaza unemployment is dramatically at odds with two recent Guardian reports, which left unchallenged statistics by UNRWA spokesperson Chris Guinness that the unemployment rate in Gaza was 45%.  Harriet Sherwood’s report from June 15th, Unemployment in Gaza rises despite hopes of economic revivals“, and a Guardian/Reuters report on June 14th, Gaza jobless rate at 45% five years after full blockade imposed” both parroted UNRWA’s figure of 45%.

Yet the NYT piece quotes Ala al-Rafati, the economy minister for Hamas, stating that “nearly 1,000 factories are operating here”, and he estimated unemployment at “no more than 25 percentwhich represents a figure not too far off from official World Bank data.  While a 25% unemployment rate is by no means good, it’s actually relatively consistent with unemployment levels throughout the Arab world. For instance, the average youth unemployment percentage for all Arab states was 23.4% in 2010.

Of course, this is more than a story about statistics.  The pro-Israel blogosphere was alone for a while in refuting (and, at times, quite justifiably mocking) the utterly mind numbing clichés reported dutifully by the mainstream media (and more than one world leader) about Gaza being “the world’s largest open air prison” – a narrative which seems to have finally all but disappeared in the face of so much evidence, even prior to the NYT piece, that there wasn’t anything even approaching a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.  The larger story, of course, is how  journalist activists at the Guardian and elsewhere are constantly in search of evidence to support their preconceived conclusions about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict – conclusions (and evidence) which rarely withstand critical scrutiny.

Fruit stand, Gaza City