Guardian headline and report on Lebanese terrorist rocket fire into Israel blurs causation

Given the total lack of any mention of it on the ‘Comment is Free’ Israel page, one can only assume that the CiF editors find nothing newsworthy about the launching from Lebanon of several Katyusha rockets at sleeping Israeli civilians late on Monday night.

Things were not much better in the Guardian World News Middle East section, where the incident received all of 57 words and 49 seconds-worth of attention in a video showing Israeli fire-fighters extinguishing the blaze caused as one of the rockets hit a gas tank and another a chicken farm. (Surely the famous chicken rights defender Harriet Sherwood should have been interested in that?).

As ‘Honest Reporting rightly pointed out, the Guardian even managed to bungle the headline.

The moral equivalence implied in the headline is developed further below:

“The Israeli military say they responded after a volley of rockets were fired across the border from Lebanon, raising fresh tensions in the volatile region”

Hmm; so according to the Guardian, a sovereign state’s targeted response to missile attacks on its civilians by terrorist groups raises ‘fresh tensions’ in precisely the same way as the rocket fire itself?

Of course we are more than used to this type of shoddy reporting every time similar incidents occur in the southern communities near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip. Consistently keen to muddy the waters of cause and effect, Guardian editors are very fond of suggesting some kind of equivalence between the actions of the IDF and the war crime of deliberately firing rockets and mortars at civilian population centres.

But what is also interesting is that the Guardian has not seen fit to provide its readers with any background whatsoever regarding the perpetrators of Monday night’s rocket fire, the possible reasons for it, or the implications of the fact that it is highly unlikely that such an attack could have taken place without the knowledge of Hizballah.

Similarly, the Guardian chooses to disregard the fact that according to the very patchily implemented UNSC resolution 1701, there should be no militias and no weapons which do not belong to the LAF south of the Litani River.

The 2006 Lebanon war could have been prevented if the international community – as represented by UNIFIL in southern Lebanon – had taken serious steps towards enforcing its own UNSC resolution 1559 which called for “the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias”.

The next war is being made a certainty by the same abject failure to implement UNSC resolution 1701 as demonstrated by the events of Monday night.  But that, of course, will come as a total surprise out of the blue to Guardian readers schooled only in lessons of ‘moral equivalence’.

Palestinian Guardian propaganda photo of the day: Soldier vs. Child

The photo which Guardian editors chose to illustrate a story by Harriet Sherwood on Israel’s decision to release millions of dollars in Palestinian tax revenue (Israel unfreezes Palestinian Authority tax millions, Nov. 30), two days after Sherwood’s piece on the effects of the tax freeze (Israel sanctions mean Palestinian Authority can not pay wages, Nov. 28), is so unrelated to the piece its amusing.

The caption informs us:

A Palestinian boy and an Israeli soldier at Qalandiya checkpoint outside Ramallah in the West Bank. Israel controls access and collects duty for the Palestinioan Territories. An RNPS image of the year 2011. Photograph: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters

It seems the Reuters stringer is quite adept at depicting Israeli soldiers targeting Palestinian innocence.

Here an Israeli soldier is seen aiming his weapon, shot at angle which directs the eye at the “target” of a Palestinian girl holding balloons. 

Here, an IDF soldier frightens a Palestinian child.

Search Google Images for a better view of  Torokman’s Palestinian and Israeli caricatures.

See future reports in the Guardian for more pro-Palestinian journalist activism.

Robert Wistrich on failure of the liberal West to confront antisemitism in the Middle East

The following is an essay by Professor Robert Wistrich, the director of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and author of: A Lethal Obsession: Antisemitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad.

Essenweinstrasse Synagogue in Nuremberg, Germany, is in ruins after Kristallnacht in 1938.

Seventy-three years ago, on Nov. 9, 1938, the murderous Nazi onslaught against the German Jews began with a nationwide pogrom that smashed the fabric of their existence. Known euphemistically as “Kristallnacht” (“Crystal Night”), this state-organized orgy of violence happened in peace time. It involved the systematic burning of hundreds of synagogues, the destruction of approximately 7,500 Jewish businesses, the murder of nearly 100 Jews and the deportation of another 30,000 male Jews to German concentration camps.

It was a crucial turning-point in Hitler’s “war against the Jews,” a major signpost on the road leading to World War II, which Nazi Germany would initiate less than a year later. Already, Nazi propaganda openly warned about the imminent annihilation of Jewry through “fire and sword,” though few in the West took these threats too seriously.

Today, there is no immediate danger of a new Kristallnacht in the western world, although levels of anti-Semitism (hiding under the more acceptable mask of hostility towards Israel) have reached levels unprecedented since 1945. But in the Middle East, the hatred of Jews burns much more fiercely — both in Iran and in the Arab world. Islamist anti-Semitism, in particular, is soaked in some of the most inflammatory motifs that made the Kristallnacht atrocities possible in Nazi Germany and only three years later provided the rationale for the mass murder of European Jewry.

For example, there is the pervasive exploitation in Arabic of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, with its insistence on the reality of the “Jewish conspiracy for world domination”; there is a revival of the medieval Christian blood-libel against Jews, transplanted from Europe to the contemporary Arab-Muslim Middle East; and the mass diffusion of stereotypes about the Jews as cruel, treacherous and bloodthirsty colonialists seeking to destroy the identity and beliefs of the Muslim peoples.

The NYTreported the Nazi-inflicted damage durng Kristallnacht.

To this, one must add the slanderous but widely popular identification of Zionism with Nazism and apartheid and the “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians — a Goebbels-like propaganda lie that has also found a growing audience in the West. However contradictory it may appear to some, the Zionism-is-Nazism fabrication co-exists in the Middle East today with Holocaust denial on a broad scale.

Indeed, in Ahmadinejad’s Iran, Holocaust denial has become a state-sponsored weapon in the regime’s efforts to win over the Arab street and indoctrinate its own people with anti-Jewish toxins.

The increasingly entrenched anti-Semitism in the Arab world has not, unfortunately, been diminished by the “Arab Spring.” Earlier this year, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of the most authoritative religious leaders of the Sunni Arab world (and especially esteemed by the Muslim Brotherhood), told a million Egyptians assembled in Tahrir Square that he hoped their mission would be to complete Hitler’s work.

Al-Qaradawi, an immensely popular cleric, publicly insisted that the esteemed German Führer had been sent by Allah as a “divine punishment for the Jews.” Not long before, CBS foreign correspondent Lara Logan had been sexually assaulted and brutalized in the heart of Cairo by a mob of Egyptian men screaming “Jew, Jew, Jew.” Logan is not, in fact, Jewish.

But this aspect of her ordeal was, typically enough, very much downplayed by both the American and European media.

Read the rest of the essay, here.

 

Wadah Kanfar promotes the progressive virtues of radical Islam at ‘Comment is Free’

November 27th saw the publication on CiF of yet another promotion of ‘moderate, democratic Islamism’, this time written by Wadah Kanfar who resigned from his eight year post as director general of Al Jazeera in September – but not before collaborating with the Guardian on the Palestine Papers affair last January.

Kanfar’s Muslim Brotherhood sympathies and affiliations are well known and indeed were the cause of the resignations of numerous journalists from Al Jazeera under his directorship.

It was also Kanfar who brought the Muslim Brotherhood’s ‘spiritual leader’ Sheikh Qaradawi to Al Jazeera and gave him a regular slot where he promotes his anti-Semitic, homophobic and misogynistic ideologies.

The Guardian’s provision of a platform for Kanfar to extol the virtues and advantages of the work-in-progress rise of Islamists to power throughout the Middle East and North Africa is therefore akin to inviting the Master of the Hunt to write an article on how absolutely spiffing fox-hunting really is.

I’m not going to deconstruct Kanfar’s arguments here myself because as it happens, the Azure magazine recently published an excellent must-read article by Dr. Uriya Shavit – a lecturer in Islamic history and theology at Tel Aviv University – which explains at length precisely why Islamist rule is inherently incompatible with democracy.

“According to the Islamist worldview, Allah has given mankind a complete and perfect doctrine of life: Islam. Democracy and individual rights follow from and are mandated by this doctrine—and are consequently subordinate to its divine injunctions.

Since Islamists believe that the legitimacy of the political order is founded on a divine decree, they utterly reject any possibility of rebellion, whether in the name of democracy or individual rights, against other religious precepts. Hence, they would not allow a parliament to pass laws that contradicted the explicit commands of Allah, as conveyed to humanity through the Koran and the example set by the prophet. As al-Qaradawi and others have explained repeatedly, human beings cannot permit what Allah has forbidden, nor can they ban what Allah permits. For example, the Koran denounces abortion and the consumption of alcohol; consequently, a human parliament has no authority to grant them legislative sanction. Similarly, for particular offenses the Koran stipulates harsh penalties—capital punishment or amputation of a hand, for example—that no human legislator may repeal, nor may the prohibition of idol worship be overturned in the name of freedom of religion.”

…….

“Western observers therefore miss the point when they wonder whether the Muslim Brotherhood supports free elections and civil liberties. To predict the character of the regime that the Islamists will establish, if and when they are given the opportunity, only one question is relevant: Will Islamic democracy take the Koran as its highest authority, with religious scholars as its sole authorized interpreters? An answer in the affirmative—whether clear or implicit—carries within it the unmistakable seeds of theological despotism.”

……..

“The challenge facing the Arab Spring can thus be summarized as follows: Democracy without the Muslim Brotherhood is impossible, but so is democracy under its leadership. There is no doubt that the Brotherhood enjoys broad support in every Arab country that has undergone democratic revolutions or uprisings in the last year. Elections in which the movement is not allowed to participate will therefore lack popular legitimacy. Moreover, the Brotherhood’s liberal and democratic rhetoric will make it difficult for the legal establishment to disqualify the movement. The inevitable result of its electoral victory, however, will be the formation of a theocracy. It will not permit the scientific and technological revolution of which Arab societies are in such dire need. Simply put, the future of Arab democracy hangs by a thread: The Muslim Brotherhood must be permitted to run in elections, but not gain power.”

However, as we are already seeing across North Africa, the Islamists are gaining power and any hope of the emergence of true democracies from the upheaval of the ‘Arab Spring’ is fast waning.

Rather than confront that fact, the Guardian elects to sell out the real liberals in the MENA regions who risked their lives in the attempt to achieve genuine democracy and to bury its editorial head in the sands of the Islamist double-speak.

As Dr. Shavit points out:

“For democracy to strike real and lasting roots in the Arab world, the United States and its allies must free themselves of the influence of multi-cultural and post-colonial theories and determine—first for themselves, and then for others—the distinction between truly enlightened regimes and their imitators.”

The Guardian remains mired in its own long tradition of failing to do precisely that, and therefore aids and abets existing and future religious tyrannies rather than being the beacon of liberalism it claims to aspire to be.

Sarah Irving’s “Palestine” tourism story in the Guardian omits one tiny border country

H/T CAMERA

See Israelinurse’s take down of the Guardian’s latest contributing travel writer, and anti-Israel activist, Sarah Irving, for a complete picture of “10 highlights of Palestine“, Nov. 18th, but the following passage from Irving’s travel log deserves a bit more infamy.

Granted, tourism to Palestine still faces many challenges, not least the Israeli border authorities who control all routes into the West Bank and Gaza.

All routes? Really?

Ooops!  It seems like our former International Solidarity Activist volunteer forgot one quite large country.

Interestingly, a few days after her Guardian piece Irving retweeted the following:

#BREAKING: Rafa borders Egypt!

Israel’s Ambassador to UK singles out Guardian’s Deborah Orr for criticism at Manchester conference

While delivering an impassioned speech to the more than 700 attendees assembled at the Big Tent for Israel conference in Manchester on Sunday, Israel’s new Ambassador to the UK, Daniel Taub, singled out the Guardian’s Deborah Orr as an especially egregious example of the media assault on Israel’s legitimacy.

Taub specifically mentioned Orr’s October 19th column in the Guardian, during the course of his keynote speech, paying particular attention to the following passage about Israel’s prisoner swap with Hamas to gain the release of Gilad Shalit:

“…there is something abject in [Hamas’s] eagerness to accept a transfer that tacitly acknowledges what so many Zionists believe – that the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate neighbors.”

The Guardian’s disproportionate role in the delegitimization of Israel was also the focus of presentations delivered by several panelists in the two conference sessions which I participated in, including Jonathan Hoffman, Richard Millett, and Michael Weiss (of the Henry Jackson Society).  

The event was inspired in large measure by a Reut Institute report which highlighted London as the international “Hub of Hubs” of the campaign of Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) whose express purpose is to challenge and undermine the legitimacy and existence of the State of Israel.

While news of the Guardian’s notoriety in the UK is always welcomed, the fact that Orr’s contemptuous swipe at Zionist Jews continues to be the focus of so much opprobrium is especially heartening given her subsequent non-apology, and unwillingness to engage in anything resembling actual reflection.    

Guardian anti-Zionist bias watch: Low hanging fruit edition

As I prepare my presentation on the media assault on Israel’s legitimacy, at the Big Tent for Israel Conference in Manchester tomorrow, the following passages from a report on the kangaroo court known as The Russell Tribunal on Palestine, by NGO Monitor, are just priceless.

On November 5-6, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RToP) held a session in Cape Town, South Africa. The session was convened, under the façade of a legal framework, ostensibly to consider “Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people fits the international legal definitions of the crime of apartheid.”

During the proceedings, these individuals demonized Israel and denied Jewish self-determination.

Israeli MK Haneen Zoabi declared that “I would say, there was no justification for Zionist projects and to have a Jewish state in my homeland.

Zwelinzima Vavi, General Secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) greatly distorted history in alleging that “We will not forget that the Israeli trade union federation Histadrut, which serves the racist Israeli state and the Jewish working class like White trade unions in South Africa served the racist state and the White working class, actively collaborated with the South African apartheid state.”

The legal farce included “jurors” who had all previously declared Israel guilty of “apartheid”: Alice Walker narrated a documentary film about Israel entitled  a “Roadmap to Apartheid”; Ronnie Kasrils, among other attacks, published an op-ed entitled “Israel 2007:Worse than Apartheid”; José Antonio Martín Pallín, stated, “Everyone knows that the State of Israel is an artificial ad hoc creation” 

On media coverage of RToP, NGOM notes:

A series of op-eds and editorials attacked the Tribunal: Russell Tribunal a ‘kangaroo court’ (Times Online, Nov. 7, 2011); Lurid political theatre (The Citizen, Nov. 7, 2011);Demonisation and provocation (Business Day, Nov. 7, 2011), The Russell Tribunal onPalestine dishonours victims of apartheid (Mail & Guardian, Nov. 4, 2011); Lies told about Israel are beyond belief ([South Africa’s] Mail & Guardian, October 30, 2011).

Of course, there were one or two exceptions to the otherwise universal opprobrium:

This PR stunt was a total failure; none of its stated objectives was achieved. The RToP failed to garner positive international media attention other than a single opinion piece placed in the Guardian [here]and coverage in Al-Jazeera. 

To be fair, the RToP website cited another “news source”, under the section on favorable press in the UK, in addition to the Guardian: PressTVthe state controlled propaganda tool of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Who needs satirical take-downs of the institutional anti-Zionist bias of “the world’s leading liberal voice” when they seem all too eager to devolve into such (evidently unintentional) self-parody?

The Insanity of the Middle East: A Handy Guide

This was written by Barry Rubin

Every day in the Middle East, terrible things take place.

The worst are the material acts of violence and oppression. The second-worst are the lies and distortions of truth that help ensure things don’t get better.

Every day in the West, the lies are echoed, amplified, and invented. This also helps ensure things don’t get better in the Middle East and that they do get worse in the West.

Now I’ve found, from the most unexpected place, a single sentence, an ancient proverb, that explains it all. It comes from the Navahos and it goes like this:

You cannot awaken someone who pretends to be sleeping.

In other words, you cannot convince someone who is not merely mistaken but is deliberately lying. They have abandoned professional ethics, democratic and intellectual norms. They have embraced being propagandists and supporters of authoritarian and bloody regimes.

Obviously, this doesn’t apply to everyone, and in those others are the hope for something better. It is those people, who honestly don’t realize that their leaders follow foolish policy, their newspapers all too often lie, and their universities (or at least significant sections of them) have abandoned the pursuit of truth in favor of the manufacture of lies.

If that seems extreme, perhaps that means you fall into that last category of the decent but deceived. Let’s look at some specific cases.

The newspaper.

If there would ever be a last straw for me regarding what was once the English-speaking world’s greatest newspaper, it is this one, the New York Times editorial of October 19, 2011:

“One has to ask: If Mr. Netanyahu can negotiate with Hamas—which shoots rockets at Israel, refuses to recognize Israel’s existence and, on Tuesday, vowed to take even more hostages— why won’t he negotiate seriously with the Palestinian Authority, which Israel relies on to help keep the peace in the West Bank.”

What has one thing have to do with the other? Israel isn’t negotiating with Hamas on a political level but to save the life of a young Israeli who has been in horrible captivity for five years. And this is one with no illusion that Hamas will continue to wage terrorism.

But what’s really disturbing here is the idea that it is Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who have been refusing to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority rather than the other way around. It is frequently repeated in the mass media and it is so obviously absurd that it must now be considered a deliberate lie by propagandists rather than an honest or ignorant or ideologically driven error.

Funnily enough, within hours of this editorial claim we have…

The “Moderates”

The ultimate Palestinian “moderate,” Prime Minister Salam Fayyad,explained:

“We want to see an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967. We want the Palestinian people to live with dignity. Fayyad said the Palestinians are committed to resolving the conflict, but that “the conditions are not right to resume talks.”

In other words, even when the Palestinian prime minister openly rejects talks and even after dozens of previous rejections by him and Palestinian “President” Mahmoud Abbas, and dozens of documented acceptances of negotiations by Netanyahu and Israel, the lie that Israel doesn’t want to negotiate and the PA does is repeated.

Obviously, this is not a misunderstanding but a lie. One reason for this lie is that if the truth were to be told it would have to be explained why the “poor,” “desperate,” “victimized” Palestinians don’t want to negotiate. And the answer would have to be an uncomfortable truth:

Their leaders don’t’ want peace, compromise, or a two-state solution but total victory.

And that truth would require a change in the Western policy and understanding of the issue.

Finally, note the reaction of the leaders of the two Palestinian regimes:

Abbas told the released prisoners:

“You are freedom fighters and holy warriors for the sake of God and the homeland.”

And Hamas deputy leader Abu Marzouk insisted:

“The rest of the prisoners must be released because if they are not released in a normal way they will be released in other ways.”

By murdering Israeli civilians, both the “moderate” and the “radical” explain, these people have done nothing wrong and are free—even encouraged—to do so again in future. You cannot build a democratic state on the basis of calling terrorists “freedom fighters” (and note the “secular” Abbas’s reference to jihad).

And you cannot compromise with another side when you continue to urge and justify the deliberate murder of its civilians.

CiF reader comment of the day: Bashing bankers, bashing Jews

Under the CiF essay, “Muslims proud to be British? There’s something to learn from the surprise, by Mark Greer, there was this comment, by someone using the Occupy@ inspired moniker “BankerBasher, which took a full day before being deleted by CiF Moderators.

 

How kind of our friend to acknowledge that not all Jews, merely those of the Israeli variety, love terrorizing Palestinians.

Yes: Islamists, EDL, Nazis, and Zionists.

As far as “a few loonies”, nearly 3 in 4 Palestinians believe that suicide bombing against civilians is justified in certain circumstances.

But, who can be concerned with such pesky empirical data regarding the continuing problem of Palestinian extremism when the media and right wing Israeli governments can be blamed?

 

How Guardian writers file stories about life in Gaza without mentioning Hamas, without really trying

H/T Margie

In Richard Millett’s guest post at CiF Watch, Channel 4s lying subtitles in Going for Gold in Gaza documentary, Millett demonstrated that the show’s production team may have intentionally mistranslated the subtitles to leave out words that would have shown Israel in a good light, and would have undermined the programme’s anti-Israel narrative.

Indeed almost half of the documentary was devoted to a totally gratuitous demonization of Israel. The problem for Aidan Hartley, the presenter, was that none of the Paralympians he was interviewing had been rendered disabled by Israel. Their disabilities stemmed from either accidents or intermarrying or were hereditary.

However, the subtitles used for the interview with the Palestinian Paralympians conveniently omitted their comments about being treated in Israeli hospitals and rehabilitation centers (per a translation provided to CiF Watch by a professional Arabic translator).

I subsequently paid closer attention to the glowing review of the documentary in the Guardian, by Tom Meltzer, on Nov. 11th. 

Meltzer’s review similarly demonized Israel and omitted any mention of the free medical and rehabilitation care the Palestinians received in Israel.  

Meltzer writes:

“Gaza, we learn, has one of the highest rates of disability in the world. The most common cause is genetic and congenital disorders, but much is, of course, man-made, the product of Israeli missile and artillery strikes.”

And, this:

“There is only one manufacturer of prosthetics in Gaza, which, naturally, we visit. With the city, as reporter Aidan Hartley puts it, “effectively under siege”, the materials needed are in tragically short supply.”

Perhaps Meltzer can be excused for failing to note that – despite the fact that Gaza and Israel are in a virtual state of war – whatever the particulars of the availability of prosthetics, tons of medical supplies cross from Israeli into Gazan each week.  (In 2009, over 10,000 Palestinian Gazans received free care in Israeli hospitals.)

Moreover, in one week alone, from Oct. 7 to Oct. 13, 1,285 truckloads of supplies were imported via Israel into the territory “under siege.”  

The cruel “siege” also allowed for 276 Palestinians during the week to enter into Israel and the West Bank for medical treatment, along with friends or relatives to accompany them.

But, an even more egregious example of Meltzer’s biased report is one telling omission.

Nowhere in the 363 word story does the word Hamas appear.

It’s quite a feat, really, to file a dispatch about deprivations in Gaza without making the intuitive observation that the terrorist government which governs the territory may bear some responsibility for the lack of resources – caused by a partial blockade necessitated by the Islamist regime’s prioritizing the use of precious national resources to import rockets and other deadly weaponry to be used against Israel.

But, of course, such an admission would seriously compromise Meltzer’s poetic truth of Palestinian victimhood and immutable Israeli cruelty.

When there is a competition between a fair and honest, nuanced report about Israel and the Palestinians vs. a poetic tale with familiar villains and victims, the latter will win out at the Guardian every time.

Racist Alliance: Behind the scenes of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine and Pluto Press

Richard Millett’s recent post on the subject of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine’s (RToP) book launch held at Amnesty International’s London premises (where else?) provides a good opportunity to take a look behind the scenes of such an event and to examine the connections of some of the various players and the manner in which some anti-Israel activists attempt to co-opt legitimacy to their campaign by intellectualising it.

The book in question is entitled ‘Corporate Complicity in Israel’s Occupation’ and is based upon the ‘evidence’ presented at the RToP session in London last year. Its editors are Asa Winstanley and Frank Barat and it is published by Pluto Press.

Asa Winstanley is heavily involved with the International Solidarity Movement and spent time in the PA controlled territories working on its behalf.

“The ISM training was yesterday and today. We had about eight new recruits, so it was a pretty good weekend session. At the end of today, we were planning how to spread ourselves around the regions that ISM covers and it was a really good vibe. We have some good activists here now and I am feeling more confident about the state of ISM. The majority of us here now are British, I think.”

Winstanley’s ISM links appear to have continued after his return to the UK and he has been involved in recruiting volunteers and fundraising for the organisation.  He apparently considers his stint with the ISM to have turned him into a Middle East expert, and writes for a variety of outlets including ‘Electronic Intifada’ and ‘Ceasefire’. Winstanley’s level of ‘expertise’ on Israel can be appreciated in the following passage.

“When I lived in Palestine, on the few times I had to travel to Tel Aviv from the West Bank (via Jerusalem,) walking around the public bus stations I was struck by the sheer number of armed, uniformed soldiers who used the public bus system. Anyone who has used buses in Israel for any length of time will tell you they often have more soldiers than civilians on them.

The phenomenon is so widespread that it can only be a deliberate policy. Does some $3 billion a year in military aid from the US government not provide it with enough funding for its own troop transportation? So Israel not only uses Palestinians as human shields, but it even “hides” its soldiers amongst its own civilian population – exactly what Israeli spokespeople accuses Hamas of. Talk about projection.”

Recently Winstanley has invested much in defending the case of Northern Islamic Movement leader Raed Salah who was arrested earlier this year in the UK. (The Tribunal decision is here.)  Here he is being interviewed on the subject by Dr Hanan Chehata (also press officer for Daoud Abdullah’s MEMO) on the Muslim Brotherhood-linked ‘Al Hiwar’ TV channel which was established in 2006 by Azzam Tamimi.

With lies and distortions in practically every sentence, not to mention the liberal sprinklings of ‘Israel lobby’ conspiracy theory and false accusations of ‘Islamophobia’ against the CST and the Board of Deputies of British Jews, it is easy to appreciate why Winstanley is such a hit in anti-Israel circles. Particularly interesting is his declaration that the new book he co-edited is designed to be a ‘handbook’ for those engaging in BDS.

The book’s other editor is the currently UK domiciled French activist Frank Barat who is also the co-ordinator for the Russell Tribunal on Palestine. Barat is also a member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and the UK branch of ICHAD.

In January 2010 Barat spoke as RToP representative at one of the Palestine Memorial Week events which the RToP now organizes annually together with the Palestinian Return Centre, the Palestinian Forum in the UK, the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza, the Islamic Forum of Europe, FOSIS, the Muslim Association of Britain and the Islamic Human Rights Commission, among others.

The majority of these organisations have direct links to Hamas – a proscribed terror organization in the UK – and the Muslim Brotherhood.  The events are endorsed by the PSC, Friends of Al Aqsa, the ISM, the Free Palestine Movement (organizer of flotillas) and Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East.

Barat is also busy on the lecture circuit: here he is for example appearing alongside a Guardian reporter at a Tower Hamlets Jenin Friendship Association event, and here, alongside Ghada Karmi and Jody McIntyre, explaining why he is an ‘activist’.

Barat also appears to have links to the ISM and in addition writes for a number of outlets including Al Jazeera, ‘Electronic Intifada’, the Palestine Chronicle and others. Here is his report for Ma’an from the recent RToP session in South Africa, written together with Al Shabaka’s Victor Kattan who was reporting from the event on Twitter.

Barat also runs his own blog where he links to, among other extremists, Gilad Atzmon, whose antisemitic resume includes leveling the explicit charge, on his blog, that Jews are indeed trying to take over the world.

Barat is also the editor of a book by Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappe.  

Here is Barat’s distinctly incomplete account of the death of Jawaher Abu Rahma.

“Jawaher probably chanted “la la el jidar” (no, no, to the wall) and walked, side by side with others, towards the Apartheid Wall and the line of soldiers, waiting on top of the hill. She then probably run away when the first tear gas were fired, regrouped, and walked back towards the wall again.

……Or maybe she did not. Not this time.

She inhaled a huge quantity of this most poisonous substance and was taken to a Ramallah hospital. She never recovered. She died. The Holy Land is not the land of miracles.”

Both Winstanley and Barat are obviously wedded more to the ‘narrative’ which promotes their careers as ‘activists’ than to the kind of objectivity and adherence to fact one would expect from the editors of books or serious publications.  One must therefore ask why a publishing house would select them for that role and the answer to that question is probably best found in an understanding of the ideologies adhered to by founder and publisher of Pluto Press, Roger van Zwanberg.

Many of the authors on Pluto’s authors list are household names to those familiar with the anti-Israel scene:  Alastair Crooke of Conflicts Forum, Sarah Irving, Mazin Qumsiyeh, Uri Gordon of ‘Anarchists Against the Wall’ and Ted Honderich – who published at letter at the Guardian morally justifying suicide bombing against Israeli civilians – to name but a few.  

Pluto Press’ radical agenda is, however, not entirely limited to the subject of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In 2005, for example, it published a book (preface can be read here) entitled ‘Conjuring Hitler; How Britain and America made the Third Reich’ which, according to reviews, leans on the works of Holocaust Denier David Irving among others.

The publishing house also has its own Youtube channel, organizes events at universities and other venues and dedicates a page on its site to the Russell Tribunal on Palestine.

Roger van Zwanenberg

In addition to his activities at Pluto Press, Roger van Zwanenberg was also a trustee of the apparently now defunct ‘Gateway Trust’  (also known as the ‘Van Zwanenberg Charitable  Trust’) which included Naomi Klein and former Guardian employee Victoria Brittain among its group of  ‘international advisors’ and which was supported financially by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, UNESCO and Pluto Press.

He has also been a member of the advisory board of ‘Just Media’ (founded by the Palestine Chronicle’s Ramzy Baroud – also a Pluto Press author) along with Ilan Pappe, Noam Chomsky and John Pilger.

Here is Pluto Press described in its founder’s own words:

“Our niche, our rationale and our advantage in the marketing place of the world, is that we tackle the great issues of our day… the grandeur of Imperialism, war and peace locally and globally, the tyranny of oppression, and the domination of one people by another…. the great issues as seen through socialist writers (sic) eyes.”

Van Zwanenberg describes himself as a Marxist born into “a Christian family with deep Jewish roots; all my first cousins were and are deeply Jewish.”  That fact is, apparently, sufficient grounds for pulling the ‘asaJew‘ card when deemed an advantage. Here  van Zwanenberg has signed a 2008 ‘Jewish opposition statement to attack on Iran’ organized by ‘Jews against Zionism’. He is also a member of ‘Jews for Justice for Palestinians’.

In a 2006 article entitled “Jewish people of Israel re-enact the horrors of their German oppressors” (written as a response to the IDF’s attempt to locate and rescue the kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit), van Zwanenberg wrote the following:

Israel and its people are now behaving with impunity, just like the State of Germany did in prosecuting the final solution. We are schooled in the belief that we must say “never again!” to such barbarity. But Israel knows that all the surrounding states are too weak to intervene. As we watch with horror the invasion of Gaza, we all feel our helplessness. All the fine words, how the horrors of the Holocaust must always be remembered, are quickly forgotten by the world’s governments as the Jewish people of Israel re-enact the horrors of their German oppressors—the horrors that their mothers and fathers underwent 60 or more years ago.

Just as Nazi Germany could not survive for long, so too, a brutal Israel, brutalizing her own and all the surrounding people, cannot survive for long. As things stand, I cannot see how that demise will come about. But the acts of evil we are now witnessing cannot last without having deep and lasting effects on all of us.” [emphasis mine]

In 2008 van Zwanenberg lent his name to a campaign for the reinstatement of a German academic, Ludwig Watzal, removed from his tenure at an official periodical after making a series of anti-Semitic remarks. Coincidentally or not, Watzal had produced a glowing review of one of Pluto Press’ publications the previous year.

Van Zwanenberg appears to consider himself proficient in understanding what he terms “so-called Terrorism”, supports BDS and is an ardent promoter of ‘anti-Imperialism':

“Western and Eastern interests are everywhere, shipping into and out of the Suez Canal; the struggle to own or control mineral resources; but above all, the fear of “Political Islam”. The Western powers fear of political Islam is a dominant force driving the US to war throughout the region. Some will argue, as I would, that this is thoroughly misunderstood. But the hatred of all things Islamic is a mantra which is everywhere in Western media. The ruling and political classes use this fear to drive their own “War against Terrorism”.”

In 2007, following the controversy over an American publisher’s distribution of the Pluto Press book “Overcoming Zionism”, van Zwanenberg said that:

“Many presses in the United States are frightened of the pressures that the lobby can place on them,” van Zwanenberg said. “We get authors from the United States, precisely because they can’t obtain adequate representation elsewhere, and we have a good reputation for scholarly work on the subject of Israel and Palestine, and we probably have the best collections of any university press in that area.”

“Van Zwanenberg added that the attempts by “the Israel lobby” to cut off Pluto’s American distribution channel were an attack on free expression. “The lobby is very powerful and very well-financed, and small presses like us could be destroyed by these people,” van Zwanenberg said. “They are a threat to our existence and to free speech.” “

Of course in reality no-one is threatening van Zwanenberg’s free speech or the existence of his business, but free speech is a two-way street.

Members of the public have the right (and perhaps the obligation) to be aware of the extremist ideologies which motivate the publication of the type of quasi-academic work produced by publishers such as Pluto Press, particularly when it comes as a result of collaboration with a ‘tribunal’ which misleadingly affords itself quasi-legal status  and faux ‘human rights’ activists such as Winstanley and Barat with links to terror-enabling organisations.