Postcard from Israel – Mount Tabor

“And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedeshnaphtali, and said unto him, Hath not the LORD God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun?” (Judges, 4:6)

Mount Tabor, standing 575 meters above sea level at the eastern end of the Jezreel Valley, is the site of the battle fought by Deborah and Barak against the Canaanite king Sisera, according to the Bible. In Christian tradition, it is the site of the Transfiguration – which explains the presence of two monasteries on its peak; one Roman Catholic and the other Eastern Orthodox. 

Today the Bedouin villages of Shibli – renowned for its delightful Bedouin Heritage Centre - and Umm al Ghanam (now merged to form one municipality), together with the village of Daburiya, nestle at the mountain’s base. The peak is shared by Christian pilgrims, hang-gliding enthusiasts and day-trippers wanting to enjoy the spectacular views.

And if you like a foodie aspect to your day-tripping, then a visit to the farm shop in nearby Kfar Kish to taste wonderful goats’ milk cheeses and local micro-brewery beer is a must.  

Jews who Made a Difference: Episode 1

A guest post by Geary

We all know the story well but few of us, I suspect, know the name.

It is 1847 and we are in the obstetrics section of a Viennese hospital, and it’s one of the most dangerous places in the world. Only the destitute, the homeless, the husband-less are sent there; any woman who can afford to is delivered at home. The mortality rate in the hospital for mothers and babies from puerperal (“child-bed”) fever, a form of blood-poisoning, hovers around 30%.

Enter a young Hungarian doctor, freshly graduated and horrified at what he sees. Unlike so many of his illustrious seniors he does not despise the patients and is determined to discover the cause of this daily hecatomb. He begins to observe and keep records. His name is Ignaz Semmelweis.

He soon remarked that, among women in the first ward of the clinic, the death rate from childbed fever was two or three times as high as among those in the second ward, even though the two wards were identical with the exception that medical students were taught in the first and midwives in the second. He put forward the thesis that perhaps the students carried something to the patients they examined during labour. The death of a friend from a wound infection incurred during the examination of a woman who died of puerperal infection gave support to his reasoning. He concluded that students who came directly from the dissecting room to the maternity ward carried the infection from mothers who had died of the disease to healthy mothers. He ordered the students to wash their hands in a solution of chlorinated lime before examining patients.

Under these procedures, the mortality rates in the first ward dropped from 18.27 to 1.27 percent, and in March and August of 1848 no woman died in childbirth in his division.

The students accepted Semmelweis’s thesis with great enthusiasm, but his superiors resisted because they could not and would not understand. This was, after all, before the germ theory of disease had been formulated and infection was felt to be carried by “bad air” (“miasma”) or, in the case of so many fallen women, it was a judgement from God. And the idea that infection could possibly be carried by doctors, the closest thing to gods themselves, was simply unthinkable. Semmelweis came under suspicion as a trouble-maker and those suspicions were confirmed when he threw in his lot with the radicals during the Vienna Spring of 1848. A Jew to boot, he was no longer welcome in Vienna.

But it was Semmelweis who won. He transferred to Pest and there too he decimated the incidence of puerperal fever, whilst in Vienna they continued to poison their women and babies. His ideas gradually spread and when John Snow in England demolished the miasma theory of infection and the germ theory began to take hold, Semmelweis was vindicated. His influence on the development of knowledge and control of infection was hailed by Joseph Lister, the father of modern antisepsis: “I think with the greatest admiration [and joy] of him and his achievement.”

He could have had an easier and decidedly wealthier life but, thanks to his humanity, his dedication, his insight, his sheer pig-headed unselfish persistence, Dr Ignaz Semmelweis was truly a Jew who made a difference.

Sources: Encyclopedia Britannica, Wikipedia, Carter, K and Carter, B. 2005. Childbed Fever: A Scientific Biography of Ignaz Semmelweis (2nd edn.)

*****

It isn’t individual bravery that wins wars, though it’s certainly a necessary quality. It’s brains that win modern wars and not the brains of generals, though these can certainly lose them. No, it’s the brains of the men and women in the white lab-coats, the scientists and technologists.

It’s 1916 and the British government is deeply worried. The country’s munitions industry is running short of acetone, a vital component of cordite, the explosive in the War’s most decisive weapon, the artillery shell. Unless an inexpensive source of acetone is found and found quickly, the War will inevitably be lost and the economy ruined.

Chaim Weizmann is a Russian émigré and Jewish biochemist, working at the University of Manchester. He’s a brain in a white lab coat who finds a way of producing acetone from simple starch, potatoes to you and me. The rest – as it always is – was history. The British Army survived and then thrived, pounding German dreams of European domination to defeat with Weizmann’s acetone. Weizmann himself used his influence to persuade a grateful government to adopt the Balfour agreement and, even though Israel was in the event short-changed, it was enough to earn Weizmann the first Presidency of the fledgling Jewish State.

Chaim Weizman

There are two lessons to be learned.

Number one, hang on to your Jews. Those states which have expelled their Jewish populations live to pay a heavy price. Sixteenth Century Spain and Portugal found themselves deprived of the benefit of Jewish commercial experience and, despite massive initial advantages, were overtaken and overshadowed by tiny Holland and then England, who had taken in many of their Jews. Hitler’s folly in exterminating his Jewish brains and driving others into the welcoming arms of the Allies needs no comment. Is the Arab world better off, scientifically, culturally, educationally for the brutal expulsion of so many of its Jewish communities after 1948?

The second lesson is for Israel’s enemies. Israel lacks the countless legions of Egypt, the big battalions of Iran. It has no steady flood of petrodollars. But what it does have is an endless supply of brains in white lab coats. And tremble before the Jews in the white lab-coats. Because it is they who make the difference.

Sources: Encyclopedia Britannica, Wikipedia

*****

Everyone has heard of the great Jewish philanthropists, the Guggenheim family and the Rothschilds, but donating for good works seems to be something of an obsession for Jews who’ve “made their pile”; there are too many to name. One of my personal favourites amongst the lesser known is James Loeb who, apart from setting up an eminent music school and donating his art collections for public display at Harvard and Munich, found time to endow the Loeb Library of classical literature, opening the ancient world to a mass audience at affordable prices. No-one who ever read one can forget the elegance of a Loeb volume.

James Loeb

‘Comment is Free’ contributor claims International Solidarity Movement is “non-violent”.

Radical Chic: ISM members pose with Palestinian terrorists

For much of the Guardian-style far-left media, commentaries – and indeed often straight news reports – serve largely to buttress preconceived ideologically determined conclusions, and often have only a tangential relationship with facts or journalistic context.  

In such a propagandistic paradigm, there is no objective truth as such, only a greater ‘narrative truth’. 

Ami Kaufman’s Aug. 29 ‘Comment is Free’ piece, “For many Israelis, Rachel Corrie was a nuisance“, represents an exquisite example of this phenomenon.

The polemical objective which the +972 founder wanted to achieve was quite predictable: contextualizing Corrie’s death, in 2003, as part of a larger pattern of Israeli intolerance towards political dissent.

Thus, the strap line:

“Since Rachel Corrie’s death, the Israeli establishment has been losing patience with activists of any kind”

In the essay, Kaufman writes:

“The Israeli establishment has less and less patience for activists of any kind of late. As part of the recent government offensive on human rights in Israel, freedom of expression has been hit hard.”

Kaufman, like Chris McGreal and the author(s) of the official Guardian editorial on Corrie’s death, doesn’t even attempt to rationally refute the Israeli court’s decision, question the judge’s reasoning or dispute the evidence or testimony presented at trial.

No, for Kaufman, Israel’s guilt was a foregone conclusion – and the judge’s decision thus represented a “slippery slope” towards the abrogation of civil rights in Israel.

But, Kaufman’s polemic becomes especially risible in his assertion about International Solidarity Movement.

“Corrie, bulldozed to death by a massive D9 Caterpillar on 16 March 2003, was part of an activist group called ISM – International Solidarity Movement. This is a group of international activists who advocate nonviolent demonstrations in the West Bank (and Gaza back then, before the disengagement in 2005) in solidarity with Palestinians opposing the occupation.

A nonviolent movement, you say?

Well, isn’t that what Israelis were always looking for? For their enemies to abandon terror, suicide bombings and rockets and to go down the route of Gandhi?” [Emphasis added]

Of course, the suggestion that ISM is non-violent is beyond parody.

The ISM’s website states that it recognizes “the Palestinian right to resist Israeli violence and occupation via legitimate armed struggle.” [emphasis added]

As I wrote previously, ISM’s activities have included “serving as human shields for terrorist operatives wanted by the Israeli security forces”, and “provid[ing] Palestinian terrorist operatives…with financial, logistic and moral support”.

Paul Larudee, the Northern California head of the ISM, has said that his group “…recognize[s] that violence is necessary and it is permissible for oppressed and occupied people to use armed resistance and we recognize their right to do so.”

Similarly, in a 2002 article, ISM co-founders Adam Shapiro and Huwaida Arraf wrote, “The Palestinian resistance must take on a variety of characteristics, both non-violent and violent,” adding that “[i]n actuality, nonviolence is not enough…Yes, people will get killed and injured.”

ISM activist Susan Barclay admitted that she worked with representatives of Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists originating from UK who had attacked the Mike’s Place bar in Tel Aviv, in 2003, murdering three people.  The Mike’s Place bombers had, according to an Israeli report, ”forg[ed] links with…members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM)”.  

Also, senior Islamic Jihad terrorist Shadi Sukiya was arrested while he was hiding in ISM’s Jenin office and being assisted by two ISM activists.

Just because individual ISM members may not personally fire the weapons which kill and maim Israelis, an organization which aids and abets the Islamist terror groups, like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, that intentionally murder innocent Jews is – by definition – a reactionary, anti-peace, pro-violence movement.

No amount of sophistry or doublespeak can obfuscate this painfully obvious fact.

On the inspiration behind a ‘Comment is Free’ contributor’s Tweet alleging Israeli savagery

John Carlin is a journalist and author, whose book ‘Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation’, about the 1995 Rugby World Cup, was the basis for the film Invictus.

He also helped write the script for the film, “Die Hard 4‘.

He has written for many publications, and is a senior international writer for El País, the world’s leading newspaper in the Spanish language.  

He’s also been publishing at the Guardian’s blog, ‘Comment is Free’, since 2000.

Fortunately, a fluent Spanish speaker was able to translate one of his recent Tweets:

In English, it reads: 

Irrefutable article demonstrating that Holocaust memory is, for the Israeli army, a license to kill Palestinian children”

Which article does Carlin link to, ‘proving’ that Israelis cynically exploit their past suffering to murder kids?

Here it is:

So, what specifically in McGreal’s essay would lead Mr. Carlin to Tweet such a thing?

Likely, these passages helped:

[Corrie’s] death was not arbitrary but one of a pattern of killings as the Israeli army pursued a daily routine of attacks intended to terrorise the Palestinian population of southern Gaza into submission.”

“The case laid bare the state of the collective Israeli military mind, which cast the definition of enemies so widely that children walking down the street were legitimate targets.”

And, finally, where does the Holocaust come in?  

It enters the picture in the following passage from McGreal’s piece, citing instances of Palestinian children killed during the 2nd Intifada, which McGreal employs to argue that Rachel Corrie’s killing was consistent with a pattern of IDF behavior. 

The Israeli military commander in southern Gaza at the time was Colonel Pinhas “Pinky” Zuaretz. A few weeks after Corrie’s death, I (as the Guardian’s correspondent in Israel) spoke to him about how it was that so many children were shot by Israeli soldiers at times when there was no combat [during the Second Intifada] . His explanation was chilling.

“Every name of a child here, it makes me feel bad because it’s the fault of my soldiers. I need to learn and see the mistakes of my troops,” he said. But Zuaretz was not going to do anything about it; and by the end of the interview, he was casting the killings as an unfortunate part of the struggle for Israel’s very survival.

I remember the Holocaust. We have a choice, to fight the terrorists or to face being consumed by the flames again,” he said.

So, there you have it: Everything John Carlin needed to know about Israel but, until McGreal’s ‘revelations’, was afraid to ask.  

And, of course, we have what we need to know about Chris McGreal’s latest anti-Zionist formula: The exploitation of Rachel Corrie’s death, a choice quote, and examples of Palestinian casualties during the Second Intifada to prove his conclusion that the Jewish state hides behind the Holocaust to intentionally kill Palestinian children with impunity.

John Carlin didn’t need a dog whistle to hear McGreal’s hideous defamation of the Jewish state. 

Slouching towards irrelevance: Is ‘Comment is Free’ eating the Guardian?

Rob Marchant, a former British Labour Party manager, wrote a very important piece, at The Centre Left Blog, on Aug. 29, about racism at ‘Comment is Free’, and, more broadly, the institution’s regression and increasing rejection of the genuinely liberal ideals it once ardently defended. 

Writes Marchant (with emphases added): 

Once upon a time, there was a left-wing newspaper. Its founder, C.P. Scott, clearly saw it as less of a paper and more of a social mission. My grandfather, a true Socialist all his life, religiously took the Guardian every day, and I would leaf through it as a teenager, mulling over its worthy appraisals of Neil Kinnock’s latest speech or Billy Bragg’s new album. Compared with other papers, it always seemed a bit more in tune with “yoof”, which I then was, and the good guys, which were Labour.

Marchant then turned to the Josh Trevino row.

Last week a controversial new columnist, Josh Treviño, joined that newspaper. As a former advisor to the Bush administration, he was not necessarily a natural choice for the paper, but outside observers might have been pleasantly surprised to see, for once, a little compensating political balance at the newspaper.

Within days, he and the newspaper had agreed to part, officially on the pretext that he had slipped a reference into an article which had broken editorial guidelines – eighteen months previously.

While this sounds like it might be a fair explanation, it becomes a little odder when you put it in context. For the record, Treviño had also been involved in a controversy over his rather insensitive tweets regarding the Palestine flotilla; but that, too, had been over a year ago, he apologised and the Guardian had defended him.

Then, a few days ago, a group of what can only be described as far-left activists wrote to the Guardianto complain about Treviño’s hiring. Five days later, he was gone. The group included Baroness Jenny Tonge, who was earlier this year ejected by the Liberal Democrats for her unacceptable views, Stop The War Coalition’s Lindsey German, and various members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, iEngage and Middle East Monitor. Or rather, when the only MP you can get to defend your cause is Jeremy Corbyn, you know you’re operating at the margins.

The whole argument is given in detail here forand against the Guardian (in the interests of fairness I include both, but I have to say that I find that against a great deal more convincing). Whatever your view on the Treviño controversy, though, there is a rather more disturbing, and difficult-to-avoid, conclusion: that this oddball collection from the fringes of politics, who wrote the letter, clearly have some sway on the editorial and managerial decisions of a national newspaper.

Marchant then contextualized the decision to fire Trevino:

There is a great deal more: some points of interest may already be known to readers of my blog, such as the printing of a puff-piece by unpleasant Holocaust cartoonist Carlos Latuff, or CiF’s running, on Holocaust Memorial Day, of an op-ed by Sheik Raed Salah, hate-preacher and convicted fundraiser for terrorism; or finally, its later op-ed in June, by someone who does not even pretend not to be a terrorist: Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of suicide-bombers Hamas in Gaza. Nice.

Marchant adds:

Where the Guardian may think it is being edgy and controversial, it is often being, at the very least, offensive to the sensibilities of ordinary people not known for their over-sensitivity. At worst it is laid open to not unreasonable charges of racism.

Indeed. 

Read the rest of Marchant’s incisive essay, here.

Corrie family lawyer suggests Nazis were more morally legitimate than the Israeli “monster”

Harriet Sherwood, on Aug. 28, filed three stories on the Rachel Corrie verdict, and quoted the Corrie family lawyer, Hussein Abu Hussein, in each one. (Emphases in all quotes have been added.)

Here’s a passage from one, titled Rachel Corrie lawsuit result ‘dangerous precedent’ say human rights groups:

Hussein Abu Hussein, the Corrie family’s lawyer, said the ruling sent “a very dangerous message and precedent that there are no restrictions on Israeli military behaviour in Gaza and the West Bank”. The ruling would “close the doors of justice to civilian victims”, including foreigners, and “expand a legal black hole” in which Israel seeks to evade responsibility for its actions.

The verdict, he said, was “yet another example of where impunity has prevailed over accountability and fairness. We knew from the beginning that we had an uphill battle to get truthful answers and justice, but we are convinced that this verdict distorts the strong evidence presented in court, and contradicts fundamental principles of international law with regard to protection of human rights defenders. In denying justice in Rachel Corrie’s killing, this verdict speaks to the systemic failure to hold the Israeli military accountable for continuing violations of basic human rights.”

Another story, Rachel Corrie ruling ‘deeply troubling’, says her family, included this:

Hussein Abu Hussein, the family’s lawyer, said: “This verdict is yet another example of where impunity has prevailed over accountability and fairnessRachel Corrie was killed while non-violently protesting home demolitions and injustice in Gaza, and today, this court has given its stamp of approval to flawed and illegal practices that failed to protect civilian life.

“We knew from the beginning that we had an uphill battle to get truthful answers and justice, but we are convinced that this verdict distorts the strong evidence presented in court, and contradicts fundamental principles of international law with regard to protection of human rights defenders. In denying justice in Rachel Corrie’s killing, this verdict speaks to the systemic failure to hold the Israeli military accountable for continuing violations of basic human rights.

And, another post by Sherwood, Rachel Corrie’s death was an accident, Israeli judge rules, included this:

After the ruling was read out by the judge, the family’s lawyer, Hussein Abu Hussein, said: “We knew from the beginning that we had an uphill battle to get truthful answers and justice. But we are concerned that this verdict denies the strong evidence and contradicts the principles of international law.

Further, in a New York Times story on Aug. 28, Abu Hussein was quoted, thus:

It’s a black day for activists of human rights and people who believe in values of dignity. We believe this decision is a bad decision for all of us – civilians first of all, and peace activists.”

So, based on the quotes in Sherwood’s stories, it would seem that Mr. Abu Hussein is a man of peace, with a passion for fairness, justice, moral accountability, human dignity and just plain decency.  

Well, Palestinian Media Watch released a statement made by Abu Hussein last month that reveals another side of him.

Let’s go to the video:

So, just to clarify, Abu Hussein is a liberal activist, and defender of human dignity…who simultaneously believes that Nazi Germany was arguably more morally legitimate than Israel – a wretched monster of a state which needs to be crushed.

They sure don’t make “peace activists” like they used to.

An alternative future for Middle Eastern refugees

A guest post by AKUS

Washington Post, August 26, 2012: Sharp increase in refugee flows from Syria

The closure [of the Turkish border] left more than 7,000 refugees stranded in olive groves just inside Syria at the two places where most of the Syrians cross, while Turkish officials look for a way to accommodate them at camps that can’t keep pace with the influx. … But with more than 80,000 refugees in Turkey, nearly double the number a month ago, officials warned that the country is rapidly approaching the point at which it will no longer be able to cope … The number of refugees being accommodated by Syria’s neighbors has already outstripped the United Nations’ projection of 185,000 by the end of the year, with more than 200,000 registered in Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon as of Friday. The number in Turkey has climbed by 10,000 since Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, warned a week ago that Turkey would press for international action if the figure passed 100,000. The latest arrivals suggest that threshold could be reached within weeks, if not days.

Washington Cyberpost, August 26, 2072: UNSCOSR Budget must increase to serve needs of Syrian refugees

The UN Special Commission on Syrian Refugees, UNSCOSR, issued a warning that its budget was no longer sufficient to feed, clothe and house the Syrian refugees living in Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon.  Commissioner George Galloway Jr. stated in June:

Since the UN agreed in 2015 to follow UNRWA protocol and to award perpetual refugee status to those who fled Syria in the upheavals of 2012, and to their descendents, the number of refugees which was estimated at approximately 350,000 by mid-2013 when Iran took control of Syria now numbers approximately 3.5 million. All efforts during the last six decades to persuade the Sunni-led government, which, with Iranian support has controlled Syria since that time, to allow refugees to return to their homes have failed. The Syrian government says it cannot afford to take back a group of people who left the country 60 years ago. Our efforts to reach accommodation on budget sharing with UNRWA, which is responsible for the feeding, clothing, and housing of approximately 25 million Palestinian refugees have not yielded any results.

UNSCORS’ Year 2072 budget of $35 billion dollars is stretched to the limit, UNSCOSR claims. Its need for 2073 is for $42 billion, based on a budget of $12,000 per refugee for clothes and special programs similar to those managed by UNRWA for the last 124 years.

UNRWA has an estimated budget of approximately $400 billion dollars, compared to its 2011 budget (the last time budget numbers were published) of $1.2 billion. This is due to natural increase from 7 million people to 35 million still considered refugees despite attempts at encouraging birth control, and inflation that averaged 4% during the last 60 years. Inflation has necessitated the payment to Palestinians per capita from about $1,000 annually to $12,000 per capita. It represents approximately 35% of the total UN budget.

This year rioting in the streets of Oslo and Stockholm forced the governments  of Norway and Sweden to rescind the laws instituted in 2025 following a referendum that made it compulsory to provide funding, without limitation, to UNRWA after the USA, UK, Germany and France decided that they would only provide funding to refugees who had actually left homes in 1948 Palestine and not to their descendents.  By 2035, the last refugee meeting that definition had passed away, and no funds have been received since from those countries. Thus UNRWA is also finding funding inadequate. Some estimates for UNRWA’s budget requirements run as high as $1 trillion ten years from now, squeezing out aid to all other UN relief agencies as it passes the 50% mark for all UN activities.

While this Scandinavian refusal to continue funding UNRWA might have been assumed to free up funds for Syrian refugees, the same demand has been made to reduce funding to the Syrian refugees so no additional funding has become available from that source.

Arab states that initially supported the Syrian refugees have stated that they can no longer afford to do so. Their oil reserves have greatly diminished, reducing their ability to support their growing and largely unemployed populations.  The use of alternative energy sources in the developed countries of North America, Europe, and the Far East coupled with the enormous reserves of shale oil and natural gas discovered in North America, Siberia and China have drastically reduced demand and therefore prices and thus their ability to provide much-needed aid to Syrian refugees.

In addition, China has preferred to provide funding to the African countries, where starvation and warfare continue to make it difficult to tap the immense natural resources of the continent. These resources are necessary for China’s huge nano-electronic business  and the special materials used in building asteroid mining spaceships critical to China’s high-tech economy. All efforts to encourage the Chinese to broaden their assistance to Syrian refugees have been met with refusal.

One bright spot is that Jordan’s success in developing its agricultural sector with Israeli assistance has somewhat reduced the risk of the kind of starvation for refugees in its territory that can be seen in Africa. In addition, Israel no longer has to send supplies to Gaza since Egypt’s UN-brokered annexation of that territory in 2017 and the disbanding of Hamas. It has allocated that portion of its budget to shipping food to refugees in Lebanon and Jordan. Turkey has yet to follow suit, claiming that the Egyptian annexation of Gaza was an illegal deal between Israel and Egypt that has no standing under international law.

However, Israel, while recognizing that it has a regional interest in settling the Syrian refugee problem, maintains that the cost of feeding its largely unemployed religious community without UN assistance has become prohibitive. The Israelis have not agreed to continue to contribute additional funds  to UNRWA or UNSCOSR (except for shipping food and medical supplies as stated) as they did for a few years in exchange for the Egyptian annexation of Gaza given the reduction in defense spending that followed the annexation. Turkey has prevented various aid shipments and flotillas from European countries from passing through its territory. It has tied any progress on that front to acceptance as a member of the EU.

Those who fled Syria and their descendents now live as stateless citizens in dismal camps along Syria’s borders.  Competition for work with Palestinian refugees which started even as early as 2012 for waste disposal positions, traditionally given to those living in the camps, has led to tensions and factional fighting between the two groups. Decades of enforced idleness, lack of opportunity and education, continuing denial of women’s rights, and a high birth rate have only exacerbated the challenges facing these unfortunate people despite UNSCOSR’s best efforts.

Given the similarity of the challenges facing the two refugee groups, and the identical regulatory framework in which UNSCOSR and UNRWA operate that demands that all descendents of the original refugees continue to be maintained as refugees, UNSCOSR has requested a special session of the General Assembly be convened to discuss how to meet the pending budgetary, and therefore humanitarian, crisis among those it has been looking after for the last six decades. If no additional funding is available, it proposes that the UN combine the budgets of UNSCOSR and UNRWA and share the total based on an equal per capita allocation.

This proposal has been vigorously opposed by the leadership of the Palestinian Authority from its headquarters in Lichtenstein and by members of the Palestinian Solidarity Councils in Britain, the US, and South Africa. A spokeswoman for the Fatah Resistance faction of the PA wrote in an op-ed in the New York Guardian (formed through the simultaneous bankruptcy of the NYT and the Guardian UK, then purchased in 2014 by the PA to act as its media arm using funds provided by UNRWA as part of its support for Palestinian cultural activities) that until the Palestinian refugees are returned to their homes in Palestine not a cent will be taken from UNRWA’s budget. The PA insists that the budget for its refugees in the Middle East will continue to be administered from its Budget Office in Lichtenstein.

Commissioner Galloway Jr. of UNSCOSR stated:

 “We at UNSCOSR, however, believe the same logic applies to our refugees, and will continue to propose equitable allocation of funds for Arab refugees in the Middle East”.

Israel has objected to the use of the term “Arab refugees”, claiming that Jewish refugees from Arab countries should also be included in this allocation of funds. The special session is expected to take place at Durban 33, to be held in Tehran next year, where a motion has been put forward condemning Israel for not intervening in Syria in 2012. The USA has announced it will not attend, an action condemned by the EU and Zimbabwe.

The Guardian’s Rachel Corrie obsession.

The Guardian’s coverage of the culmination of the civil law suit brought by the parents of Rachel Corrie, the verdict for which was handed down in Haifa on Tuesday August 28th, has become obsessive. 

On Sunday August 26th Harriet Sherwood wrote a long pre-emptive puff piece based on an interview with the Corrie family. Notably – despite the recent “bruising” Guardian scandal on the subject of conflicts of interest – Sherwood saw fit to promote the play ‘My Name is Rachel Corrie’ in her article, but failed to mention that it was co-written by her Guardian colleague Katherine Viner.

 “The family released Rachel’s emails to the media. “It was the Guardian that picked them up very quickly, and it was huge, very significant. All kinds of things came from that.” Rachel’s powerful writing was adapted into an acclaimed stage play, My Name is Rachel Corrie, performed in at least 10 countries, including Israel.”

On Monday August 27th Sherwood was back with another one-sided article, opening with the following odd – and completely evidence-free – “etched in stone” declaration: 

“Her blonde hair, megaphone and orange fluorescent jacket with reflective stripes made 23-year-old Rachel Corrie easily identifiable as an international activist on the overcast spring afternoon in 2003 when she tried to stop an advancing Israeli military bulldozer.”

Tuesday August 28th found Sherwood in Haifa, reporting from the court, with one article published at 08:05 BST (less than an hour after the verdict was given) containing a mere six sentences on the verdict itself, and with the rest of the article devoted to the Corries’ point of view. 

At 11:31 BST, Sherwood published another article on the same subject which included videos of the Corrie family. 

At 12:43 BST the Guardian published a particularly malign piece by Chris McGreal  which included – among many others – the following bizarre claims. (Emphasis added)

“An Israeli judge on Tuesday perpetuated the fiction that Corrie’s death was a terrible accident..”

“…her death was not arbitrary but one of a pattern of killings as the Israeli army pursued a daily routine of attacks intended to terrorise the Palestinian population of southern Gaza into submission.”

“The case laid bare the state of the collective Israeli military mind, which cast the definition of enemies so widely that children walking down the street were legitimate targets..”

“With that went virtual impunity for Israeli troops no matter who they killed or in what circumstances – an impunity reinforced by Tuesday’s verdict in Haifa.”

[For more on the subject of the choice of term ‘impunity’, see here. ]

At 15:49 BST the Guardian had Glen Greenwald jump in with an article on “How the US and Israeli justice systems whitewash state crimes”. 

Harriet Sherwood was back at 20:49 BST with dark prophecies concerning a “dangerous precedent” and a “legal black hole” which she tried to shore up by means of quotes from the much discredited NGO Human Rights Watch and Shawan Jabarin of Al Haq – a man with alleged ties to the PFLP.  

At 22:10 BST the Guardian published an editorial on the subject and at 22:25 BST it published the cartoon below, which has since been discussed at The Commentator

Nick Hayes 29.08.2012

On Wednesday August 29th at 10:29 BST, a further article on the subject was published – written by Ami Kaufman of the far Left 972 magazine

In other words: eight articles, one editorial and a cartoon; all on the same subject, all in the space of less than 72 hours. And still counting. 

Particularly interesting is the editorial, because it represents not just the random views of a specific writer, but the Guardian’s editorial stance on the subject. From it, we learn much about the Guardian’s blind and unquestioned faith in the automatic guilt of Israel.

The editorial states: (Emphasis added)

“Perpetuating the myth that her death was a tragic accident, the judge did not deviate from the official line.”

A myth is “a popular belief or tradition that has grown up around something or someone”. By its very nature as a belief, it is not based on facts. So for the anonymous writer of this editorial, and by extension the Guardian editorial team as a whole, no matter what facts and evidence are presented, they are to be rejected because the possibility that Rachel Corrie’s death could be a tragic accident is something which in their view will never be proved or even accommodated. It is also, by insinuation, a possibility which should be scorned by the ‘enlightened’ – as myths usually are. 

The editorial goes on to point out disparagingly that “the investigators initially assigned were 19 years old”. Whether or not that is in fact the case I cannot say, but as anyone who knows anything about Israel is aware, yes – young people here take on extraordinary responsibilities at an early age during their army service (the investigators would have been part of the Military Police’s investigation unit). In a country in which 19 and 20 year-olds also pilot F16s, the suggestion that age is a reflection of ability or responsibility is both a ridiculous and tacky tactic. 

Had whoever wrote this editorial even bothered to read either the court’s decision (over 60 pages) or at least the English language summary before putting finger to keyboard?  Apparently not, because if they had, they could not – in honesty – have written the following:

“Rachel Corrie died trying to protect a Palestinian home from demolition.”

In fact, the court established otherwise. 

“The mission of the IDF force on the day of the incident was solely to clear the ground.  This clearing and leveling included leveling the ground and clearing it of brush in order to expose hiding places used by terrorists, who would sneak out from these areas and place explosive devices with the intent of harming IDF soldiers.  There was an urgency to carrying out this mission so that IDF look-outs could observe the area and locate terrorists thereby preventing explosive devices from being buried.  The mission did not include, in any way, the demolition of homes.  The action conducted by the IDF forces was done at real risk to the lives of the soldiers.  Less than one hour before the incident that is the focus of this lawsuit, a live hand-grenade was thrown at the IDF forces.”

A D9 bulldozer of the type Rachel Corrie chose to approach.

All the same, the employment of the ‘home demolition’ meme allows the writer to launch into a tirade of misinformed conjecture on the subjects of “collective punishment” and military law. From there, he or she moves on to the emotive subject of the deaths of Palestinian children during the second Intifada. 

Of course no mention is made whatsoever of the hundreds of Israeli children who died in that same terror war as a result of deliberate murder. Cynically, the editorial then goes on to state:

“In the last nine years, Cindy and Craig Corrie have been fighting for something that any parent who has lost their child has a right to – the truth.”

There is something deeply warped about the championing of “truth” by a newspaper which stubbornly refuses to accept the truth – even as proven in a court of law – about the accidental death of Rachel Corrie. Even more disturbing is the fact that the same newspaper is an active and willing partner in the habitual concealment of the truth about terrorist organisations responsible for the deaths of thousands of other children – both Israeli and Palestinian

The distorted Guardian view of the Rachel Corrie case – as officially set out in this editorial – is indicative of the Guardian’s entire approach to Israel. Its whitewashing of terrorism and its supporters and its selective championing of ‘human rights’ (with no concern whatsoever expressed for those – Muslim, Christian or Jew – whose rights are compromised by its favourite pet terrorist organization) is not ‘Left’, ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’, but discriminatory, reactionary and sinister. 

This latest bout of binge publishing is all too reminiscent of the Guardian’s behavior during the Mavi Marmara incident when anyone and everyone was wheeled out to write speculative, uninformed – but uniformly condemnatory – comment in ridiculously large amounts before the facts of the case were anywhere near clear. 

In that case too, the Guardian was subsequently unable to admit its mistakes because it had so heavily invested itself in one narrow preconceived version of “the truth”, with almost religious zeal. Then too, the Guardian went into obsessive-compulsive mode, focusing on the production of repetitive articles all bearing the shared hallmark of ritual condemnation of Israel. Then too, its blinding contempt for – and illogical animosity towards – the Jewish State was laid out for all to see. 

And yet again, in that case as in this, the Guardian’s uncontrollable obsession once more exposed it as a voluntary arm of anti-Israel activism rather than a credible, sober reporter of news and events. 

Guardian’s beacon of Islamist justice – the crescent moon shines bright on ‘Comment is Free’

Cross posted by The Commentator

The Guardian’s cartoon, 29 August 2012, Nick Hayes

You’d be forgiven for glossing over The Guardian’s daily cartoon. We usually do.

Today however, something caught our eye.

In the cartoon by Nick Hayes, The Guardian illustrates its interpretation of yesterday’s Israeli court verdict that ruled that Rachel Corrie’s death in 2003 was accidental.

The image, as you can see below, shows a bulldozer with the Israeli flag across its blade, pushing up the earth and in its wake, scooping up and supposedly uprooting or destroying Lady Justice’.

The Guardian, of course, is entitled to its view that Rachel Corrie, defender of terrorists, was Lady Justice in disguise. We would expect no less of their crass and nuance-deficient analysis on the matter.

But what stands out to us is the beacon of light shining through the stormy clouds behind the scene.

The star and crescent is the internationally recognised symbol of Islam, seen in the flags of nations such as Pakistan and Azerbaijan. You know, those guiding lights of human rights, transparency and democracy.

The Islamist party in Gaza, which, to use Guardianista’s language, ‘rejects Israeli occupation and fights for a free Palestine’, is none other than the internationally recognised terrorist organisation, Hamas.

The crescent therefore, taken in context, is an effective endorsement of a terrorist entity; of Hamas.

Nick Hayes and The Guardian may well believe that the Islamist outfit guilty of endless terrorist atrocities, endangering the lives of Palestinians, the relentless murder of Israeli citizens, the subjugation of the Gazan population under an effective dictatorship (when were the next elections due, again?) is a shining beacon of hope casting a light on Lady Justice and the Israeli oppressors – but we implore the common reader to see past this subliminal and disgraceful narrative.

Whatever readers think of Rachel Corrie’s death and of the ongoing Middle East conflict, it is certainly another step to legitimise a terrorist outfit like Hamas. It is a discredit, even to the likes of The Guardian, that this cartoon ever made it past the editors at Comment is Free.

Let’s see what some Guardian commenters said:

“Not too sure about the crescent shining rays of light at this moment in time.” – showmaster

“The reasoning behind the presence of the crescent moon is fairly obvious” –cmnimo

“Though Palestine is benighted and Justice is toppled, the crescent moon of Islam shines like a beacon through the Israeli smokescreen. Not exactly subtle.” –peterNW1

It’s also interesting and distressing to note that when Anders Behring Breivik was sentenced, The Guardian did not run any form of cartoon on the much commented upon injustice (short length) of his sentence.

It’s safe to assume they also did no such thing for the Itamar massacres and never have we seen them do anything of the sort illustrating rocket fire from Gaza landing in Israeli towns. You get the picture.

Guardian’s Chris McGreal suggests IDF ‘killing’ of Corrie no different than Hamas suicide bombing

While Chris McGreal may be the Guardian’s Washington correspondent, he is certainly not a “reporter”.

His shrill, tendentious activist journalism – which arguably makes Harriet Sherwood seem sober, fair and professional in contrast – rarely tries too hard to disguise the desired polemical target.  McGreal is more similar in style to Richard Silverstein than a journalist for a ‘serious’ broadsheet.

His past efforts at objective reporting on Israel have included a retweet from an anti-Zionist blogger accusing Israel of being in the grips of “psychosis”, a Tweet (and accompanying article) clearly suggesting that the Israel lobby exerts a dangerous degree of control over the U.S. Congress and a Guardian report characterizing President George W. Bush’s presumed deference to the Jewish state as slave-like.

McGreal also accused South African Jews of being complicit with the Apartheid regime in Pretoria.

The first two paragraphs of McGreal’s latest anti-Zionist screed (Rachel Corrie verdict exposes Israeli military mindset“, August 28th) lays bare the extremist ideological tick consistently on display at the Guardian: imputing a moral equivalence between Islamist terrorists who intentionally murder innocent civilians and the Jewish object of their malign obsession.

In the context of the Israeli court’s rejection of a lawsuit filed by the family of Rachel Corrie, McGreal writes:

“Reporters covering Israel are routinely confronted with the question: why not call Hamas a terrorist organisation? It’s a fair point. How else to describe blowing up families on buses but terrorism?

But the difficulty lies in what then to call the Israeli army when it, too, at particular times and places, has used indiscriminate killing and terror as a means of breaking Palestinian civilians. One of those places was Rafah, in the southern tip of the Gaza strip, where Rachel Corrie was crushed by a military bulldozer nine years ago as she tried to stop the Israeli army going about its routine destruction of Palestinian homes.”

Even if you were to ignore the details of the judge’s decision – as McGreal likely did – which concluded that Corrie’s death was accidental, and rely instead on the most unhinged anti-Zionist accounts, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone other than the McGreal characterize the 2003 incident as an “indiscriminate killing and terror” in a broader IDF strategy meant to break “Palestinian civilians”.

Indeed, such supreme moral inversions – which advance the caricature of a hideously malevolent Jewish state intentionally murdering young innocents – can typically only be found, albeit often in much cruder form, in the  Arabic media, and on the fringes of extreme left commentary; such as in the grotesque depictions of Israel found in the cartoons of Carlos Latuff.

In suggesting a moral equivalence between an IDF anti-terror operation aimed at clearing ground to expose hiding places used by terrorists (along the border where, between 2000 and 2003, thousands of terrorist grenade attacks and hundreds of anti-tank missile attacks had already occurred) and Hamas suicide bombings in crowded public places with the sole intention of murdering Jews, McGreal is parroting the most obscene and intellectually unserious leftist anti-Zionist agitprop.

Of course, “intellectually unserious leftist anti-Zionist agitprop” – once exclusively within the domain of unapologetic antisemites – has become a banality, and something more akin to a political brand identity, at the Guardian.

International Solidarity Movement’s ‘Fauxtographic’ record of Rachel Corrie’s death

A guest post by AKUS

I was stunned to see the following picture in an article by Amira Hass in Ha’aretz. I had never seen such a clear image that purports to show Corrie about to be crushed by a bulldozer:

The caption reads:

Rachel Corrie opposite the bulldozer, 16 March, 2003. Photo: AP

But does it really show what happened?

A little digging on the internet turned up a blog post by “Carlos” at “Peace with Realism” from 2003: “The Death of Rachel Corrie” which investigated the photograph, and found yet another. Both were published by ISM, and are easily found by googling “Rachel Corrie” and looking for images.

At first sight, it seems obvious what happened – she stood near the bulldozer shouting at it to stop using a megaphone, and then was crushed by it. But was that really what these pictures show?

Well, Electronic Intifada ran with the pictures supplied to it by ISM and rather gave the game way. Under the left hand picture, it noted that the picture was taken “between 3:00-4:00PM”:

Picture taken between 3:00-4:00PM on 16 March 2003, Rafah, Occupied Gaza. A clearly marked Rachel Corrie, holding a megaphone, confronts the driver of one of two Israeli bulldozers in the area that were attempting to demolish a Palestinian homes. She was confronting the bulldozer in order to disrupt its work, and prevent it from threatening any homes. Photo by Joseph Smith.

But under the right hand picture, the time of 4:45 PM was given for the accident – the picture was obviously taken seconds after the accident:

Picture taken at 4:45PM on 16 March 2003, Rafah, Occupied Gaza. Other peace activists tend to Rachel after she was fatally injured by the driver of the Israeli bulldozer (in background).

Noting the discrepancy, “Carlos” then took a deeper look at the pictures (my emphasis):

These pictures have been shown to be a hoax. The “before” picture shows Rachel standing in front of the bulldozer with a megaphone, some distance away and foreshortened by perspective, making her appear to be in clear sight of the bulldozer. The presentation also makes it appear that this took place immediately before the incident. However, the photographer himself later admitted that no one with a camera had been present at the site just before Rachel’s accident, that the picture with the megaphone had actually been taken hours earlier, and that at the time of the accident Rachel was not in sight of the driver. An examination of the pictures themselves, noting, for example, the difference in the color of the sky, shows they could not have been taken close to the same point in time. In addition, the bulldozers shown in these supposed “before” and “after” pictures are not the same.

Indeed both CNN, which ran the two pictures, and the New York Times, which ran the first one, published the following corrections:

CNN, March 25, 2003:

Caption clarification: Photos by an International Solidarity Movement eyewitness show Rachel Corrie protesting earlier, and then later, after she was hit by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza on Sunday.

The New York Times, March 26, 2003:

A picture caption on March 17 with an article about an American protester who was crushed by an Israeli Army bulldozer in Gaza referred incorrectly to the bulldozer shown. It was one that the protester, Rachel Corrie, had earlier tried to stop from destroying a Palestinian home. It was not the one that killed her.

Nevertheless pro-Palestinian web sites, including the International Solidarity Movement’s own web site, continue to present the two pictures with incorrect and misleading labels.

Finally, according to “Carlos”, “A later report from ISM Media Coordinator Michael Shaik in Beit Sahour offered more details about the event”. In fact, Shaik made an admission that makes it clear why the bulldozer driver could not have seen Corrie, and why the first photograph has no direct connection to the accident that killed her:

Rachel was sitting in the path of the bulldozer as it advanced towards her.

Only when she realized she could not be seen, did she try to escape:

When the bulldozer refused to stop or turn aside she climbed up onto the mound of dirt and rubble being gathered in front of it wearing a fluorescent jacket to look directly at the driver who kept on advancing. The bulldozer continued to advance so that she was pulled under the pile of dirt and rubble.

To claim that the “bulldozer refused to stop or turn aside” is a gross distortion – how could he have seen someone sitting on the ground behind a growing pile of dirt and the huge blade of his bulldozer? Then when she realized her situation, instead of moving back or sideways, perhaps in a panic she advanced towards the moving bulldozer, something no sensible person would do, and was crushed under the dirt and rubble.

Moreover, if you look at the two bulldozers, the one visible at the scene of the accident appears to be much larger, with a much larger blade and a much smaller aperture for the driver to see through than the one photographed earlier. Both these differences would have made it harder for the driver to seen anyone in his path.

Corrie was callously used in life by ISM, and is callously being used in death by all those trying to make a case against Israel.

If the picture used by Ha’aretz, to its shame, is the one we start to see in articles about Corrie, it pays to remember that once again the death of this woman is being used, like the Al Durrah affair, as a typical piece of Pallywood fauxtography.

Put International Solidarity Movement on Trial for Rachel Corrie’s Death

This essay was originally published at The Jewish Press

 

International Solidarity Movement’s activists in Ni’lin, Feb. 5, 2012.

Today, an Israeli court rejected a lawsuit filed by the family of Rachel Corrie, the 23-year-old American who was killed by a military bulldozer nine years ago, ruling that the death was an accident for which Corrie was responsible and, further, that there was no proof the soldiers acted with intent to harm or criminal neglect.

In reports on the trial over the past few days, the media mostly ignored the role played by International Solidarity Movement (ISM) in the young woman’s tragic death.

For instance, in three reports by the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent about the trial, Harriet Sherwood, (herehere, and here), all Sherwood wrote about ISM were that they were pro-Palestinian activists involved in “direct action”, and that they were “accused by [the IDF] of illegal, irresponsible and dangerous” behaviour.

Sherwood, like much of the media, didn’t think it was relevant to provide her readers with even a short description of ISM’s reckless and extremely dangerous behavior – dangerous for both Israelis involved in anti-terror operations, as well as for the ISM volunteers, like Corrie, cynically exploited for “the cause”.

ISM was founded in 2001 by a group of young, extremist left Americans. According to the Terrorism Information Center, between 2001 and 2005, the years of the second intifada, ISM volunteers engaged in activities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and “did not merely help the Palestinian population, but intentionally hindered IDF anti-terror activities.”

Their activities included “serving as human shields for terrorist operatives wanted by the Israeli security forces”, and “provid[ing] Palestinian terrorist operatives…with financial, logistic and moral support, hindering the razing and sealing of houses of suicide bombers.”

Since the end of the Intifada ISM activists were among the founders of the pro-Hamas umbrella ‘Free Gaza Movement’, and consistently send volunteers to protest demonstrations at focal points of Palestinian-Israeli friction, such as in Bil’in.

While ISM describes itself as “committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using nonviolent, direct-action methods and principles”, Paul Larudee, the Northern California head of the ISM, has said that “We recognize that violence is necessary and it is permissible for oppressed and occupied people to use armed resistance and we recognize their right to do so.”

Similarly, in a 2002 article, ISM co-founders Adam Shapiro and Huwaida Arraf wrote, “The Palestinian resistance must take on a variety of characteristics, both non-violent and violent,” adding that “[i]n actuality, nonviolence is not enough…Yes, people will get killed and injured.”

Shapiro and Arraf lauded such deaths as “no less noble than carrying out a suicide operation. And we are certain that if these men were killed during such an action, they would be considered shaheed Allah.”

ISM activists and organizers have time and again justified terrorism and associated with terrorists.

In 2003 alone, for example, ISM activist Susan Barclay admitted in an interview that she worked with representatives of Hamas and Islamic Jidhad; terrorists originating from UK who had attacked the Mike’s Place bar in Tel Aviv, murdering three people, had, according to an Israeli report, ”forg[ed] links with foreign left-wing activists and members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM)”; and senior Islamic Jihad terrorist Shadi Sukiya was arrested while he was hiding in ISM’s Jenin office and being assisted by two ISM activists.

(See NGO Monitor’s page documenting ISM’s terrorism associations).

IT SHOULD NOT be surprising that the 2003 incident involving Corrie took place in the “Military Installations Area,” along the Egyptian border, at the Philadelphi Route, which was considered a hostile battlefield because of the large number of attacks carried out by terrorists.

Between 2000 and March 2003, the area was also notorious for being the primary smuggling route for terrorists bringing weaponry into Gaza and the West Bank from Egypt. Terrorist activities during this period included thousands of grenade attacks, 184 anti-tank missile attacks, 147 road-side explosives, and 41 mortar attacks.

Indeed, the IDF mission on the day in question, which ISM was trying to impede, was merely an effort to level terrain and clear debris near the border in order to remove cover for future terrorist attacks.

Several ISM protestors entered the closed military zone to intentionally interfere in this routine mission. The IDF attempted to remove them with shock grenades, tear gas and warning shots, but they refused to leave the site.

The dangerous conduct of ISM activists—who ignored IDF warnings, refused to leave the area, and purposely put themselves in harm’s way— were the main factors leading to the tragic result.

Corrie’s ISM colleague and handler, Joseph Smith eulogized Corrie, chillingly justifying the sacrifice of human life for the cause, stating:

“The spirit that she died for is worth a life. This idea of resistance, this spirit of resisting this brutal occupying force, is worth anything. And many, many, many Palestinians give their lives for it all the time. So the life of one international, I feel, is more than worth the spirit of resisting oppression.”

Smith’s words and ISM’s activities make it clear that ISM callously views such “sacrifices” as “progressive” acts of resistance which are worth the human cost. It is shameful that ISM will never face serious critical scrutiny for their recklessness, despite of their well-documented record of terror-abetting extremism, which ultimately took the life of Rachel Corrie.