Rachel Shabi has “fresh hope” that the Jewish state may cease to exist

Perhaps someone needs to remind Rachel Shabi, and ‘Comment is Free’ editors, that the Peel Commission has adjourned, the Jewish nation is a wonderful reality, and the state’s radical bi-national reconstitution will never, ever be countenanced by its citizens.

Shabi’s Oct. 23 piece, ‘The death of the Israel-Palestine two-state solution brings fresh hope‘, pronounces the two-state principle dead, a victim, she claims, of the impossibility of removing “half a million Jewish settlers and infrastructure from the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.”

However, this line of argument is absurd, as it implies that nothing other than the evacuation of 100% of Israelis from the territories would achieve a two-state solution.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s proposal in 2008 would have given the Palestinians an independent, contiguous state, with 94% of the West Bank (plus land swaps in pre-1967 Israel to make up for the 6% of the WB which would remain in Israel’s control), 100% of Gaza, and a capital in East Jerusalem. Tens of thousands of Jews would have been uprooted.

Yet, Olmert’s peace plan, the details of which have been confirmed by U.S. leaders active in the talks, were rejected by Mahmoud Abbas, who walked away from the deal - just as Yasser Arafat did in response to Ehud Barak’s offer of statehood in 2000.

Here’s a map representing the proposed deal.

As former U.S. Secretary of State Condi Rice wrote in her autobiography:

“Although Palestinian negotiators spoke publicly about compromise on refugees privately they spoke of the “right of return” as a matter of individual choice that would have to be extended to each of over seven million people and with Palestinians retaining the open-ended right to try to negotiate additional “returns” beyond any number initially agreed upon in a peace treaty.

Abbas was simply unprepared to accept any offer that did not allow for the “right of return.” [emphasis added]

The Palestinians’ trickery on what they were actually willing to accept concerning the “refugees” completely fooled the Guardian in their contextualization of the ‘Palestine Papers’ in 2011.

Further, their maximalist, unlimited demand for a so-called “right of return” (for Palestinians refugees from 1948 and millions of their descendants) by Palestinian leaders  is perhaps the greatest indication that their “two-state” support is merely a chimera – that Palestinian leadership have never reconciled themselves to the continued existence of a Jewish state.  

A “right of return” for “7 million Palestinians”, back to places in Israel where the overwhelming majority have actually never lived, necessarily negates Israel’s continued existence as a state for the Jewish people.  

In her CiF piece, Shabi writes:

“…a new generation of Palestinian activists, in part inspired by the Arab uprisings in the region, are bypassing territorial demands to focus on civil rights and freedoms.

Shared-space [binational] alternatives have grassroots momentum, but no leadership support. “

Of course, the term “grassroots momentum” is one of those intentionally blurry words meant, in this case, to avoid having to acknowledge that, the overwhelming majority of Jewish Israelis would fiercely reject a bi-national solution. (Per a recent poll by the Israel Democracy Institute, 86% of Israeli Jews reject such a plan.)

Those who advocate for a one-state solution are either parroting the narrative of Palestinian rejectionists, or are indifferent to the fact that any attempt to impose a one-state “solution” would be met by fierce Jewish resistance, inspired by the historical lessons Jews have painfully learned on the political necessity and ethical imperative of Jewish sovereignty.

Such Utopian dreams represent a recipe for endless war – and certainly nothing resembling peace. 

The Jewish state has been re-established in our historic homeland, and those wishing to undo 1948 should get over it.  

Their malign fantasies are not going to be realized.

Glenn Greenwald admits that “anti-Semitism plays a role in some hostility toward Israel”.

Glenn Greenwald

There are two things Glenn Greenwald and I have in common – which is two more than I realized only an hour ago.

He has the flu, according to his latest ‘Comment is Free’ post, and I have flu-like symptoms due to a recent ill-advised flu shot.

The other more substantive commonality pertains to one acknowledgement in his post – one of seven miscellaneous observations by the Guardian’s new U.S. blogger.

In the context of complaining about the alleged recent smearing of Matt Stoller (former Democratic staffer and MSNBC producer) as a racist, Greenwald pivoted to make a broader point:

“There are few things more reckless and disgusting than publicly smearing someone as a racist – easily one of the worst things you can say about someone in America, for very good reason – purely for partisan gain. That’s especially true when you are well aware that you have no basis for the accusation.

For years, neocons did the same thing with “anti-Semitism” charges. They seized on a real and serious problem – anti-Semitism – and converted it into an exploitative, opportunistic weapon to punish those who deviated from their political views, particularly on Israel. The worst part of that behavior – aside from ruining people’s reputations by casting them as bigots without any cause – is that it dilutes the power of that term and makes it no longer effective to use when it actually appears.

That is precisely what spouting knowingly baseless accusations of racism achieves. Obviously, racism plays a substantial role in motivating some of the hostility toward the first African-American president, just as anti-Semitism plays a role in some hostility toward Israel. That’s precisely why it’s so vital to avoid casually exploiting those terms for gross partisan opportunism: because people will stop taking the terms seriously when they genuinely arise.

Few things are lowlier than tossing around those accusations purely to discredit someone for partisan gain. It happens often, but this case is particularly egregious given the accuser’s admissions in the comment section combined with the total lack of retraction or correction by that blog.

While I was shocked to read Greenwald acknowledge that “anti-Semitism plays a role in some hostility toward Israel”, I gather from his additional complaint about those who “exploit” the term “anti-Semitism” to “discredit” people that he may have been stung by criticism about his own record of advancing Judeophobic narratives concerning ‘dual loyalty’ and the danger of ‘Jewish power’.

I’ll leave you with a brief selection of quotes by Greenwald and you can judge for yourself if he has been unfairly smeared as a commentator who subscribes to anti-Semitic calumnies. (These quotes were documented in a report I wrote about antisemitism on progressive blogs for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs in 2010.)

  • “So absolute has the Israel-centric stranglehold on American policy been that the US Government has made it illegal to broadcast Hezbollah television stations.”
  • “Not even our Constitution’s First Amendment has been a match for the endless exploitation of American policy, law and resources [by the Israel lobby] to target and punish Israel’s enemies.”
  • “The real goal [of the Israel lobby], as always, was to ensure that there is no debate over America’s indescribably self-destructive, blind support for Israeli actions. [Charles] Freeman’s critics may have scored a short-term victory in that regard, but the more obvious it becomes what is really driving these scandals, the more difficult it will be to maintain this suffocating control over American debates and American policy.”
  • “The point is that the power the [Israel lobby] exercises [is] harmful in the extreme. They use it to squelch debate, destroy the careers and reputations of those who deviate from their orthodoxies, and compel both political parties to maintain strict adherence to an agenda that is held by a minority of Americans; that is principally concerned with the interests of a foreign country; and that results in serious cost and harm to the United States. In doing so, they insure not only that our policies towards Israel remain firmly in place no matter the outcome of our elections, but also that those policies remain beyond the realm of what can be questioned or debated by those who want to have a political future.”
  • “Anyone who has argued that a desire to protect Israeli interests plays too large of a role in our foreign policy has been subjected to some of the most vicious and relentless smears. Ask Juan Cole about that, or John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt. Those tactics have, as intended, prevented a substantive debate on this question, as most people have feared even approaching the topic.”
  • “If you don’t…pledge your loyalty to our policies toward Israel and to Israel, what will happen to you is what just happened to Charles Freeman. You’ll be demonized and have your career ended.”
  • “It is simply true that large and extremely influential Jewish donor groups are the ones agitating for a US war against Iran, and that is the case because those groups are devoted to promoting Israel’s interests.”
  • “The dominant narrative among neocons and the media is that, deep down in his heart, [Obama] may be insufficiently devoted to Israel to be president of the United States. Has there ever been another country to which American politicians were required to pledge their uncritical, absolute loyalty the way they are, now, with Israel?”
  • “[Charles] Freeman is being dragged through the mud by the standard cast of accusatory Israel-centric neocons (Marty Peretz, Jon Chait, Jeffrey Goldberg, Commentary, The Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb, etc. etc., etc.).”

 Glenn, the floor is yours. 

What the Guardian won’t report: Fatah FB page posts pic of mother placing suicide belt on her child

This is just grotesque.

Per Palestinian Media Watch:

The Facebook page for Fatah in Lebanon has posted this picture of a mother dressing her young son with a suicide belt. 

This picture was posted on the Fatah Facebook page together with an imaginary conversation between the son who is being sent to his death and the mother encouraging it. “Why me and not you?” the child innocently asks his mother, who answers that she will continue to have more children “for the sake of Palestine”:

Here’s PMW’s translation of the Arabic next to the photo:

“My mother dressed me in a strange belt (i.e., a suicide belt).

I asked her: ‘What is this, mother?’

She said: ‘I will put it on you and you will go to your death!’

I said to her: ‘Mother, what have I done that you want me to die?’

She shed a tear that hurt my heart and said: ‘The homeland needs you, son. Go and blow up the sons of Zion.’

I said to her: ‘Why me and not you?’

She said: ‘I will stay in order to give birth to more children for the sake of Palestine.’

I kissed her hand and said to her: ‘Keep it up, mother, for you and for Palestine I will kill the impure and the damned.’”

PMW notes that the Facebook page states that it is “the official page of Fatah’s Information and Culture Commission in Lebanon,” and is linked to from the official site of the Fatah Information and Culture Commission (http://www.fatehmedia.ps).

Our series of posts titled ‘What the Guardian won’t report’ is inspired by our belief that what the Guardian doesn’t report is often as damaging to the public’s understanding of Israel and Israelis as what they do report.  

You simply can’t truly understand the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict without basic facts about the injurious impact of Palestinian incitement, terror and antisemitism.


Seumas Milne, antisemitism and “the usual internet suspects”.

An apparatchik named Seumas Milne, who worked for the decidedly pro-Stalinist magazine called Straight Left, and who’s currently serving as the Guardian’s Associate Editor, has written a book.

I don’t intend on reading it because, well, life is short, my personal list of ‘books to read’ grows larger by the day and I never really did fancy the political musings of unrepentant communists – even during my turbulent college years when I was most receptive to the mindless clichés of the delusional left.

So, I am indebted to  for having penned a Guardian review of the book, ‘The Revenge of History’, a collection of Milne’s essays in the Guardian over the last 10 years.

Relevant to those who follow this blog, Hatherley’s literary criticism takes a brief detour to lash out at those believed to be Milne’s critics.

He writes:

“Although slandered by the usual internet suspects as an “antisemite”, he’s been one of the few to expose this polite, Council of Europe-sanctioned form of Holocaust revisionism.” [emphasis added]

Intrigued by the suggestion that Milne – who has praised the anti-imperialist “resistance movements” in Kabul, Baghdad, and Gaza City, and parroted the lie of the Jenin “massacre” – may have been a closet philo-Semite all along, I did a bit of research in an attempt to learn more about the heroic defender of Holocaust memory.

The only thing even remotely related to Hatherley’s characterization I could find was an essay at ‘Comment is Free’ by Milne in 2009 titled This rewriting of history is spreading Europe’s poison‘.  

Writes Milne:

“…across eastern Europe, the Baltic republics and the Ukraine, the drive to rewrite history is being used to relativise Nazi crimes and rehabilitate collaborators. At the official level, it has focused on a campaign to turn August 23 – the anniversary of the non-aggression pact – into a day of commemoration for the victims of communism and nazism.

In July that was backed by the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe, following a similar vote in the European parliament and a declaration signed by Vaclav Havel and others branding “communism and nazism as a common legacy” of Europe that should be jointly commemorated because of “substantial similarities”.

That east Europeans should want to remember the deportations and killings of “class enemies” by the Soviet Union during and after the war is entirely understandable. So is their pressure on Russia to account, say, for the killing of Polish officers at Katyn – even if Soviet and Russian acknowledgment of Stalin’s crimes already goes far beyond, for example, any such apologies by Britain or France for the crimes of colonialism.

But the pretence that Soviet repression reached anything like the scale or depths of Nazi savagery – or that the postwar “enslavement” of eastern Europe can be equated with wartime Nazi genocide – is a mendacity that tips towards Holocaust denial.”

To those still under the illusion that Soviet repression wasn’t indeed as murderous as Nazism, I’d recommend the book “The Black Book of Communism” – a thorough account of the mass murder committed in every Communist country — the Soviet Union, the East European countries, China, Vietnam, North Korea, Cambodia, Laos, Cuba, Mongolia – which quantifies the death toll of Marx’s little theory at no less than 100 million.

More importantly, while reasonable people can debate the relative crimes of the Soviet Union and German Nazism, it certainly isn’t antisemitic, nor an offense to Holocaust memory, to unapologetically condemn the atrocities of Josef Stalin – whose purges, forced collectivization, starvation, and ethnic cleansing of ‘counter-revolutionaries’ arguably extinguished 20 million souls.

Milne wasn’t condemning Holocaust revisionism. He was merely defending Stalinist revisionism.

Those of us among “the usual internet suspects” need not offer an ounce of gratitude to those who cynically champion the cause of dead Jews but seemingly remain indifferent to the aspirations of living Jews.

Six more Palestinian ‘building inspectors’. Again, no context.

Sept. 10 edition of the Guardian’s ‘Picture Desk Live: the best news pictures of the day’ included the following photo of six Palestinians “inspecting” a destroyed building in Gaza:

Here’s the Guardian’s caption:

Palestinians inspect the damage to a building after an Israeli air strike in Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. Photograph: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

The caption failed to mention the attack against Israel which precipitated the IDF operation – a grad rocket launched from Gaza that morning which destroyed a house in Netivot and injured several Israelis – nor that the building in Nuseirat was reportedly a weapons manufacturing facility.

Today’s edition of the Guardian’s ‘Picture Desk Live’, Oct. 29, once again featured the work of six Palestinian ‘building inspectors’.

Here’s the caption:

Palestinians inspect the damage to a building following an Israeli attack in al-Bureij, in the centre of the Gaza Strip. Photograph: Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images

Guardian readers would be forgiven for not knowing that the IDF operation was a response to several grad rockets which were fired into southern Israel by Popular Resistance Committee terrorists on Oct. 28.

This latest Palestinian attack followed a barrage of more than 70 rockets fired into Israel by Hamas and Popular Resistance Committees on Oct. 24 and 25 which seriously damaged homes and critically wounded two foreign workers in the Eshkol Region.  

Over 150 rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza in October alone, and more than 610 so far in 2012.

Defamation: Combating the assault on the Jewish state’s legitimacy at the Guardian

H/T Chas

“Sometimes the left distinguishes between vulnerable European Jews who have been persecuted and latter-day “Prussians” in Israel. Yet it is often forgotten that a majority of Israelis just happen to be Jews, who fear therefore that what begins with the delegitimization of the state will end with the delegitimization of the people.” – Colin Shindler

Benjamin Pogrund, a former South African journalist, and anti-Apartheid activist, who made Aliyah in 1997 and founded Yakar’s Centre for Social Concern, published a piece at ‘Comment is Free’ on Oct. 25 titled ‘Israel has moved to the right, but is not an apartheid state‘.  

Pogrund refuted the recent poll on Israeli views of Arabs, and the profound distortion of the poll results, which smeared Israel with the charge of apartheid, by Gideon Levy of Ha’aretz.

Interestingly, Pogrund was forced to contend not merely with one misrepresentation, but two, as CiF editors noted the following below the essay:

“The original headline of this article, “Israel is hostile towards Arabs, but it is not an apartheid state”, was changed at 17:46 on 26 October 2012 at the request of the author.”

Anyone reading Pogrund’s piece would understand that he not only responded to the apartheid charge but, in fact, refuted those claiming that the poll demonstrated Israel’s hostility towards its Arab citizens.

One of the more thoughtful reader comments about the broader issue of the danger posed by slander against the Jewish state, below the line of Pogrund’s CiF piece, was posted by someone using the moniker MitaKhondria, who wrote the following:

“Pejorative terms used freely against Jews in the last century led to people thinking that the Jews were a ripe target which could be injured with impunity, and attempted to wipe them out in an industrial murder operation the very scope of which was breath-taking.

Similar loose talk about a Jewish state in this century and blind insistence on its uniquely evil nature despite the obvious dangers (and the absurdity of applying these terms to this one state when there are plenty with far worse records) is irresponsible in the extreme.  So when people ask what you can say about Israel without being antisemitic I would ask them, whatever they say, to name at least one other current state about which they can say the same thing. Comparisons with Apartheid South Africa and Nazi Germany are of course ruled out as indications of a desire to do damage.

For instance, there were gasps of disbelief from Westerners recently that Israel had no civil marriage laws.  They were not aware that this is the rule not the exception in the Middle East.  It was therefore not antisemitic when put into the correct perspective.”

The Hebrew term for speaking badly of others (Slander, spreading malicious, false information, etc.) is called lashon hara, literally “evil language.”

Such evil speech, when it involves criticism of Israel at the Guardian, often involves not outright lies – though they are not uncommon – but the dynamic of selectively reporting information void of historical or political context, or any sense of moral proportion.

Such context is vital in providing the nuance and complexity necessary to avoid misleading, lazy characterizations which render Israeli Jews as mere stereotypes, caricatures, or crude political abstractions.      

Interestingly, according to Jewish tradition, while the person engaging in such slander is of course morally culpable, those who listen and fail to refute false, misleading and defamatory words are considered more culpable, because the person had the power to stop the lie and didn’t, thus completing the transgression.

All that is required of a philo-Semites – indeed of anti-racists more broadly – is the determination to not allow defamations of the Jewish people to go unchallenged.

‘What begins with the delegitimization of the state will end with the delegitimization of the people.’

Our mission at CiF Watch – leveraging nothing more than the weight of our arguments and the power of our speech – is to refute false and misleading information about Israel and the Jewish people.

We also hope to inspire others to do the same.

You don’t need to know Hebrew to write Israeli history backwards at the Guardian

A guest post by AKUS

As you know, Hebrew is written from right to left, not left to right. But the mere fact that the letters are arranged in the opposite direction should not imply that the logic is.

Apparently, however, when writing to the Guardian, it helps to transcribe the letters from left to right, but have the logic go backwards.

In a recent letter to the Guardian, arguing for a two-state Israeli-Palestinian solution against the one-state solution proposed in an article by   Rachel Shabi declaring the “Two-State Solution  Dead”, Dr. John Jennings wrote (my emphasis added):

“The opening sentence in Rachel Shabi’s article (The death of the two-state solution gives fresh hope, 24 October) underlines its central weakness. We are told: “We could argue who killed it but what’s the point.” But exaggeration aside, this is precisely what we should do, since it immediately highlights the principal cause: A COMPLETE ABSENCE of a sustainable high-powered PALESTINIAN resistance movement on the ground for over TWO DECADES and counting.

The literature on resistance in asymmetric conflicts over the last 100 years shows that, for the weaker protagonist, up to 50% of such conflicts are successful, not so much in the classical Castro sense, but more with respect to a meaningful and substantive reconfiguration of the power between the parties. Then and only then can negotiations become “realistic”, as the stronger party, succumbing to the cost factor, inevitably becomes attuned to the reality of a robust protagonist.

A classical paradigm is the Vietnam war, but PALESTINIAN RESISTANCE, especially in the late 1980s, is even more pertinent, since it effectively drove RABIN to the negotiating table, AS HE HIMSELF ADMITTED. The great pity was that Arafat threw away all the advantages of this initial success by disbanding the very resistance that prompted the Palestinian breakthrough in the first place.

In my view, a comprehensive, robust, nonviolent core resistance on the ground in Palestine, coupled with an international campaign akin to the boycott movement, in conjunction with an equally robust negotiating strategy will lead to an independent Palestinian state.”

Now, how about this version?

“We could argue who killed it but what’s the point.” But exaggeration aside, this is precisely what we should do, since it immediately highlights the principal cause: THE EMERGENCE OF A high-powered JEWISH/ZIONIST/ISRAELI resistance movement on the ground for over SIX DECADES and counting that led to an Independent Israeli state that could not be coerced into accepting an Arab fiat creating a Palestinian state under conditions unacceptable to Israel.

The literature on resistance in asymmetric conflicts over the last 100 years shows that, THE VASTLY OUTNUMBERED JEWISH STATE, was the best example of how to create a meaningful and substantive reconfiguration of the power between the parties.

A classical paradigm is NOT the Vietnam war, waged by the Vietnamese against foreign powers. ISRAELI FORTITUDE, especially in the late 1980s, is even more pertinent, since it effectively drove EGYPT AND JORDAN to the negotiating table, as THEY THEMSELVES admitted.

Any impartial reading of the last 64 years, since the State of Israel was founded, and also the 30 -40 years before that, must show that Israelis pulled off a textbook example of using self-reliance, economic development, willingness to sacrifice and flexibility in negotiations to achieve goals the Palestinians have never been able  to achieve. If one seeks a classic example of “asymmetric resistance” in the face of a vastly superior enemy, it is Israel’s ability to resist conquest by its Arab enemies.

Jennings’ call for the Palestinians to emulate the Vietnamese in order to create a Palestinian state is ludicrous and a complete misreading of the two conflicts. There is not the slightest resemblance to the Vietnam situation. In Vietnam, an existing nation beat off the armies of foreign powers led by the USA that came from thousands of miles away for ideological reasons (anti-Communism) to support a corrupt regime that had taken over half the country.  Obviously, Israel in this scenario is not in any sense a remote country under no threat from its opponent  like the USA and its allies in Vietnam, and certainly is not trying to support the corrupt and divided Palestinian regime. Moreover, Israel is not going to go away when the going gets tough.

Rather than having a “robust negotiating strategy” the Palestinians have either walked away from negotiations or refused to negotiate with a stronger power, Israel.  When Jennings proposes “a comprehensive, robust, nonviolent core resistance on the ground” he is dreaming. The only person to seriously attempt to implement this has been Salam Fayyad. He is regarded almost if not in fact as a traitor to “the cause”, which is really the destruction of Israel, not the creation of Palestinian State on the West Bank (and possibly in Gaza). The concept of “resistance”, in the Palestinian context, means the use of terror tactics against Israeli civilians, not non-violence.

Furthermore, Jennings’ proposal for a sort of “asymmetric” jiu-jitsu, i.e. an “international campaign akin to the boycott movement,” has been tried and like the BDS cult, has failed. The Palestinians can go to the UN as often as they like, but it is not the UN they must negotiate with, and the UN will not force Israel to withdraw from the West Bank in its entirety which is the only thing that might satisfy the Palestinians.

The Palestinians are not the Vietnamese or Cubans. They have not been a “robust opponent” able to “drive”  Israel to the negotiating table. On the contrary, Israel has begged the obdurate Palestinians to negotiate – which means accepting some compromises for both sides – and they have refused. One could argue, I suppose, that Israel has not been able to “drive” the Palestinians to the negotiating table – is this a measure of Palestinian power and success? It certainly does not seem to be.

The problem the Palestinians have is not how to “drive” Israel to the negotiating table. The most “unrealistic” aspect of the Palestinians’ aspirations for a Palestinian state (other than their desire to take over Israel) is that they have not learned how to say “yes” when offered 95% of the West Bank. But perhaps the problem is that what lies behind the “one-state” concept is that it is not even 100% of the West Bank that would satisfy them – it is 100% of Israel that they dream of taking.

 Israel is not America, the Palestinians are not a good example of a resistance or national liberation movement but Israel is, and they have no need of a “robust resistance”. If it is an “independent state” they want, as Jennings seems to believe, they can have 95% of what they want tomorrow if they can only bring themselves to take it.

What is becoming increasing apparent, hence the futile calls for the impossible “one-state solution”, is that the Palestinians are incapable of creating the conditions under which they will achieve a Palestinian state on the West Bank.  The conclusion seems to be that this is not what they want even if Jennings  and others think it is what they should want.

On the other hand, despite Shabi, since the “one state solution” requires Israelis to agree to it, they are unlikely to get that either. If one accepts that their leaders understand that, and are unwilling to negotiate with Israel, one can only assume that they do not, in fact, want an independent state. The true “one-state” for the West Bankers is federation with Jordan – a logical idea which is becoming more openly discussed by West Bank intellectuals and Jordanian leaders. The West Bank leadership should say so, and open negotiations with Jordan, with Israel entering the final status negotiations under the terms of the existing peace agreement with Jordan once those two parties have formulated their proposals.

As long as you can write the logic backwards, reinvent history, draw false analogies and make improbable claims about how to create a Palestinian state other than simply saying “yes” it appears that, like Dr. Jennings, you too can have a letter published in the Guardian.

Ha’aretz’s Apartheid Campaign Against Israel

Cross posted by Yishai Goldflam at CAMERA  (This is a translated version of the original which appeared at CAMERA’s Hebrew site, Presspectiva.)

Amidst its financial hardships and declining Israeli readership, the Israeli daily, Ha’aretz, has upped its anti-Israel advocacy, engaging in a campaign to promote the apartheid canard about Israel. First, Akiva Eldar falsely alleged that the Israeli government had acknowledged Jews as the minority population residing between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, a claim he was forced to correct. Then Gideon Levy wrote an article bearing the sinister headline, “Survey: Most Israeli Jews support apartheid regime in Israel.”

The online versions in English and Hebrew were subsequently changed slightly. And the print edition’s English headline was “Survey: Most Israeli Jews advocate discrimination against Arabs.”  This story was followed the next day by an article that attempted to solidify as fact supposed Jewish support for an apartheid regime, with the headline, “Arab MKs: Israeli Jews’ support of apartheid is not surprising.”

Levy’s article claimed that according to a recent survey the majority of Israelis not only support apartheid, but also hold racist views towards Israeli Arabs and believe that apartheid already exists today in Israel. Predictably, the story spread like wildfire and was quoted in major media outlets such as London’s The Guardian and The Independent, Toronto’s Globe and Mail, Agence-France Presse, and dozens of other sites, blogs and forums.

Pro- and anti-Israel activists have spent the past two days debating the reliability of the survey, its wording and meaning, as well as the accuracy of Gideon Levy’s article publicizing the poll. But most of those involved in the debate did not see the complete, original survey because it was not published anywhere, including in Levy’s article. One notable exception was this in-depth analysis by Avi Mayer which relied upon the original poll. CAMERA/Presspectiva obtained a copy of the original survey, and compared it to Levy’s article and Ha’aretz’s headline to see whether or not they accurately reflected the survey.

Unsurprisingly, Levy’s article was full of omissions and distortions. He apparently ignored the data that did not suit him and emphasized those that were in accord with his own well-known anti-Israel world view. At times, he completely reversed the survey’s findings. The sensational headline represents, at best, Levy’s interpretation of the survey and does not represent objective, factual reporting.

It also appears that the survey itself has its own share of problems – including the lack of clarity and hypothetical nature of the questions, no definition of terms that were used, limited answer choices, no correction for confounding factors, and general lack of explanation about what exactly was meant by the questions.

Yet even on the assumption that the survey was a valid one that was appropriately conducted, the results neither justify Ha’aretz’s bombastic headlines, which seem to be part of a campaign to damage and delegitimize the Jewish state, nor the article itself that cherry-picks or otherwise misrepresents the results in order to reach the predetermined conclusion of the headline.

Levy Distorts

Levy’s striking misrepresentations included the following:

A sweeping 74 percent majority is in favor of separate roads for Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. A quarter – 24 percent – believe separate roads are “a good situation” and 50 percent believe they are “a necessary situation.”

Levy conveniently omitted the original question and answers from the survey. They were:

17. In the territories, there are some roads where travel is permitted only to Israelis and others where travel is permitted only to Palestinians. Which of the following opinions are closest to your own: A. It is a good situation. B. It is not a good situation, but what can you do? C. It is not a good situation and it needs to be stopped.

24% – it is a good situation.

50% – it is not a good situation, but there is nothing that can be done.

17% – it is not a good situation and it needs to be stopped

If the answers are divided according to those who see it as “good” and those who see it as “not good,” then 67% see it as a bad situation. But Levy did not bother to inform reader that the 50% of those who saw separate roads as “necessary” saw it as an undesirable situation.

When a “minority” becomes a “majority”

Levy devoted much of his fiery wrath to the alleged racism of Israeli Jews toward Israeli Arabs, but here too he distorted the results in order to make his case. Already in the third sentence of the article, he wrote:

A majority of Israeli Jews also explicitly favors discrimination against the state’s Arab citizens…

Levy misled his readers. There are five questions in the survey relating to discrimination against Arabs. Below are the questions and results:

4. In your opinion, is it desirable or undesirable for Jews to receive priority over Arabs in government hiring? a
59% – desirable; 34% undesirable
5. In your opinion, is it desirable to enact a law that prevents Israeli Arabs from voting in the Knesset?
33% – desirable; 59% undesirable
7. Do you agree or disagree with the argument that the state needs to care more for its Jewish citizens than its Arab citizens?
49% – agree; 49% – disagree
8. Would it bother you if in your place of abode, for example in your apartment building, an Arab family also lived there?
42% – it would bother me; 53% – it would not bother me
9. Would it bother you if in one of your children’s classrooms at school, there were also Arab children?
42% – it would bother me; 49% – it would not bother me

Does the overall picture obtained from these results support Levy’s characterization of most Israeli Jews favoring discrimination against Israeli-Arabs? On the contrary. Most people reading these results would perceive just the opposite, that a majority of Israelis do not support discrimination against Arabs.

Moreover, there are confounding factors here that skew the numbers, making the majority a smaller one than might be expected.  For example, the highest percentages of negative answers to the questions about Arab children sharing a class room with their children and Arab families living in the same apartment building came from the group that self-identified as ultra-Orthodox Jews. This community tends to insulate their families from the outside world and would be expected to just as readily answer that they would not want their children sharing a classroom with secular Jews, or that they would want all their neighbors to share their same values and strictures. This artificially confounds the data. Israeli society is certainly not perfect, but it is a far cry from Levy’s misrepresentation that most Israeli Jews openly and explicitly favor discrimination against Arabs.

Levy’s misrepresentation was even worse in the commentary accompanying the main article, where he wrote: 

Most Israelis do not want Arab voters for the Knesset, nor Arab neighbors at home, nor Arab students near the bookcases of Jewish texts in Jewish schools that teach Jewish heritage. And our camp will be pure, as pure of Arabs as possible and perhaps even more.

What is amazing about the above paragraph is that Levy chose precisely the three examples that demonstrate the opposite of the scenario he describes. Unfortunately, readers horrified at the “findings” described by Levy do not possess the tools to see that the author was deceiving them, because the results of the survey were not included.

The issue of Levy’s selective reporting is evident throughout the article, in which he introduced the “negative” data without mentioning the “positive” data.

For example, when he wrote that “a third of the respondents support a law that would prevent Israeli Arabs from voting for the Knesset, ” he did not bother to mention that 59% oppose such a law.

Similarly, when Levy wrote that “36 percent support transferring some of the Arab towns from Israel to the PA, in exchange for keeping some of the West Bank settlements,” he did not bother to note that even more– 48% – oppose it. And when he wrote that “42 percent don’t want to live in the same building with Arabs and 42 percent don’t want their children in the same class with Arab children,” he did not bother to note that even more – 53% and 49% respectively – would not mind.

The headline in Ha’aretz’s print edition trumpeted that “Most Israeli Jews advocate discrimination against Arabs” – a conclusion clearly not borne out by the results of the survey. But this was evidently of no concern to editors who opted for a sensational headline that presented Israel in the worst possible light, no matter how false it was.

Support for Apartheid?

The subject of apartheid – the focus of Ha’aretz’s headline and on which Levy places his primary emphasis, as well as the charge that was disseminated around the world – takes up just 3 out of the 17 questions in the survey and is divided into two separate allegations by Levy:

a) the majority of Israelis support an apartheid regime; and

b) most Israelis think that Israel is already an apartheid state

Levy shares an honest point acknowledged by the pollsters that provides a key to understanding the problematic nature of the above allegations:

The survey conductors say perhaps the term “apartheid” was not clear enough to some interviewees.

Indeed, in the three questions dealing with the concept of apartheid, there is no definition or explanation of what is meant by the term “apartheid.” This raises the question of how the pollsters concluded, on the one hand, that the respondents “support apartheid” even while admitting that the term may not have been clear to the respondents. This logical failure would have raised a red flag to responsible journalists. That it did not give Levy reason to pause is testament to his lack of journalistic ethics.

Levy began the article by stating:

Most of the Jewish public in Israel supports the establishment of an apartheid regime in Israel if it formally annexes the West Bank.

It is an emphatic conclusion, but not what was asked in the survey. The only question addressing annexation of the territories was Question 16:

16. If Israel annexes the territories of Judea and Samaria, in your opinion, is it necessary to give 2.5 million Palestinians the right to vote in the Knesset?

While 69% of respondents answered no, the survey’s question addressed a hypothetical scenario that had no bearing on the current situation. Moreover, there were more interviewees who responded that they oppose annexation than those who responded that they support it (48% oppose, 38% support). In other words, almost half the respondents were forced to choose an answer about a hypothetical scenario that they explicitly oppose. Yet Ha’aretz’s online edition turned this finding into a headline without noting that it only described a hypothetical scenario that was already widely rejected by respondents. The online headline was subsequently changed to include the word “would” presumably to account for the hypothetical nature of the result: “Survey: Most Israeli Jews would support apartheid regime in Israel” but the damage wrought by the original headline had already been done, demonstrating the success of Ha’aretz’s apparent campaign to portray Israeli Jews as racists who support apartheid.

What about the claim that the majority of Israelis believe that an apartheid regime already exists in the country? Levy wrote:

Although the territories have not been annexed, most of the Jewish public (58 percent ) already believes Israel practices apartheid against Arabs.

This is what the survey says:

11. Which of the following opinions is closest to yours? A. There is no apartheid at all in Israel. B. There is apartheid in some areas. C. There is apartheid in many areas.

31% – There is no apartheid at all in Israel.

39% – There is apartheid in some areas.

19% – There is apartheid in many areas.

Beyond Levy’s ignoring of the survey’s nuance, with his blanket assertion that Israel “practices apartheid against Arabs,” are the problems inherent in the survey question itself – which Levy similarly ignores. What is “apartheid in some areas” or “apartheid in many areas”? The term “apartheid,” contrary to its superficial use in the survey, and contrary to the concept of “discrimination” has a very clear and precise meaning: According to the 2002 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, it refers to “an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.” (See more at “Israeli Apartheid Week“)

There is no such thing as “some” apartheid. There is either apartheid or no apartheid. Apartheid is not simply discrimination – the sort that exists in almost every country around the world including Israel, which is precisely why the term was created specifically to describe South Africa’s regime.

Anyone who understands the meaning of the word “apartheid” cannot reliably answer such an illogical question that seeks to reveal whether Israel practices apartheid “in some areas” or “in many areas.” Of even greater concern is the impact of Levy’s assertion “that 58% of Israeli citizens support apartheid” on those readers in London, New York, or Berlin who actually know what real apartheid is.

Despite the fact, that by any parameter, there is no connection between any Israeli policy and the South African apartheid regime, international activists are currently attempting to brand Israel with this smear in order to convince good and caring people that Israel is a second South Africa and should be treated as such – with boycott, divestment and sanctions. The Ha’aretz articles of the last few days indicate that the Israeli paper, too, seeks to demonize Israel as apartheid.

The fact that the survey question did not define “apartheid” or explain to respondents the difference between “apartheid” and “discrimination,” and the fact that the pollsters admitted that the term was not clear to all respondents suggests that respondents took the term “apartheid” to mean “discrimination” and understood it as simply a synonym for the latter. Moreover, the absurd response options of apartheid in “some” areas or in “many” areas also would suggest that the poll writers, intentionally or not, misled respondents into thinking that “apartheid” is interchangeable with “discrimination.” This is a plausible interpretation of the data that Levy chose to ignore.

It is difficult to overestimate the damage done to Israel by Ha’aretz’s sensational headlines and reporting. Instead of engaging in serious and balanced social criticism based on the findings of the survey, Ha’aretz chose instead to export Gideon Levy’s hysteria and obsession in the form of distorted headlines and an inaccurate story.

Ha’aretz’s campaign is transparent. Last week the paper falsely reported that the Israeli government admits to apartheid, this week it wrongly reported that the Israelis themselves admit to apartheid. Foreign journalists, ambassadors, diplomats, and policymakers around the world should take note. While Ha’aretz might have been perceived as a serious and reliable inside source of news about Israel, it is becoming increasingly clear that it nothing more than a tool for anti-Israel activists.

Ben White dreams that, by the “bloodshed and sweat of martyrs”, Palestine will be free!

H/T Chas and Harvey

Here is ‘Comment is Free’ contributor Ben White on TwitLonger – a service that lets you post messages that need more than 140 characters and send them to Twitter.

Click to Enlarge


It’s nice to see an evidently more mature White acknowledge that, in his post-Zionist utopia, “people will still fight against exploitation of many kinds”, though, at least “while breathing freedom!”  

However, the exception to the masses of people “fighting against exploitation… while breathing freedom” will be, of course, those Israeli civilians who are no longer breathing due to the “bloodshed”, “sweat” (and shrapnel) “of martyrs”. 


Postcard from Israel – Sussita

Sussita – or Antiochia-Hippos, to call it by its Greek name – sits on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, towering 350 meters above Kibbutz Ein Gev. Founded around 200 BCE, during Roman times Sussita was one of the Decapolis – the ten cities.

The city was predominantly Christian from the fourth century until its destruction in the massive earthquake of January 749, after which it was never resettled. It boasts many features, including impressive fortifications, several churches and pagan temples, a commercial area, bath houses, a beautiful odeon overlooking the lake and a port on the lake shore below.

In 1951, an IDF outpost was established on the mountain which was until 1967 Israel’s easternmost point, merging with the Golan Heights. 

Sussita is still being excavated by Haifa University and, if you happen to be looking for ideas for a summer holiday with a difference, it is possible to apply to join the 2013 season already. 

Guardian’s Julian Borger responds to CiF Watch, acknowledges error about genocide convention

Yesterday, I pointed out an error by the Guardian’s diplomatic editor Julian Borger, in a post he published on the recent U.S. presidential debate titled Fact-checking the final presidential debate’, Oct. 23.

Among the statements by the candidates checked for accuracy was the following claim by Romney, which Borger claimed was not correct.

I noted in my post that, contrary to what Borger wrote about “incitement to Genocide”, Article III of the ‘Convention on Genocide‘, adopted by United Nations General Assembly in 1948, does in fact include, as a punishable crime, “Direct and public incitement to commit genocide“.

Shortly after our post, we Tweeted Borger, alerting him to the error.

This morning, we received this reply.

While we’ll monitor the post to make sure it’s indeed corrected by Guardian editors, Mr. Borger should be commended for responding promptly, and positively, to our post and Tweet alerting him about the mistake.

UPDATE: Borger’s piece has been corrected, and the error officially acknowledged.

Guardian reviews of ‘Homeland’ reveal failure to understand antisemitic motives of extremists

The U.S. drama ‘Homeland’, based on the Israeli series Hatufim, was the subject of a column by Peter Beaumont on Oct. 13.  The series stars Claire Danes as a CIA officer who believes that a U.S. Marine held captive by Al-Qaeda as a POW was turned by the enemy and now threatens the U.S.

Though the show has received much critical acclaim, Beaumont (foreign affairs editor of the Observer, sister publication of the Guardian) published a piece, ‘Homeland is brilliant drama but does it present a crude image of Muslims, expressing a dissenting view.

Beaumont found the show’s depictions of Muslims “crude, childish, offensive” and “Islamophobic” which he blamed in part on the fact that the show was “rooted in its genesis as an Israeli drama, where the view of the surrounding neighborhood is more paranoid and defensive.”

Similarly, the Guardian’s Middle East editor, Ian Black, was also offended by the show. In ‘Homeland: does it give an accurate picture of Middle East politics?‘, Oct. 25, Black sums up his concerns, thus:

“Homeland purports to portray a nuanced version of the “war on terror” but the story is still told through a national security prism and (as Peter Beaumont pointed out recently in the Observer) with more than a touch of Islamophobia — from Brody’s badly pronounced “Allahu Akbar” while praying secretly in his garage, to the portrayal of all the Muslim characters as devious and cruel.

Strikingly, the cast has not (yet) included any Palestinians – important players in the contemporary Middle East. Like it or not their grievances are highly relevant to Arab/Muslim hostility to Israel and its US protectors. You don’t have to be Abu Nazir to observe that neither are simply the passive victims of evil and motiveless terrorists.”

In Beaumont’s narrative, Israelis possess a large degree of paranoia about Muslims, irrational hostility which arguably informs and influences the Islamophobia present in the American show.  And, for Black, the show’s failure stems from the absence of context which would instruct the viewer that Arab/Muslim violence can be explained, in large part, by legitimate Palestinian grievances against Israel.

Both Beaumont and Black illustrate the most glaring antisemitic habit present on the Guardian Left: the failure to take modern Jew hatred, manifested in Judeophobic propaganda throughout the Arab/Muslim world, or in terror attacks against Jewish targets, seriously as an unjustifiable form of racism.

The reason why the obscene, often demonic, portrayal of Jews – seen routinely in Arab and Muslim newspapers, caricatures, websites, TV news, films and educational materials - is almost never reported by the Guardian is arguably related to their belief that such hatred stems not from traditional antisemitism, but is merely a reaction to the politics of the Jewish state. 

The narrative which ties global antisemitism to Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians, which has its roots in the far left, has tragically found fertile ground within the mainstream left, and among Western policy makers.

Speaking at a Jewish conference on antisemitism organized by the European Jewish Union (EJU) last December, Howard Gutman, the US Ambassador to Belgium, argued that a distinction should be made between traditional antisemitism, which should be condemned, and Muslim hatred for Jews, which stems from the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Gutman’s stunning moral logic – echoing narratives advanced in the Guardian – posits that the West must be careful not to impute Jew hatred to Muslims in the Middle East whose animosity towards Jews may be merely informed by anti-Zionism.

Such rationales would suggest that demonic depictions of Jews, the belief in Jewish global conspiracies, Holocaust denial and blood libels should not be condemned as dangerous signs of cultural pathogens which evoke the darkest periods in antisemitic history, but, rather, should be contextualized – their “root causes” understood and rationalized.  

It’s as if imputing antisemitism to Muslims who express hatred towards Jews either demonstrates a lack of political sophistication or could even itself suggest a form of ‘Islamophobia’. 

Nobody with a good understanding of the history of antisemitism should be surprised that, once again, antisemitism has found fertile ground.

What is surprising, however, is that many of the most highly educated Western elites fail to understand the most fundamental lesson of centuries of anti-Judaism and antisemitism (and indeed on all forms of racism): that such hatred is always a commentary on the haters – their moral and intellectual failures – and never on the object of such hate.

In every generation there are those who find new reasons to engage in antisemitism, and there are those who will invariably argue that, this time, such hostility towards Jews may be justified – insidiously asking the question, in one form or another, “What have Jews done to make people hate them so much”?