CiF Watch prompts Guardian correction to report on Palestinian prisoners


On April 10, we commented on a Guardian report by Harriet Sherwood, titled ‘John Kerry: talks with Netanyahu and Abbas very constructive‘, about efforts by US Secretary of State John Kerry to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.  Sherwood’s report included several passages about concessions demanded of Israel by Mahmoud Abbas before he’ll agree to resume negotiations, including the following:

[Abbas] also wants the release of 123 political prisoners who have been in jail since before the Oslo accords were signed almost 20 years ago, and for Israel to present a map showing proposed borders. [emphasis added]

As we attempted to demonstrate at the time, using merely open source information, the Palestinians she was alluding to were all convicted for their involvement in murder, or attempted murder, and that the characterization of them as “political prisoners” – suggesting that they were imprisoned merely for their beliefs – seemed to be flatly untrue. 

Additionally, some time after our post CiF Watch was able to obtain detailed information on the pre-Oslo prisoners from Emi Palmor, the Director of Pardons at the Israeli Justice Ministry, which included the crimes, dates of conviction and other relevant facts on every Palestinian prisoner in question.   Palmor’s information proved conclusively that all of the prisoners consisted of common criminals convicted of murder and (mostly) terrorists who murdered or attempted to murder Israeli civilians, soldiers, or foreign tourists.

Some time after providing the Guardian with proof that the Palestinians in question can not fairly be referred to “political prisoners” they agreed to revise the passage, which now modifies the claim to note that the pre-Oslo prisoners are merely described as “political prisoners” by the Palestinians:

The Palestinians also want the release of 123 prisoners, viewed as political prisoners by the Palestinians, who have been in jail since before the Oslo accords were signed almost 20 years ago, and for Israel to present a map showing proposed borders.

As we noted at the time of our original post, many Palestinians regard even compatriots convicted of deadly terrorist acts euphemistically as “political prisoners”, and that Sherwood’s text, intentionally or otherwise, served to legitimize the Palestinian narrative which glorifies even terrorists convicted of the most gruesome crimes as ‘victims’ of Israeli oppression. 

Our efforts to secure the definition of the term “political prisoner” – which is clearly understood to mean ‘those who are imprisoned for their political beliefs’ - represents an attempt to fight back against the manipulation of language, in the service of an egregiously pro-Palestinian agenda, which is routinely advanced by the Guardian and their fellow political travelers.

This Guardian revision represents one victory within the larger cognitive war.

12 comments on “CiF Watch prompts Guardian correction to report on Palestinian prisoners

  1. Well done. Sherwood’s gullibility is appalling in a journalist. Any normal person would have learned by now that the Palestinians lie to western journalists as a matter of course, and that nothing they say should be believed until it has been checked out.

  2. So from completely false to partially true. I guess that is the best we can get from the Guardian.

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  4. “The Palestinians also want the release of 123 prisoners, viewed as political prisoners by the Palestinians, who have been in jail since before the Oslo …”
    Not viewed, but convicted as terrorists by Israel, a legal processing of which Palestinian institutions and organisations are by definition and in reality institutionally incapable, but supported in their illegality, in all dimensions, international law, human rights, citzen rightsby the Al NGOs and Al Guardians of the world.

    • I agree. A more honest amendment would have been “…laughably viewed as political prisoners by the Palestinians…” or “…all convicted of major crimes, yet STILL strangely viewed as political prisoners by the Palestinians…”

      The fact that this is one of the demands of the PA demonstrates their priorities. Do they want peace, and to build a successful country? If so, you would have thought that keeping violent criminals off the strreet (and getting a neighbouring country to pay for doing so) would be a GOOD thing. But no, before they even set up the state, they want to have all the violent criminals who share their ethnicity freed to wreak havoc. Odd.

    • If Sherwood really does have stick with the “political prisoners” line, she could at least say e.g. “viewed as political prisoners by the Palestinians despite having been convicted for their involvement in murder, or attempted murder”.

      The Israeli justice system does not exactly have a past record of jailing people for murder on a whim.

  5. The very next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesn’t disappoint me just as much as this particular one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read through, however I genuinely thought you would have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something that you could possibly fix if you were not too busy searching for attention. http://www.Friv200.com

  6. Its not just the political prisoners that damage Israel’s reputation so badly, its the systematic locking up of Palestinian children, seized by raids in the middle of the night and then tried in military courts.

    Nobody else in the world has ever targeted children to be destroyed, mentally, physically and educationally the way Israel has been doing for many years now:

    “In 2012, around 600 Palestinian children were arrested by the Israeli military. … There has been no change in the way Palestinian child prisoners are treated during the various phases of arrest, pretrial detention, interrogation and imprisonment.”

    “Physical and verbal abuse, solitary confinement, illtreatment, threats, strip searches and detention inside Israel in violation of Article 76 continued to be used by the Israeli authorities and perpetrators have not been held accountable for the violations they commit.”

    Do these people really “Share our Values”? They make Assad sound compassionate!

    • Making excuses for the Syrian regime again ‘Nick’
      Over on the sister site BBC Watch on the thread ‘A story the BBC will not tell’ you wrote on June 4, 2013 @ 1:58AM,
      “Syria is a law-abiding member of the international community. Was then and is now.”

      Oh dear me, ‘Nick’. Then why has the UN Human Rights Council, a body not known for being sympathetic towards Israel and the other western democracies, published the following.
      UN Human Rights Council, 23rd session, Agenda Item 4,
      Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic.
      “This report covers the period 15 January to 15 May 2013. The findings are based on 430 interviews and other collected evidence.
      Government forces and affiliated militia have committed murder, torture, rape, forcible displacement, enforced disappearance and other inhumane acts. Many of these crimes were perpetrated as part of widespread or systematic attacks against civilian populations and constitute crimes against humanity. War crimes and gross violations of international human rights law – including summary execution, arbitrary arrest and detention, unlawful attack, attacking protected objects, and pillaging and destruction of property – have also been committed.”

    • Nobody else in the world has ever targeted children to be destroyed, mentally, physically and educationally the way Israel has been doing for many years now:

      What a load of utter bollocks.

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