How many Jews must die for Israel to claim the moral high ground?

Here’s the latest Peter Brooks cartoon published at The Times (of London) 

times moral calculus

First, note that the pile of dead Israeli bodies shows a mix of soldiers and civilians, while the Palestinian pile seems to depict only civilians.  Evidently, Brooks is uncritically accepting figures provided by the Hamas run Gaza Health Ministry (cited uncritically by the media) claiming that up to 80% of those killed in Gaza have been civilians, rather alternative figures suggesting that the number may end up being closer to 50% civilians.

However, more interesting than his statistical assumption is his specious moral calculus, one which seems to rest upon the argument that the disparity in casualties between Gaza and Israel demolishes Israel’s claim to the moral high ground. This faulty assumption is refuted by examining the disparity in casualties in other just wars, such as the Kosovo Campaign, in which NATO forces suffered no casualties during their 77 days of bombings, while over 500 Yugoslav civilians and another 500 or so combatants were killed.  

Would anyone argue that the NATO campaign (to stop the ethnic cleansing of Albanians), was morally compromised by virtue of this huge disparity pf roughly 1,000 to 0?

Of course, similar disparities in casualties were evident in the NATO operation in Afghanistan and the ongoing US drone campaign on al-Qaeda terrorists in Pakistan. Yet, very few would suggest that NATO lost the moral high ground by virtue of this imbalance in deaths. 

The real moral disparity in this war relates to the fact that the IDF diligently protects its own citizens while taking precautions few if any other armies would take to minimize Palestinian civilian casualties. While Hamas, on the other hand – whose leaders just repeated their mantra that they love death while Israelis love life – launches rockets almost exclusively at Israeli civilians, while intentionally placing their own civilians in harm’s way (the documented use of human shields) to protect their fighters and gain PR points when civilians are killed.  

Since the start of the war, Hamas has fired 2,830 rockets and mortars at Israeli communities, while the IDF has struck over 4200 Hamas targets.  Though of course there have been Israeli misfires, and Palestinian civilians have tragically been killed as the result of Hamas forces firing from civilian buildings, drawing IDF return fire.  Yet, despite the sensational media reports suggesting otherwise, Israeli forces don’t intentionally target Palestinian civilians. 

If the Times cartoonist is suggesting that more Israeli deaths would allow the state to lay claim to the moral high ground, he should remember that the primary duty of any country is to protect its citizens from harm, that there is neither nobility nor virtue in victim-hood, and Israelis certainty need not apologize for their effectiveness at protecting their citizens from attacks launched, let’s remember, by an antisemitic extremist group which seeks its destruction.   

 

Chris McGreal: The worst Guardian journalist

This blog has consistently demonstrated the journalistic malice of Guardian reporter Chris McGreal - a reporter so hostile to Israel that he all but accused IDF soldiers of deliberately murdering innocent Palestinian children. He’s also achieved the rare distinction of being singled out by the CST (the British charity tasked with protecting British’s Jewish community) in their 2011 report on antisemitic discourse.

So, while the tone of the following Tweet (on July 22) by McGreal didn’t surprise us, the wild nature of his claim inspired us to take a brief look at the issue he addressed.

Interestingly, the claim in the tweet – that the Israeli Prime Minister once led a rally under the banner “death to Arabs”, and the broader argument that this wish to kill Arabs motivated his decision to attack Hamas in early July, was repeated in a July 31st Guardian op-ed by McGreal titled American media’s new pro-Israel bias: the same party line at the wrong time‘.

His op-ed begins thusly:

Here are a few questions you won’t hear asked of the parade of Israeli officials crossing US television screens during the current crisis in Gaza:

  • What would you do if a foreign country was occupying your land?
  • What does it mean that Israeli cabinet ministers deny Palestine’s right to exist?
  • What should we make of a prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, who as opposition leader in the 1990s was found addressing rallies under a banner reading “Death to Arabs”?

McGreal’s proposed questions were meant to serve as a contrast to what he believed to be softball questions ask by US reporters of Israeli officials during the current war.

Leaving aside McGreal’s specious claim that the US media isn’t critical enough of Israel, the reason why reporters haven’t asked Israeli officials about the rally in July 1994 where Bibi allegedly spoke under a banner reading “Death to Arabs” is is because the banner in question didn’t actually say that.

First, while you can watch the full video (which McGreal embedded in this Tweet) here to see for yourself, here’s a snapshot of the frame which captures the banner under which Bibi (then the opposition leader) addressed the crowd.

bibi

The banner, at this anti-Yasser Arafat rally, reads, in Hebrew, “Death to the master murderer“, referring of course to Arafat, and the English to the right (though admittedly unclear) reads, based on multiple media reports at the time, “Death to Arafat“. It didn’t read, as McGreal claims, “Death to Arabs”, but “Death to Arafat” – the Palestinian leader dubbed the father of modern terror due to his role in scores of deadly Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians. (Indeed, Arafat’s war on Israeli mean, women and children continued in the 90s and early 2000s’, even after the Oslo Agreement) 

Here’s a passage from the Chicago Tribune on July 4, 1994:

The visit of the man of blood, Arafat, to the State of Israel, paraded and protected by hundreds of Israeli policemen and soldiers, is the height of the absurd and degrading show that we have witnessed in this past year,” said keynote speaker Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the opposition Likud Party. He spoke from a podium decked with a banner that read “Death to Arafat.”

Here’s a passage from the Philadelphia Inquirer on July 4, 1994.

Scores of police collected at the fringes of the Israel rally, while Orthodox Jewish men in black hats and knit yarmulkes and women in head coverings shouted anti-government slogans. They carried placards caricaturing Rabin – even setting at least one afire – and draped banners, like that screamingDeath to Arafat.

Here’s a passage from The Santa Cruz Sentinel on July 4th, 1994, referring to the Hebrew section of the banner:

He spoke from a second-floor balcony draped with a banner reading: “Death to the Master Murderer”.

Here’s a passage from the Seattle Times on July 4, 1994, again referring to the Hebrew section of the banner.

He spoke from a second-floor balcony draped with a banner reading,Death to the master murderer.” Usually leaders of the mainstream opposition party distance themselves from such belligerent slogans.

Finally, it’s of course true that the rally in question included some truly hateful chants and placards, and Netanyahu’s decision 20 years ago to speak at the rally should be criticized.  However, that’s not the point.  McGreal erroneously claimed in his Tweet (and Guardian op-ed) that Bibi spoke above a banner which read “Death to Arabs“, to which he added in his Tweet: “Now he’s making it come true“.  

McGreal was imputing homicidal racist motivations to Netanyahu’s decision to launch a war against Hamas – a smear of the Israeli Prime Minister which was based on a total lie.

Hey, Liberals Who Oppose Israel: You’re All Right-Wingers Now

Tablet published an essay by Liel Leibovitz today that is truly a must read.  

Here are the first few paragraphs:

As those of us who’ve had the dubious pleasure of being in combat know, the fog of war is a very real thing. It’s hard sometimes to tell which direction’s which when there’s shooting, and the blast of artillery is loud enough to drown out most rational thoughts. The same is true not only for people who fight in wars but also for people who observe them: Emotions run high. Resentments creep in. Confusion is rampant and hard to dispel. But it’s precisely in times of war that cooler heads must prevail, which is why I propose the following thought experiment.

Imagine a politician ascending to the governorship of a small southern state. Having campaigned on a platform of extreme patriotic fervor and religious zeal—in his stump speech, he thundered that by the grace of God, America will last as long as there exist Heaven and Earth—the governor wasted no time translating his beliefs into law. Because the governor believed that homosexuals were “a minority of perverts and the mentally and morally sick,” he outlawed them, instructing his police officers to seek, capture, beat up, and imprison every gay individual in the state. Similarly, women were deemed better off tending to their families than wasting their time with such corrupting pursuits as jobs. A special educational program was devised and approved to teach young girls the fundamentals. These future wives and mothers, read the governor’s statement, “must be fully capable of being aware and of grasping the ways to manage their households. Economy and avoiding waste in household expenditures are prerequisites to our ability to pursue our cause in the difficult circumstances surrounding us.” The men of the state reveled in this new way of life, asserting themselves as lords of their manors; before too long, nearly half of them took to regularly battering their wives.

How many of those who define themselves as liberals would support the governor? Very few, if any. More likely, our hypothetical politician would have galvanized the left into action: The cleverly worded emails from progressive organizations, the fiery segments onThe Daily Show, the pledges from celebrities to stop the menace—all would have been upon us before too long. And yet when the same politician appears halfway across the world, sporting a beard and proceeding far beyond the relatively tame scenario described above—sacrificing his own nation’s children and eager to murder innocent civilians across the border—all clarity seems to dissipate. All the homicidal zealot has to do is mumble something about justice and disproportionality and self-determination, and he’s transformed into a respectable, not to say sympathetic, figure.

Read the rest of the essay here.

Guardian journos Tweet their ‘liberal’ views on the Jewish State

Much like the Guardian’s egregiously one-sided coverage of the war, many tweets by Guardian journalists about the conflict have demonized Israel, and completely ignored the role played by Hamas – the antisemitic terrorist group ruling Gaza.

Here’s are just a few recent Tweets by ‘professional’ journalists affiliated with a media institution which fancies itself the world’s leading liberal voice:

George Monibot:

gmIsrael has committed mass murder

Antony Lerman

al

Zionism wants antisemitism in Europe

Joseph Harker 

jh

Israel is evil, in two tweets

 

Regarding Harker, we should note that he’s the Guardian’s Assistant Comments Editor, which helps explain the biased comment moderation we’re continually documenting.

Guardian publishes letters legitimizing terrorism & evoking Israel-Nazi analogy

Before posting two of the letters that Guardian editors decided to publish, on July 30, first let’s look at the headline.

headline

Again, remember that these are not simply comments below the line, but letters to the editor that Guardian editors believed had merit, and provided “historical context” to help understand the conflict.

Moral justification of Palestinian terrorism / Genocide charge.

letter 1

A few observations: First, the letter is comparing Israel’s war against Hamas (and, presumably their conflict with the Palestinians more broadly) with genocides in the Balkans, Rwanda and Sudan.  However, what particularly stands out is the implicit justification of Palestinian terrorism. Of course, we should remember that the Guardian has, on several occasions, amplified and legitimized voices which justified, on moral grounds, the Palestinians’ right to murder Israelis.

  • In 2011, the Guardian published a letter by a British philosophy professor which explicitly defended the right of Palestinians to murder Israeli civilians in terror attacks – an editorial decision which was actually defended by their readers’ editor following the uproar which ensued.
  • Also in 2011, the Guardian editorialized about the ‘Arab Spring’, and actually praised the Palestinians for launching intifadas.
  • In 2012, during the war in Gaza, Associate Editor Seumas Milne wrote an op-ed  of Hamas terrorists to launch terror attacks against Israelis, and argued that Israel has no such moral right to defend itself.
  • On July 16, 2014, Seumas Milne again revisited the same topic in a column about the current war in Gaza, and reiterated his belief that Palestinians have the right to engage in deadly acts of terrorism, while Israelis have no such right to defend themselves against Hamas.
  • On July 25th, a Guardian journalist and British priest named Giles Fraser published a column which defended, on moral grounds, ‘just’ acts of Palestinian terrorism.

We should point out that there is absolutely no international law which legally codifies the right to commit terrorism.

Israel-Nazi analogy

There was one more letter worth examining, one which evoked Nazi Germany in contextualizing Israeli crimes.

second letter

We have deconstructed such comparisons in the past, but let’s suggest to Mr. McCulloch that the only relevant analogy to Nazi Germany in the current conflict is that the world is once again silent in the face of expressions of openly genocidal Jew-hatred by Islamist extremists such as Hamas.  And, if anyone out there believes our characterization of Hamas is over-the-top, here’s a speech delivered by Mahmoud al-Zahar, senior leader and co-founder of the group, on Al-Aqsa TV in 2010:

If you’d like a more recent example, here’s Hamas’s Friday Sermon which aired on Al Aqsa TV on July 25th.

Of course, as anyone who has taken the time to look at sites such as Palestinian Media Watch and MEMRI would surely know, homicidal (and often genocidal) antisemitism is not the exception within Palestinian society.

Those in the Western media who legitimize narratives suggesting that Israelis are engaged in a project akin to genocide against Palestinians, thus justifying acts of violent resistance, are engaging in a profound historical inversion – blinded perhaps by a far-left ideology which can’t morally distinguish between antisemitic extremists and the Jews they’re trying to kill. 

 

Never Again: Jews don’t need lessons in morality from John Prescott

Last year David Ward MP decided to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day by grossly debasing Holocaust memory. He published a post on his website which included the following passage:

Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.

Though he later issued a pseudo apology, subsequent statements and Tweets by the Liberal Democrat from Bradford East suggest that his imperious lecturing to Jews about their myriad deficiencies represents his true views.

Now, just a few days ago, the British tabloid The Daily Mirror published an op-ed by former British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott titled, Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is a war crime and it should end.

prescott

John Prescott

His op-ed included the following charges.

Those who live in Gaza are kept like prisoners behind walls and fences, unable to escape the bombings, and an Israeli economic blockade has forced Palestinians into poverty.

Israel’s Iron Dome defence system easily intercepts missiles launched from Gaza. Three Israeli citizens have died from these ­primitive rockets, with 32 soldiers killed fighting Hamas.

Compare that to the toll in Gaza. Of the 1,000-plus to die, more than 80 per cent were ­civilians, mostly women and children.

But who is to say some of the other 20 per cent weren’t ­innocent too? Israel brands them terrorists but it is acting as judge, jury and ­executioner in the ­concentration camp that is Gaza.

And Israel flouts international law by continuing to build illegal Jewish settlements. Why? Because it knows it can get away with it.

As if the grotesque and appallingly misinformed accusation that Israel is keeping Palestinians in a “concentration camp” isn’t bad enough, Prescott then doubles down on his Holocaust inversion, and asserts the following:

What happened to the Jewish people at the hands of the Nazis is appalling. But you would think those atrocities would give Israelis a unique sense of perspective and empathy with the victims of a ghetto.

While his concentration camp comparison is contemptible, the “they-of-all-people” argument – the suggestion that Jews, having faced unimaginable persecution during the Holocaust, should know better than anyone not to be oppressors – is arguably much, much worse.

As Howard Jacobson argued about critics who lecture Jews on their sub-par post-Shoah moral performance:

“[For such people] the Holocaust becomes an educational experience from which Jews were ethically obliged to graduate summa cum laude, Israel being the proof that they didn’t.” 

But, I think the most eloquent refutation of such criticism leveled at Jews was written by Chas Newkey-Burden, who argued that those who employ the “they of all people” argument are essentially saying that, following the systematic extermination of six million, it is Jews, and not the antisemites, who have lessons to learn – that it is Jews, not the antisemites, who need to clean up their act.

One thing is certain: Jews do not need lessons in morality from John Prescott.

Finally, at at time when Israel is fighting a war with an extremist movement which openly calls for a new genocide; when synagogues are being attacked and the chant of ‘Death to Jews’ can be heard in ‘enlightened’ capitals in Europe; and when Jews are again fleeing the continent in fear of persecution, perhaps non-Jews who have previously mouthed the words ‘never again’ should think seriously about what precisely this ethical imperative demands.

CiF Watch prompts 3rd correction over false claims that murdered Israeli teens were ‘settlers’

Since Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel were abducted and murdered by Palestinian terrorists last month, we’ve prompted two corrections to false claims (at the Independent and the Guardian) that the three teens were ‘settlers’. 

More recently, we contacted Indy editors about the following passage in an op-ed at the paper by the British-Israeli anti-Zionist historian (and Guardian contributor) Avi Shlaim.

Here’s the original:

He [Netanyahu] used the abduction of three young Jewish settlers on the West Bank as an excuse for a violent crackdown on Hamas supporters…

Recently, Indy editors once again agreed to correct the erroneous characterization of the three murdered boys, and the passage now reads:

He used the abduction of three Jewish teenagers on the West Bank as an excuse for a violent crackdown on Hamas supporters

We commend Indy editors for correcting Shlaim’s false claim. 

Indy suggests slick Israeli PR obscures truth about dead Palestinians (Updated)

The first sentence in Patrick Cockburn’s latest Indy op-ed provides enough insight into the ideological myopia of the British far-left to properly contextualize the rest of the piece.

To many readers the New York Times coverage of the war in Gaza comes across as neutered or as having a pro-Israeli bias

The risible claim (easily refuted by a large volume of CAMERA’s reports on the NYT’s coverage of Israel) introduces readers to the main narrative being advanced:

But not to Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador in Washington, who lambasts the paper for failing “to mention that a million Israelis were in bomb shelters yesterday as 100 rockets were fired at our civilian population.” 

Mr Dermer is considered so close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he has been called “Bibi’s brain”. He is also a former student and employee of Frank Luntz, the Republican strategist who produced a confidential booklet in 2009, promptly leaked, advising Israeli spokesmen how best to manipulate American and European public opinion

It is a sophisticated document based on wide-ranging opinion polls, suggesting, for instance, that the removal of Israeli settlements from the West Bank should be denounced as “a kind of ethnic cleansing”. Dr Luntz stresses that spokesmen must demonise Hamas, but above all emphasise that they feel for the sufferings of Palestinians as well as Israelis. As a sample of what they should say, he gives: “The day will come when Israeli children and Palestinian children will grow up together, play together, and work together side-by-side not just because they have to but because they want to.”

It’s as if Cockburn truly believes, and is asking readers to believe, that only Israel uses public opinion research to craft an effective message. 

However, it gets worse:

The problem about this approach is that it sounds particularly hypocritical when, according to Unicef, 230 children have been killed in Gaza, an average of ten a day, and 2,000 have been wounded by Israeli bombs, shells and bullets. Israeli spokesmen are now denying their responsibility for the most notorious and televised atrocities such as the strike on the UN hospital [sic] last week…This is an old PR tactic, though not one recommended by Dr Luntz, which is sometime referred to as “first you say no story, then you say old story”. In other words, deny everything in the teeth of the evidence on day one and, by the time definitive proof of the massacre comes through, nobody notices when you have to admit responsibility.

He’s likely referring to the deaths of 15 Palestinians at a UN school (not a hospital) in Beit Hanoun, the one which a recently released video strongly suggests was not the result of an IDF shell. 

Further, Cockburn has it completely backwards. As we revealed in a post on July 28th, the UK media almost universally blamed Israel on the strike, and most media outlets haven’t updated their stories (or published new ones) even after the IDF released footage showing that their errant shell hit an empty school courtyard, and couldn’t have killed the 15 children, as Palestinians claimed.  

In other words, it’s the media – in classic hit ‘n run style journalism – which has ‘moved on’ after rushing to judge Israel. a dynamic which is the opposite of what Cockburn’s claims. 

Cockburn continues:

A problem here is that propaganda that works in a short war comes back to haunt you in a longer one. This is now happening in Gaza. Israeli air and artillery strikes and Hamas mortars and rockets are often presented as if they balanced each other out in terms of lethality. But the most important statistic here is that some 1,100 Palestinians have been killed as opposed to three civilians in Israel.

First, Cockburn conveniently neglects to note, in addition to the three civilians, 53 Israeli soldiers have been killed in the war.  As far as the “lack of symmetry”, it does indeed exist, but not in the manner Cockburn describes.  While Israeli strikes are aimed at legitimate military targets in Gaza, Hamas rockets are exclusively fired at Israeli civilians (all of which represent war crimes), and intentionally use their own civilians as human shields (another war crime).

The moral imbalance between the two sides couldn’t be starker. 

Again, Cockburn:

Despite his tutoring by Dr Luntz, Mr Dermer only speaks these days to the converted. Attending a Christians United for Israel Summit in Washington he replied to protesters who called him a “war criminal” by saying that “the truth is that the Israeli Defence Forces should be given a Nobel Peace Prize”. Stuff like this may explain why a Gallup poll shows that among Americans aged between 18 and 29 some 51 per cent said Israel’s actions were unjustified while only 23 per cent said they were. 

Cockburn neglects to mention that this same Gallup poll showed that a plurality of Americans, representing all age groups, believe Israel’s actions to be justified.  Conversely, when asked about Hamas’s actions, 70% believe they are unjustified, while only 11% believe them to be justified.  Such results are consistent with Gallup polling about Americans support for Israel over the past four decades, consistently showing overwhelming bi-partisan support for the Jewish State.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the Indy chose to Tweet Cockburn’s op-ed using the following text and graphic:

capture

In addition to the fact that the tweet contradicts Cockburn’s claims (that Israel is NOT in fact able to hide what they’re doing from the world), it’s telling that they decided to use a photo purportedly showing rows and rows of Palestinian caskets – Palestinian deaths Israel is presumably ‘hiding from the world’ – when, as a report in an Italian newspaper indicates, the coffins were merely props as part of an anti-Israel protest.

However, as the Indy, Guardian and New York Times clearly know from years of experience, even erroneous or misleading evidence putatively demonstrating Israeli culpability in Palestinian suffering can be an extremely effective tool to “manipulate American and European public opinion”.

UPDATE: Shortly after our post was published, we noticed that the Indy re-Tweeted the story with a new photo and, interestingly, different text – this time consistent with the substance of Cockburn’s post. 

new tweet pic

Robert Fisk is worried about terror threat posed by ‘radicalized British Zionists’

 An article in the Independent on June 22nd reported that “hundreds of veteran fighters from Syria and Iraq are already back in Britain, among them radicalized jihadists intent on mounting terror attacks”.  In a speech last October, MI5 director-general Andrew Parker said: “A growing proportion of our casework now has some link to Syria, mostly concerning individuals from the UK who have traveled to fight there or who aspire to do so.” Even more troubling, according to the Financial Times “more than half of MI5’s anti-terror investigations involve Britons who have travelled to fight in Syria“.

While it’s well-known that the 7/7 London bombers trained in jihadist camps in Pakistan, and that the main suspect in the murder of Lee Rigby attempted to train with a group linked to al-Qaeda, the threat posted by radicalized European Islamists was illustrated more recently when it was reported that the terrorist who murdered four at the Brussels Jewish Museum spent over a year in Syria training with “jihadist terrorist groups”.

Nonetheless, despite such incidents, the threat which seems to keep Robert Fisk up at night is one of fairness – the question of whether British security agencies are equally keeping an eye on a potentially radicalized group of another religious tradition.

In a truly risible column at the Indy on July 28th titled “It’s not just radicalised Islamists – what about foreign fighters who flock to the IDF?”, Fisk writes the following:

Now I think it’s a good idea that the lads in blue are keeping their eyes open at Heathrow for British citizens who’ve been fighting in the Middle East. I hope they are doing a thorough job of it – and I mean thorough. I don’t want to bump into a chap who’s been firing missiles at Christian families in Syria. But on the other hand, I also don’t want to bump into a chap who’s been firing tank shells into the homes of Palestinians in Gaza.

it would be very interesting to know if the British government is taking as close an interest as it should in any UK citizens – even if they have any other passports – who have been fighting in Israeli uniform in Gaza in the past couple of weeks.

First, can Fisk cite even one example in the history of Israel of a foreign-born IDF soldier who returned to his former country (be it the UK, US, France, Australia or anywhere else) and committed an act of terrorism?

Moreover, while we don’t have inside information into the workings of that nation’s intelligence agencies, our humble guess is that citizens in the UK can relax, and be confident that there is no intel suggesting that ‘radicalized Zionists’ in neighborhoods like Hendon, Stamford Hill and Golders Green are even conceiving of (yet alone plotting) terror attacks on British soil.

Guardian uncritically cites ‘expert’ views of racist and conspiracy theorist

Just how extreme and bigoted does someone have to be for Guardian editors to decide against granting his views on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict legitimacy?

Would you say that an ‘expert’ who’s a 9/11 conspiracy theorist – having argued that the attacks on NYC and Washington were an “inside job” – should be discredited as a source whose criticism of Israel has merit?

Further, what if such a ‘expert’ published blatantly anti-Semitic cartoons and articles on his blog, and endorsed the book of a neo-Nazi style racist?

And, what if this same ‘expert’ accused Israel of having “genocidal intentions” and of slouching towards a “Palestinian Holocaust” while, conversely, praising the late Iranian dictator Ayatollah Khomeini for his “humane governance”?

Well, according to the Guardian, the racist conspiracist cum ‘expert’ in question – Richard Falk – indeed deserves to have his criticism of Israel’s conduct of the war in Gaza amplified.

A recent update from the Guardian’s Live Blog of the war noted the following.

Dozens of international law experts, including John Dugard and Richard Falk, both former UN special rapporteurs on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, have said the “civilian population of the Gaza Strip is under attack”. They say that the launch of rockets from Gaza is illegal under international law as well as morally intolerable but that Israel’s actions are of “incomparable magnitude”.

Blandly characterizing Richard Falk as an “international law expert” is of course akin to describing Gilad Atzmon – the Hitler apologist and Holocaust denier - as merely a jazz musician

Harriet Sherwood channels her inner Baghdad Bob in story on human shield ‘claims’

The Guardian, as with a relatively small but vocal and influential segment of the Western Left, is defined ideologically by their insistence that all people – and all political movements – are reasonable, and share more or less the same values regarding the sanctity of human life that they do. This dynamic – characterized by one academic a liberal cognitive egocentrism – is most pronounced in the Guardian’s coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, particularly when focus turns to the actions of Islamist extremist groups in the region.

Within their coverage of the current war, their correspondents (Peter Beaumont, Harriet Sherwood, and others) seem to process undeniable evidence of Hamas war crimes, such as their long-time use of human shields, as something akin to Zionist propaganda – ‘smears’ against the Palestinians which they seem determined to refute. (Indeed, such Guardian obfuscations about human shields are not deterred by the fact that Hamas spokespersons have admitted that the practice is effective.)

Harriet Sherwood’s July 24th article, In Gaza, Hamas fighters are among civilians. There is nowhere else for them to go‘ represents a classic example of this dynamic.

Her article begins thusly:

Israel‘s accusation that Hamas is using civilians as human shields has grown increasingly strident as the war in Gaza worsens.

The charge is laid relentlessly by political and military leaders and media commentators, repeated in conversations by members of the public and echoed in the comments of foreign politicians and diplomats. On the other side of the conflict, the accusation is vigorously denied by Hamas and others in Gaza.

The truth is lost amid the propaganda battle being waged alongside the shells, bombs, guns and rockets. What is certain is that the picture is more complicated than either side claims.

Then, Sherwood writes:

Israel claims Hamas routinely uses hospitals, mosques, schools and private homes to launch rockets at Israel, store weapons, hide command and control centres, shelter military personnel, and conceal tunnel shafts.

Here’s a video demonstrating Israeli “claims” that Hamas uses schools to launch attacks:

Sherwood continues:

On Wednesday, the IDF released a series of maps purporting to show Hamas military sites close to – but not in – schools, hospitals, mosques and residential buildings. It also released video, which it said showed militants using an ambulance to flee after coming under attack by IDF troops, and said the grounds and vicinity of al-Wafa hospital in Gaza City had been “repeatedly utilised by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad as a command centre, rocket-launching site, and a post enabling terrorists to open fire at soldiers”.

But the hospital’s director rejected the Israeli assertion that the hospital had been used for military purposes by Hamas or other militant groups

It’s likely that neither hospital director, nor Sherwood, saw the following video:

Additionally, reporters covering the war have reported that another hospital, al-Shifa, has been used as a command center for Hamas.  

William Booth wrote the following in a July 15th column for the Washington Post:

the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, crowds gathered to throw shoes and eggs at the Palestinian Authority’s health minister, who represents the crumbling “unity government” in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The minister was turned away before he reached the hospital, which has become a de facto headquarters for Hamas leaders, who can be seen in the hallways and offices.

The Jerusalem correspondent for the Financial Times (a publication not known for its pro-Israel sympathies) Tweeted this:

Then, Sherwood’s article takes an even stranger turn, seeming to suggest that even if Hamas fires from civilian areas, it’s arguably justified by their asymmetrical nature of the war.

The current war is not being fought on a conventional battlefield. Israel is pounding Gaza from the air, and its troops are increasingly fighting battles against a guerrilla army in densely populated urban areas – which constitute much of the Gaza Strip. As Israeli tanks and troops push further into the towns and cities, it is increasingly likely that Hamas will launch attacks from positions close to civilian buildings.

The separation between “civilian” and “military” in Gaza is much more blurred than with a conventional army – both physically and in the Gazan psyche. Hamas and other militants are embedded in the population. Their fighters are not quartered in military barracks, but sleep at night in their family homes.

Of course, the Geneva Convention prohibition against the use of human shields doesn’t grant a loophole for “guerrilla armies” operating in “populated urban areas”.  If there was such an exception, every terrorist group in the world would exploit it to ‘legally’ put innocent civilians in harm’s way when carrying out attacks on Western targets.  Additionally, Gaza’s population density (exaggerated though it is) seems to have little relevance in Hamas’s decision (over the course of several wars) to use mosques, hospitals and schools to hide arms and fire rockets. 

Then, Sherwood audaciously attempts to impute moral equivalence between Hamas and the IDF:

Israel, meanwhile, does not have an unblemished record in the use of human shields. In 2010, two soldiers were convicted in an IDF military court of using an 11-year-old Palestinian boy as a human shield in its 2008-09 operation in Gaza. The pair ordered the child to search bags they suspected of being booby-trapped.

Investigations by news organisations and human rights groups have suggested the IDF has used Palestinians as human shields in operations in both Gaza and the West Bank.

Of course, the key words in this passage about this solitary instance of using human shields are “two soldiers were convicted”, unwittingly demonstrating that such acts run completely counter to IDF policy. Indeed, as the article Sherwood linked to noted, “IDF protocols strictly prohibit the use of civilians as human shields.”  Moreover, like any good propagandist, Sherwood uses this one example – representing the rare exception in the context of any army which goes to unparalleled lengths to protect Palestinian civilians  – to impute a moral equivalence which any sober commentator would know is patently absurd. 

Here’s Former Col. Richard Kemp, who led British forces in Afghanistan, talk briefly about the media’s complicity in parroting the Hamas PR strategy:

 

Much like Baghdad Bob, the Iraqi diplomat most known for making comically inaccurate claims during press conferences with Western reporters in the early stages of the 2003 War, Sherwood’s obfuscations on behalf of the terrorist movement (which cynically exploits its own civilians to gain such propaganda victories) will likely one day be treated as a case study in the kind of propaganda which serves to defend the indefensible. 

UK media fail to report evidence contradicting presumption of IDF guilt in UN school deaths

On July 25th we posted about the UK media’s rush to judgement after 15 Palestinian civilians were reportedly killed at a UNWRA school in the Gaza city of Beit Hanoun last Thursday. The Guardian, Independent, The Times, The Telegraph, Daily Mail, and Daily Mirror were among the publications which immediately blamed Israel hours after the incident, despite the dearth of evidence at the time.

However, as we noted in our most recent post last night (July 27), an Israeli army inquiry into the fighting at the UN facility in Beit Hanoun found that IDF mortars did NOT play a role in the killing of 16 people in the school courtyard. The army admitted that an errant IDF-fired shell did hit the UN-run school’s yard, but at a time when there were evidently no people in the area – as the video further in this post shows.

More details were provided by IDF spokesman Peter Lerner, who told reporters yesterday that the IDF had returned fired at Hamas targets (which were stationed near the school) on the day in question, and that one of the errant tank mortars landed in the school courtyard, “injuring no one“. Lerner said it was “extremely unlikely” that anyone had been killed by the mortar round that fell in the empty yard. Lerner also noted that it was quite “out of the ordinary” that Palestinian health officials in Gaza did not share the nature of the wounds of the casualties, which may have shed light on the causes of death.

Here’s the IDF video we posted yesterday, which shows the errant tank shell landing in what appears to be a vacant school yard:

Now, let’s look back at the UK news organizations which immediately blamed Israel for the attack on the UN school.

The Guardian, July 25 (One of the lead stories)

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The Guardian, July 25 (Additional story on the attack)

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The Guardian, July 24 (Their initial video report on the attack)

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(Additional live blog updates on the incident on July 24 at the Guardian similarly judged Israel guilty in the attack, and downplayed evidence of Hamas culpability.)

The Independent, July 24 (One of the lead stories)

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The Times

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The Times, July 24 (An updated article by Catherine Philp of the one seen above included a headline charging Israel with committing a “massacre”)

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Telegraph, July 24

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Telegraph, July 24

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 Daily Mail, July 24

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Daily Mirror, July 24

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Not one of these UK news sites, at the time of this post, have revised their original articles or published a new story which includes the IDF’s new video evidence. 

Since the new information at the very least calls into question the accuracy of the initial reports, editors should take note of the clause in the Editor’s Code of Practice which demands the following:

A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and – where appropriate – an apology published. 

BREAKING: Video suggests IDF mortars did NOT play role in Beit Hanoun killing

On July 25th we posted about the UK media’s rush to judgement after 15 Palestinian civilians were reportedly killed at a UNWRA school in Beit Hanoun – an assault that both Hamas and Israel claim might well be the fault of the other.  The Guardian, Independent, and even The Times immediately blamed Israel hours after the incident, despite the dearth of evidence, and prior to the IDF’s investigation.

Within the last hour, the IDF released the following statement:

Since Thursday, July 24, 2014, the IDF has conducted a comprehensive inquiry regarding the incident in which the UNRWA school was fired upon. The inquiry concluded that during the intense fighting between IDF forces and Hamas militants, the militants operated adjacent to the UNRWA school. The militants fired anti-tank missiles at IDFsoldiers, who then responded by firing several mortars in their direction.

The inquiry and the documented footage presented here concluded that a single errant mortar landed in the courtyard of the UNRWA school, when it was completely empty.

The IDF stresses it does not operate or target international organizations in the Gaza Strip, and the ongoing coordination conducted via the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) is continuous without change, even during times of combat.

In light of the inquiry’s findings, the IDF rejects the claims that were made by various officials immediately following the incident, that people were killed in the school premises as a result of IDF operational activity.

Here’s the video they released: 

We’ll have more on the media ramifications of this developing story tomorrow. 

Sky News asks admitted anti-Semite her views on the rise of UK antisemitism!

We haven’t been monitoring Sky News long enough to provide a broader analysis of their coverage of the war in Gaza, but their decision (yesterday) to interview Mira Bar-Hillel (a British journalist who has admitted to being prejudiced against Jews), on the question of whether antisemitism in the UK will rise as a result of the conflict, reads like something in the parody site, The Onion.

Briefly, for those unfamiliar with Ms. Bar-Hillel (who contributes to the Independent), here’s a few facts about her own views about Jews:

She has complained that Jews (per the Livingstone Formulation) smear people unfairly with the charge of antisemitism to “gag into submission any critic of Israel”.

She recently evoked Nazi Germany in characterizing Israeli racism and IDF military actions in Gaza.

She has accused British Jews (collectively) of ‘bombing Gaza’.

She bizarrely claimed that British Jews don’t criticize Israeli actions in Gaza out of fear of being “ex-communicated” from the Jewish community,

She has admitted to being prejudiced against Jews. Here are her exact words:

The Jews of today scare me and I find it almost impossible to talk to most of them, including relatives. Any criticism of the policies of Israel – including the disgraceful treatment of Holocaust survivors as well as refugees from murderous regimes – is regarded as treason and/or anti-Semitism. Most papers and journals will not even publish articles on the subject for fear of a Jewish backlash. Goyim (gentiles) are often treated with ill-concealed contempt, yet the Jews are always the victims. Am I prejudiced against Jews? Alas, yes. 

Now, let’s go the simply surreal Sky News interview:

Here are a few observations:

  • Bar-Hillel claims that the failure of British Jews to speak out about Israeli ‘crimes’ in Gaza is what causes antisemitism – a perfect example of holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel, an accusation defined as antisemitic by the EUMC Working Definition.
  • The female Sky News co-host asks a follow-up question (at roughly the 1:40 mark) to Bar-Hillel which parrots the claim that Jews label all criticism of Israel antisemitic.
  • Neither Sky News host challenges her when she smears the UK Jewish community, by suggesting that British Jews are culpable for not speaking out against Israel.
  • Neither Sky News host challenges her claim (at roughly the 5:05 mark) that the only reason why the West supports Israel is because of guilt over the Holocaust.
  • More broadly, note that in a Sky News program about antisemitism, they didn’t seek the expertise of The CST (the British charity tasked with protecting Jews against antisemitism), or any official body which actually represents UK Jews, but, rather, a marginal commentator who has admitted to not being part of the Jewish community. If, for instance, they would have asked representatives from The CST, they would have provided data demonstrating that antisemitism has indeed increased in the UK since the beginning of the war.

Finally, if you believe, as we do, that this Sky News segment not only had the effect of smearing the UK Jewish community, but violating Ofcom’s rules on impartiality in news and current affairs, please consider filing an Ofcom complaint.

British Priest (and Guardian journalist) defends Palestinian terrorism

A Church of England Priest named Giles Fraser penned a column at the Guardian defending the Palestinian right of armed resistance.  

Giles Fraser

Giles Fraser

The column, If we can have a just war, why not just terrorism?‘ (which follows a similar pro-terrorism argument advanced by Guardian associate editor Seumas Milne in a column last week) begins by suggesting that the IDF intentionally targets civilians in Gaza, while benignly characterizing Palestinian acts of ‘retaliation’ against the ‘occupation’.

Or, to put it in terms of today’s news: the Israelis won’t have any definition that would make them terrorists for bombing old people’s homes in Gaza, and West Bank Palestinians won’t have any definition that will make them terrorists for fighting back against occupation with petrol bombs

In addition to the risible suggestion that the IDF targets the homes of innocent elderly Palestinians, such Palestinian ‘resistance’ includes much more than Fraser indicates.  Such acts of “resistance” have included (to cite just a few recent examples) the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers, Palestinian sniper fire at an Israeli civilian vehicle that killed a father of five, and an attempted suicide bombing.

Fraser then introduces us to his Palestinian protagonist:

I am eating aubergines and flatbread with Dr Samah Jabr in a cool Palestinian cafe in Stoke Newington….She is an educated, middle-class Palestinian (in no way a rabble-rouser) but she insists that the word terrorist has become a powerful…political pejorative employed to discredit legitimate resistance to the violence of occupation.

What some would call terrorism, she would call a moral duty. She gives me her paper on the subject. “Why is the word ‘terrorist’ so readily applied to individuals or groups who use homemade bombs, but not to states using nuclear and other internationally proscribed weapons to ensure submission to the oppressor?” she asks. She insists that violent resistance must be used in defence and as a last resort. And that it is important to distinguish between civilian and military targets. “The American media call our search for freedom ‘terrorism’,” she complains, “despite the fact that the right to self-determination by armed struggle is permissible under the UN charter’s article 51, concerning self-defence.”

Though Fraser uncritically cites Jabr’s claim that armed struggle is permissible under the UN charter’s article 51, a review of Article 51 demonstrates that there is no such right:

Here’s what Article 51 of the UN’s charter states:

Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.

The language is quite clear. UN “member states” have the right of self-defense, not armed terrorist groups and illegal militias.  Such a doctrine clearly grants Israel (a UN member state) has the right to respond to rocket fire, while Hamas, as an internationally proscribed terrorist group which indiscriminately attacks civilians, is not granted such a right under Article 51.

Fraser finishes:

I took part in the Moral Maze recently on Radio 4 and was howled at for suggesting that there could be a moral right of resistance to oppression. And the suggestion was made that, as a priest, I ought to take no such line.

 

It is nonsense to think that being a state grants some sort of blanket immunity from the charge of terrorism – and certainly not from the moral opprobrium we attach to that term. We talk of asymmetric warfare. This is asymmetric morality: one that, in terms of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, loads the dice in favour of the occupation. This is just not right.

It seems that a priest should avoid emboldening a proscribed terror movement by distorting international law to suggest that attacks on civilians may be legally justified, and – even more importantly – refrain from obfuscating the profound moral difference between homicidal antisemitic extremists and the Jews they’re trying to kill. 

 

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