The Guardian has absolutely no idea why a Jewish man was murdered near Hebron

To understand the latest report by Peter Beaumont (the Guardian’s new Jerusalem correspondent), it’s necessary to comprehend the Guardian’s view of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, in which Israelis represent privileged Western colonialists, and are almost completely the guilty party, while Palestinians are the weak, the dispossessed and colonized – and are almost entirely the victims.

Since their journalistic ethos seems inspired by a desire to, as one Guardian journalist phrased it, ‘comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable’, even the most brutal Palestinian terror attacks will necessarily be framed in a manner which robs Israeli victims of their humanity, and obfuscates the malevolence of the Palestinian perpetrator.

To wit, a April 14 story by Beaumont on a deadly terrorist attack near Hebron, on the eve of Passover, in which a Jewish man (Baruch Mizrachi) was killed, and his wife (Hadas) and children injured by Palestinian sniper fire, is notable for the absence of the words “terrorist” or even “militant”, its subtle attempts to downplay the deadly assault and the suggestion that the motive for the attack is ‘unclear’.  

The story, titled Israeli man killed and family members hurt as car fired on in West Bank, begins thusly:

One Israeli was killed three others injured after their car was hit by gunfire as they travelled through the West Bank on the eve of the Jewish Passover holiday.

The dead man, aged 40, was understood to be the father of the family while his pregnant wife, aged 28, and two children – one of them a nine-year old – were injured.

At least one man armed with an automatic weapon and apparently wearing a helmet opened fire on several cars travelling on route 35 near the city of Hebron, according to witness reports.

Note the passive language in the title and the opening passage, in which the victim’s car was hit by “gunfire”.  It isn’t until the third paragraph that “an armed man” makes an appearance.  However, the identity or likely motive of “the armed man” is not explored.

Beaumont continues:

The family in the car that was hit was understood to be en route from their home in Modi’in – an Israeli town split across occupied Palestinian and Israeli territory – to visit the mother’s family for the traditional meal that commences the Passover religious festival. The shooting was the second incident in the past two days on the West Bank.

This paragraph represents the first attempt to impute ‘settler’ status upon the victim.  However, Beaumont gets it wrong. Modi’in (where this writer lives) is fully within the green line, and does not extend into “Palestinian territory”.

Beaumont continues, and fails to properly contextualize additional information which clearly indicates a terror attack had taken place.

A traveller in another of the cars relayed the incident to an Israeli news agency describing the man as armed with a Kalashnikov and wearing a helmet. “He opened fire but didn’t hit us. He kept firing at the cars behind us,” the man said.

Israel‘s Channel 10 quoted another witness describing the man as dressed in black.

Beaumont then adds information which could easily be read as possible motives – if not justifications – for the shooting, which is curious in that, up until this point, he hasn’t so much as hinted that the attack could be nationalist (or political) in nature.

The shooting comes amid increasing tensions following a stalemate in peace talks.

It also comes hard on the heels of permission by the Israeli army on Sunday for three settler families to move into a building in nearby Hebron, after a long legal battle and culminating on Sunday with the authorisation by Israel’s defence minister, Moshe Ya’alon, of the first new settlement in Hebron since the 1980s.

Then, in the penultimate paragraph, Beaumont descends to the absurd, feigning ignorance as to the likely motive:

However, with no immediate claim of responsibility the precise motives for the shooting remained unclear.

Finally, there this closing paragraph:

In the last 12 months five Israelis have been killed in attacks on the West Bank. According to figures collated by the Israeli NGO B’Tselem between January 2009 and the end of February this year 82 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces or civilians on the West Bank and 20 Israelis.

Note that, per Beaumont, Israelis have been killed by “attacks” perpetrated by faceless perpetrators, while Palestinians have been killed by “Israelis”.

Finally, in light of Beaumont’s callous, agenda-driven report, here’s a first-hand account of the shooting (per the Israeli media) which will humanize the victims:

“We left our house in Modi’in and headed to the Seder,” Hadas Mizrahi told Ynet. “We passed the Tarqumia checkpoint and a traffic circle, and then Baruch saw a terrorist. He told me, ‘they’re shooting, they’re shooting, they’re shooting. There’s a terrorist.’ Baruch put his foot down on the gas pedal.

“I felt a pain in my back. I told the kids, ‘take off your seatbelts and lie down on the floor’. I took the steering wheel, shifted into low gear and used the handbrake to reduce the speed. I used a rag to wipe up the blood; I saw that Baruch was dead. When the soldiers arrived, I told them to dress my wounds and put the children in a protected vehicle, so that they didn’t see their father lying dead.”

The initial investigation into the attack found that the terrorist fired dozens of rounds from a Kalashnikov at vehicles, hitting the car in which Baruch and Hadas Mizrahi and five of their children were travelling. The children, aged between 3 and 13, did not suffer any injuries, in no small part thanks to Hadas’ quick thinking.

I’ll be strong for the children, because that’s what Baruch would have wanted. We should also be thankful for the miracle that my children and I survived. We will stay strong and God willing, my children will grow and succeed, and that will be my victory against the terrorists,” said the mother, whose condition is defined as moderate. “I have two bullet wounds and a fractured rib.”

hadas

Sounds Israeli: Passover edition

Here is a version of ‘Mah Nishtanah‘ (מה נשתנה), a song from the Passover Haggadah known as The Four Questions.

Chag Pesach Sameach!

The Four Questions:

Why is this night different from all other nights?

On all other nights we eat leavened products and matzah, and on this night only matzah.

On all other nights we eat all vegetables, and on this night only bitter herbs.

On all other nights, we don’t dip our food even once, and on this night we dip twice.

On all other nights we eat sitting or reclining, and on this night we only recline.

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The Guardian plays crooked lawyer for the Palestinians

A few months ago we published an essay arguing that, in the event talks between the two parties break down and another is Intifada is initiated by Palestinian leaders, we can expect the Guardian to morally justify the violence.  

What we didn’t address at the time was our similar confidence that their editors, reporters and commentators would blame Israel for the break down in talks.

Sure enough, as talks have all but broken down (due to unilateral Palestinians acts hours before the Israeli government was set to approve an American brokered deal to extend talks to 2015), the Guardian published an official editorial which parrots the discredited claim that an Israeli announcement for new home tenders in east Jerusalem was the culprit.

Here are the relevant passages in the Guardian editorial (The Peace Bubble Bursts, April 11):

[Kerry's] determined concentration on peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians, his repeated trips to the Middle East, and many months of hard work by a small army of advisers, drafters and facilitators, have ended not in a bang but a whimper

The “poof” moment was Israel‘s announcement of permits to build 700 new homes for settlers in East Jerusalem, a clearly provocative move given the Palestinian demand for a halt, or at least a pause, in settlement activity, and their insistence that East Jerusalem should be the capital of a Palestinian state

Of course, the claim that an “announcement of permits to build [708] new homes for settlers in East Jerusalem” effectively ended the talks is not even remotely accurate. 

First, Israel never agreed to so much as curtail the construction of homes beyond the green line (in Jerusalem or the West Bank) in the initial agreement brokered by Kerry to begin talks last July. They agreed to release Palestinian prisoners, but made no such guarantees regarding ‘settlements’.

Second, the east Jerusalem homes were reportedly a reissue of an earlier pronouncement permitting these new apartments in Gilo to be built, which, as Adam Kredo noted, means “that the substance of the decree [on new homes in east Jerusalem] had not changed for months and had not [previously] been a roadblock to the peace talks”.  

Third, other such ‘settlement’ construction announcements during negotiations have been made by Israeli authorities without major incident – due, again, to the fact that Israel never agreed to curtail such activity – prior to the east Jerusalem tenders.  This includes a January announcement that tenders were released for the construction of 600 homes in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood in east Jerusalem.

Finally, it’s important to note that the 708 housing tenders were issued for Gilo, a neighborhood in Jerusalem which almost everyone (including the Palestinians) agrees will remain under Israeli control upon a final status agreement.  In fact, the Guardian should look back at their own reports of the leaked Palestinian notes during negotiations between Abbas and Olmert in 2008 (known as the Palestine Papers), where they confirmed that Palestinians leaders agreed that Gilo would remain Israeli.

Here’s a passage from a Jan 23, 2011 Guardian report by Seumas Milne and Ian Black:

The concession in May 2008 by Palestinian leaders to allow Israel to annex the settlements in East Jerusalemincluding Gilo, a focus of controversy after Israel gave the go-ahead for 1,400 new homes – has never been made public.

Here’s the map they published showing the Jerusalem neighborhoods in Jerusalem (in blue) which (Palestinians agreed) would be Israeli under the plan.  As you can see, the neighborhoods (beyond the green line) which Israel would retain include the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, East Talpiot, and Gilo.

mapsIn short, the Guardian’s risible suggestion that 708 housing tenders for Gilo caused the peace talks to fail does not represent the dispassionate analysis of ‘professional journalists’, but, rather, the deceit and sophistry of a crooked lawyer.

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CiF Watch prompts revision to Financial Times claim about Palestinian prisoners

On April 7, we posted about a shamefully propagandistic ‘analysis’ on the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks by their previous Associate Editor, David Gardner.  

The problems in Gardner’s article (pay wall) included a passage containing a toxic trope regarding ‘Jewish power’, a mischaracterization of Israel’s settlement freeze in 2010, an egregious distortion of the series of events leading to the current impasse between Abbas and Netanyahu, as well as a completely false claim seen in the following passage:

The [pre-Oslo] prisoners in question were supposed to have been released 20 years ago as part of the Oslo accords, at the high water mark for hopes that these two peoples could close a deal on sharing the Holy Land. They were not.

As we noted, this is flatly untrue.  

The pre-Oslo prisoners – scheduled for release under terms agreed upon last year to restart (and continue) negotiations – are all convicted of murder, attempted murder or being an accessory to murder, and there was no provision in the Oslo Accords requiring their release.   

Israel (per Annex VII of the agreement) agreed to release women, administrative detainees and minors, as well as elderly and sick prisoners, but stated quite clearly that they would not release “prisoners who killed Israeli citizens or were deemed likely to become involved in future acts of violence”, or otherwise had “blood on their hands”.  Additionally, “only members of organizations that had stopped supporting terrorism” would be considered for this amnesty.

Later, in a series of emails with editors at the Financial Times, they claimed that it was the Oslo 2 Accords that Gardner was referring to, and not Oslo 1.

However, as we noted in a subsequent email to editors, Oslo 2 (Article XVI, Confidence Building Measures) mentioned prisoners, but referred back to the language of the text in the original Oslo 1 Agreement, which (again) didn’t require Israel to release violent terrorists.

Following our last email with FT editors, they revised Gardner’s article and added this addendum:

corext

However, the change is completely inadequate.

Here’s the original:

orig

Now, here’s the slightly revised passage:

revised

The only change is that they added the modifier “some” to the original claim that “the prisoners in question were supposed to have been released…”.

However, as the language of the Oslo Accords cited above clearly indicates, NO violent terrorists (such as the pre-Oslo prisoners in question) were required to be released under the terms of either Oslo Agreement.

The Financial Times still has it wrong.

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Irish Times columnist ponders whether ‘rich Zionists’ control US foreign policy

We’ve previously written about Irish Times columnist Eamonn McCann, a Trotskyist activist and commentator who has employed the “chosen people” canard to suggest that Israeli attacks are arguably inspired by a belief in their own superiority, claimed that Zionism is racism and prophesized on the Jewish State’s ultimate demise.

In his April 10 Irish Times op-ed, the ‘truth telling’ radical expressed his disgust at Sheldon Adelson – or, more precisely, a recent episode involving New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in which the possible Presidential contender apologized to Adelson (a Republican donor) after giving a speech in which he referred to Judea and Samaria as ‘occupied territory’.

Here’s how McCann characterized the episode:

In a desperate effort to clamber his way back into the race for the Republican presidential nomination for 2016, New Jersey governor Chris Christie last week kowtowed to Zionism and apologised for telling the truth. 

Later, McCann wrote this in an attempt to contextualize Christie’s apology to Adelson:

There is a common view which this episode will reinforce that rich Zionists have captured US policy on the Middle East and use their financial clout to deliver uncritical support from the political elite for Israeli outrages against dispossessed Palestinians. There may be truth in this, but not the whole truth.

First, McCann fails to explain how the charge that “rich Zionists have captured US policy” is “not the whole truth”.  

Moreover, Adelson is Jewish, and it seems undeniable, given the context (as well as McCann’s previous expressions of contempt for ‘Zionists), that “rich Zionists” is a thinly veiled euphemism for “rich Jews’.  

Of course, saying outright that ‘rich Jews control the US government’ would represent the babbling of an anti-Semite.

And, we all know that editors at the Irish Times would never, ever allow such crude bigotry on the pages of their ‘progressive’ newspaper, don’t we?

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Guardian covers tabloid scandal about Bibi’s wife; ignores Gaza terror attacks

In 2005 Israel evacuated every Jew from Gaza, an act which provided Palestinians in the coastal strip a chance to have an independent polity free of foreign interference for the first time in history.  

In 2006, despite assurances from the ‘international community’ that the absence of an Israeli military and ‘settler’ presence would moderate the Palestinian electorate in Gaza, a plurality of Gazans voted for Hamas – an extremist group committed to the annihilation of Israel and the murder of Jews.  Hamas has run the territory without political opposition since their violent purge of Fatah in 2007.  

Since 2006, and despite the absence of Israeli occupation, over 8,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israeli towns.  Or, to put it more accurately, there have been 8,000 individual attempts to murder innocent Israelis since that time. 

To those who don’t understand why many Israelis are reluctant to cede more land to the Palestinians without sufficient and sustainable security guarantees that aren’t dependent on the good will of Palestinian leaders or the casual ‘assurances’ of Western governments, the answer can be culled from the results of this real-life ‘land for peace’ experiment.  In short, though most Israelis strongly support, in principle, a two-state solution, most wearily expect that the new Palestinian state will quickly devolve into either failed state or, more likely, a terror state.

The reason why this blog focuses at times on the Guardian’s failure to report terror attacks from Gaza (and the West Bank), is that such an egregious failure to report the full story about the conflict allows their readers to lazily dismiss Israel’s insistence on defensible borders. This security doctrine is based on past wars and terror attacks, as well as the current reality of terrorist enemies on their borders (Hezbollah and Hamas) who are in possession of a combined arsenal of up to 170,000 (increasingly sophisticated and accurate) rockets and missiles.

So, for instance, the Guardian has failed to publish even one stand-alone article  (by their regional reporters) on any of the 100 plus rocket attacks from Gaza since January, 2014.  (The only minor exception pertains to two AFP stories (not written by Guardian staff) which characteristically focused on Israel’s response to rocket attacks.)

Here are the headlines of the two AFP reports which even mentioned Gaza rocket attacks. (Note the ‘tit for tat’ narrative, and emphasis on Israel’s response to the Gaza rockets):

AFP/Guardian story, March 3:

march 3AFP/Guardian story, March 13:

March 13

 Though their regional correspondents evidently didn’t find scores of deadly projectile fired at Israeli civilian targets newsworthy, they did, however, find time to pen two articles on complaints by former employees of the Netanyahus (a maid and a household assistant) about alleged unfair treatment by the prime minister’s wife, Sara.

Here’s a January 17 report by Rory McCarthy:

jan 17

Here’s an April 9 report by the Guardian’s new Jerusalem correspondent, Peter Beaumont:

april 9

 ‘Shocking’ details in the Jan. 17 report, included the following:

Peretz [the former maid] worked in the Netanyahu family home, in Caesarea, for six years. In the lawsuit she reportedly claimed that the prime minister’s wife, a psychologist, denied her basic social benefits and shouted at her for not following rules. Among the rules was allegedly the instruction that the employer be addressed only as “Mrs Sara Netanyahu,” following her husband becoming prime minister last spring.

Peter Beaumont’s story including even more ‘explosive’ charges:

He alleges that on another occasion Mrs Netanyahu woke him at 3am to complain that he had bought milk in bags rather than cartons. “When I complained about the time and the tone in which she spoke the harsh words to me, Mr Netanyahu interfered in the discussion and said I should do everything Mrs Netanyahu asked ‘so she will calm down’,” Naftali claims.

To put the Guardian’s priorities in some perspective, here are stats comparing their coverage of over 100 rockets attacks (100 individual Palestinian war crimes) vs their coverage of complaints against the prime minister’s wife by two former employees:

  • Guardian stories covering Sara Netanyahu’s alleged mistreatment of two employees: 2
  • Number of words in two Guardian reports on Sara Netanyahu’s alleged mistreatment of two employees: 1228
  • Guardian stories primarily devoted to terrorist attacks from Gaza: 0
  • Number of words devoted to Gaza rocket attacks on Israel within two broader Guardian/AFP reports (which focused on the general ‘tit for tat’ attacks between Gaza and Israel): 110

In case you were wondering, the latest illegal attack on Israeli civilians by the terrorists in control of Gaza (not reported by the Guardian) occurred on April 9, the very day the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent published the latest installment of L’Affair Sara.

Such contrasting priorities, which place greater emphasis on gossip about the Israeli prime minister’s wife than on deadly projectiles fired at innocent Israeli men, women and children, explains quite a bit about British misconceptions on the root cause of the conflict, and the main impediments to its resolution. 

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Does the Guardian object to Bob Carr’s antisemitic insinuation?

The charge that ‘Jewish money’ corrupts politics in Western countries is certainly nothing new, but we continue to marvel at the evolution - as this blog has observed on many occasions - by which such Judeophobic narratives about the injurious influence of Jews typically associated with the far-right are increasingly fashionable amongst commentators claiming a progressive orientation.

There was a good illustration of this disturbing trend in excerpts of new autobiography by Bob Carr, the former Australian foreign minister, as reported by the political editor of Guardian Australia Lenore Taylor.  The article, published on April 9, included the following passages:

Bob Carr: Diary of a Foreign Minister includes a detailed account of a period in October and November 2012 when Carr campaigned against [Prime Minister] Gillard’s insistence that Australia should support Israel and vote against Palestinian observer status in the United Nations.

The bitter fight became entwined in the leadership tensions that were reaching a crescendo at the time.

As it reached its height, he describes [former Prime Minister] Kevin Rudd arriving at his parliament house office “purse-lipped, choirboy hair, speaking in that sinister monotone. A chilling monotone”.

Rudd’s had a “morbid interest” in the issue which had the potential to impact both on Australia’s fate in the upcoming vote for a seat on the UN security council and on his own chances to return to the prime ministership.

How much of this is about money, I asked him,” Carr writes. “He said about one-fifth of the money he had raised in the 2007 election campaign had come from the Jewish community.”

Carr concludes that “subcontracting our foreign policy to party donors is what this involves. Or appears to involve.”

First, it’s important to note that Australia ended up voting to ‘abstain’ from the UN vote on ‘Palestine’, rather than voting ‘no’ as the U.S. and Israel was reportedly lobbying them to do.  So, if, as Carr suggests, the government’s decision on the ‘Palestine’ vote in the UN was indeed dictated by Jewish donations, why did they choose the course of action opposed by Israel and the Jewish community?

Further, Gillard’s tenure as prime minister was widely seen as a shift away from the staunchly pro-Israel policies of the government under prime minister John Howard, which governed the country for 11 years prior to Labor’s victory in 2007.  So, again, if money from Australian Jews dictated the government’s policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, why didn’t Gillard continue with the policies of her predecessor? 

However, putting aside the specious reasoning behind Carr’s imputation of Jewish influence in Australian politics aside, it’s quite interesting how the Guardian framed the story.   Here’s the headline and strap line to Taylor’s article:

headline

The strap line text is curious in that it frames Carr’s accusation (per the reasonably accurate headline) as ‘casting light‘ on the government’s alleged support for Israel – a term referring to something which provides an explanation for a phenomena or makes it easier to understand. 

Additionally, there’s nothing in the passages in Taylor’s report following Carr’s quote which would suggest that his accusation was at all problematic, controversial or tinged with bigotry.

To be fair, it’s far less than clear how Taylor interpreted Carr’s remark.  

However, it is indisputable that narratives suggesting the money and influence of Jewish or pro-Israel groups undermine the foreign policy of democratic countries is something akin to conventional wisdom within a segment of the U.S. and European Left.  And, it’s fair to conclude that – for most within the Guardian-Left political milieu – Carr’s words would likely represent ‘important insight’ into the root cause of the putatively pro-Israel bias in the West.

Guardian book review includes throw-away line about Israeli ‘ethnic cleansing’

Though we haven’t read the book by Arun Kundnani (a Soros Fellow who’s appeared at events sponsored by the Khomeinist Islamic Human Rights Commission) titled ‘The Muslims Are Coming!‘, A Guardian review by Robin Yassin-Kassab suggests it comports perfectly with the Glenn Greenwald - Guardian Left view that Islamist terror isn’t caused by radical ideologies, but by legitimate grievances against Western foreign policy. 

However, in addition to the author’s passionate endorsement of even the most risible excuses for extremism, there was this characteristic swipe at Israel.

Culturalism’s best-known proponent is Bernard LewisDick Cheney‘s favourite historian, who locates the problem as Islam itself, a totalitarian ideology-culture incompatible with democratic modernity. So Mitt Romney explains the vast divergence between Israeli and Palestinian economies thus: “Culture makes all the difference” – and decades of occupation, ethnic cleansing and war make no difference at all

Without revisiting the quote by the former U.S. presidential candidate, it’s important to note the causal manner in which Yassin-Kassab charges Israel with “ethnic cleansing” – an accusation, as we’ve noted previously, that has absolutely no basis in reality, and can be easily refuted by a few population statistics.

  • The Palestinian population in the West Bank increased from 462,000 in 1949 to more than 2.5 million today.
  • The Palestinian population in Gaza increased from 82,000 in 1948 to more than 1.7 million today.

Additionally, to add further context:

  •  The Jewish population in the Arab Middle East has decreased from over 850,000 in 1948 to less than 5,000 today.

So, while the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza has increased over 700 percent since Israel’s establishment, the Jewish population in the Arab Middle East has decreased by 99 percent – dry data which demonstrates that though Arab governments have quite ‘successfully’ ethnically cleansed their Jewish citizens, Zionists remain the most ‘incompetent’ ethnic cleansers on the planet.

The Guardian inflates the number of Palestinian refugees by 4,970,000

The Palestinian “refugee” problem is an issue this blog has explored on quite a few occasions, often in the context of pointing out UK media errors relating to the true number of actual refugees.

A case in point is a long article published on April 6 in The Observer (sister site of the Guardian) by incoming Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont, titled ‘Middle East: does either side have the will to strive for peace?.  Though the nearly 2,000 word article is largely unproblematic, the print version included the following graphic which includes extremely inflated figures on “refugees”:

refugees

First, the wording of the passage (underlined in red) on “refugees” is quite confusing, as the words “5 million refugees and their descendants” could be understood as implying that there are ’5 million Palestinian refugees’ from 1948, PLUS an additional number of descendants.  

Alternately, it could be an attempt to acknowledge that not all of the “5 million” Palestinians who are regarded as refugees (per UNRWA’s bizarre formula) are actually refugees, but, rather, are the descendants of the original (unstated number of) refugees.  However, even assuming it’s the latter, this is extremely misleading, since readers would likely never imagine that there are only 30,000 or so actual Palestinian refugees from the 1948 War (out of the original 711,000) still alive – or less than 1 percent of the ’5 million’ figure cited.

As we’ve noted previously, the 5 million figure (used by UNRWA) includes the children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren (ad infinitum) of Palestinian Arabs who may have once lived somewhere in Mandate Palestine, and includes even those who are citizens of other Arab countries (such as Jordan or Lebanon) as “refugees”.

Though such egregious distortions about the actual number of Palestinian refugees are ubiquitous throughout the UK media, we had at least one notable success when we prompted a correction last August in The Telegraph to a passage mirroring the language used by The Observer cited above.  After a series of communications with Telegraph editors, they agreed with our argument and our figures, and revised the original passage (which you can see here) thusly:

corex

Emphasis added

Even this passage isn’t perfect, because it fails to note how many Palestinian refugees from the 1948 War (of the original 700,000 or so) are actually still alive, but, in comparison to the Guardian, it at least represents an attempt to accurately represent this widely misunderstood issue. 

h/t Izzy

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Financial Times or Electronic Intifada? ‘Serious’ UK paper descends to agitprop

The blurring of ‘professional’ journalism with political advocacy was on full display recently in a “serious” journal known as the Financial Times - the British equivalent of the U.S.-based Wall Street Journal, which largely focuses on international business and economic news.  The April 3 report by David Gardner descends to hyperbole in the very strap line of the story by employing a trope – suggesting that Israel controls the United States – often used by those who claim a decidedly more extremist political pedigree.

strap line

In the second paragraph of the report, Gardner attempts to explain the reason for the current impasse in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians:

The ostensible new roadblock concerns prisoners. Mahmoud Abbas, president of the interim Palestinian Authority, came back to the negotiating table even though Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, refused yet again to freeze settlement building, thus allowing Israel to continue eating up the shrinking territory over which the Palestinians are negotiating to eventually build their state.

It’s important to remember that Abbas previously refused to talk to Netanyahu about peace for the first nine months of a ten-month settlement freeze instituted by the Israeli prime minister in November 2009. Additionally, as almost all new ‘settlement’ construction in recent years has taken place within existing settlement boundaries, it’s extraordinarly misleading to characterize such construction as “eating up the shrinking territory”.

Gardner continues:

Mr Abbas, seen by admirers as a moderate and by critics as a quisling, has abjured radical siren calls for resistance in favour of a negotiated solution. He has nothing to show his people. He looks weak and discredited.

First, “radical siren calls for resistance” is of course a euphemism for violent attacks against Israeli civilians – and Gardner seems to be suggesting that mere absence of an organized intifada suggests that the Palestinian leader is somehow a moderate. (Quisling, by the way, is a term used to demonize political leaders who betray their own country by aiding an ‘invading enemy’, referring to Vidkun Quisling, the pro-Nazi Norwegian leader.)

Then, Gardner proceeds to completely mischaracterize the reason for the impasse.

To offset this, Israel was persuaded to release 104 Palestinian long-term prisoners. The Netanyahu government’s refusal to hand over the last batch on the due date precipitated the current crisis. In retaliation, Mr Abbas this week signed articles of accession to 15 multilateral treaties, investing Palestine with some of the international attributes of a state – which he had promised the US to defer while negotiations continued

This is flatly untrue. The prisoner release was always meant to serve as an incentive to keep Palestinians talking.  The crisis began when Abbas refused to commit to extending the April 29 deadline, even after the last round of prisoners were to be released.  However, a tentative deal, brokered by the US, was reportedly agreed to by both parties to keep the talks going through 2015 – which included the release of the final 26 prisoners along with an additional 400 other prisoners, as well as a curb on settlement construction in the West Bank.  

The Israeli government was reportedly only hours away from agreeing to the terms of the deal to extend talks when Abbas announced the move to join 15 international conventions and treaties – in violation of his agreement when talks began to avoid such unilateral steps – thus effectively sabotaging the agreement.

Gardner’s claim that “Abbas this week signed articles of accession to 15 multilateral treaties” in “retaliation” for Netanyahu’s “refusal to hand over the last batch” of prisoners represents an egregious distortion of the sequence of events.  Netanyahu’s government temporarily delayed the release of the 26 prisoners in order to first get a commitment from the Palestinians to continue the peace talks past the April 29 deadline.  If Abbas hadn’t initiated his unilateral move, the 26 prisoners were almost certainly going to be released.

Gardner continues:

The prisoners in question were supposed to have been released 20 years ago as part of the Oslo accords, at the high water mark for hopes that these two peoples could close a deal on sharing the Holy Land. They were not.

This is not true.  The pre-Oslo prisoners are all convicted of murder, attempted murder or being an accessory to murder and there was no provision of the Oslo Accords requiring their release.  Israel only agreed to free 4,000 Palestinian prisoners (women, administrative detainees and minors, as well as elderly and sick prisoners), and stated quite clearly that they would not release “prisoners who killed Israeli citizens or were deemed likely to become involved in future acts of violence”.

Here’s the text of the relevant agreement from 1995, as published on an official Palestinian website

prisoners

Then, to demonstrate Israel’s “pattern of the US consistently over-rewarding a recalcitrant ally, as well as being snubbed by Israel for its pains”, Gardner makes the following claim:

In 2009, for example, it was Mr Obama who blinked when Mr Netanyahu simply refused to halt colonisation of Palestinian land. Instead, in 2010, the US president offered Israel the Jordan Valley – a big chunk of the occupied West Bank that is not his to give – in return for a short pause in settlement building. Mr Netanyahu, in any event, refused.

Again, this is a complete fabrication.

Nobody disputes that, at Obama’s urging in 2009, Israel agreed to a 10-month construction freeze on new homes in the West Bank.  The curb in construction can be demonstrated by housing statistics for the year in question.   It’s possible Gardner is referring to an incentive offered by Obama to Netanyahu to extend the 10-month freeze by another 2 months in exchange for the President’s support, in principle, to Israel retaining some sort of military presence in the Jordan Valley in the context of a final peace deal, but to write that Obama “offered Israel the Jordan Valley”, which implies that ‘settlements’ in that area would be retained by Israel, is highly misleading.

Then, following a passage which repeats the “Israeli tail wagging the US dog” claim from the strap line, Gardner adds:

Far from pushing Israel to roll back the occupation enough to enable Palestinians to build a viable state on the occupied West Bank and Gaza, with Arab East Jerusalem as its capital, it looks as though the US is planning to hand Israel almost all the settlement blocs, about three-quarters of East Jerusalem, and the Jordan Valley

First, Gaza isn’t on the table as there is a political division between Hamas and Fatah, the former (which controls the strip) refuses to agree to negotiation or recognize Israel under any circumstances.  Second, the US isn’t handing Israel anything, as responsibility for an agreement rests in the hands of both parties.  Additionally, as negotiations haven’t even come close to concluding, it’s impossible to know for sure what the final map would look like.  And, again, the US isn’t offering Israel the Jordan Valley. 

Gardner continues:

In addition, the Palestinians are being pressed to recognise Israel as a Jewish state – rather than, as they have long since done, recognise the state of Israel and its right to exist. Agreement to that could compromise a negotiated deal on the future of nearly 5m Palestinian refugees, prejudice the position of that fifth of the population of Israel proper that is Palestinian Arab by origin, as well as require Palestinians to repudiate their history.

By arguing that the demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people (a requirement by Israeli leaders going back to Sharon) “could compromise a negotiated deal on the future of nearly 5m Palestinian refugees” (a number corresponding to the number of Palestinians recognized by UNRWA as “refugees”, not the number of actual refugees, which is closer to 30,000) he’s implicitly endorsing the unlimited right of return, a concept which will Israel will never agree to as it is a thinly veiled way to achieve a one-state solution.

Naturally, Gardner doesn’t mention that Abbas – during his recent meeting with Obama – not only refused to compromise on the ‘right of return’ and mutual recognition, but also reportedly refused to commit to an ‘end of conflict’ proviso, “under which a peace deal would represent the termination of any further Palestinian demands of Israel”.

Gardner ends by warning Israel that failing to compromise with the Palestinians “will chip away at Israel’s hard-won legitimacy”, but it is such intellectually dishonest pro-Palestinian propaganda parading as journalism which chips away at the veneer of his professional credibility.

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Harriet Sherwood wants Israeli Jews to feel the ‘pain’ of exclusion

A few hours before the Israeli government was set to approve a new deal with the Palestinians to extend peace talks till 2015 – which involved the release of the final batch of pre-Oslo prisoners,  hundreds of additional prisoners and a partial curb in construction beyond the green line – the Palestinians signed letters seeking acceptance to 15 UN treaties and conventions, reneging on their agreement of July 2013 to refrain from making unilateral moves. 

The last-minute breakdown throws the possibility that talks will proceed past the April 29 deadline into serious doubt, and was followed by additional Palestinian demands. These include Israeli recognition of the pre-1967 lines with east Jerusalem as its capital, the release of 1,200 more prisoners (including Marwan Barghouti), a complete cessation of settlement construction, the imposition of PA sovereignty over Area C, a halt to Israeli anti-terror operations in PA-controlled territories, and a lifting the arms blockade on Gaza.

Anyone who’s been closely following negotiations would understand that Palestinians were counting down the days until the April 29 deadline when they would be free to execute what Jerusalem Post correspondent Herb Kenion refers to as their Plan B – waging diplomatic warfare against Israel to isolate it, delegitimize it, and eventually force it through international pressure to give in to their maximalist demands.

Such a plan of political warfare is largely inspired by what’s known as the Durban Strategy, a declaration adopted in the 2001 NGO Forum of the UN’s Durban conference. The Durban campaign – itself the political successor to the Arab boycott launched in 1945, three years before Israeli statehood – featured numerous expressions of antisemitism, focused on labeling Israel an ‘apartheid state’ guilty of ‘ethnic cleansing’, ‘genocide’, and ‘war crimes’”, and adopted a resolution calling for the “complete and total isolation of Israel…the imposition of mandatory and comprehensive sanctions and embargoes, [and] the full cessation of all links between all states and Israel.”  

What’s known today as the modern BDS movement – which singles out the Jewish state, alone among the family of nations, for a coordinated campaign of boycotts, sanctions, divestment and social exclusion – was essentially born on that day.

Though the Guardian’s coverage of the region has consistently legitimized, amplified and provided succor the BDS movement, an op-ed published at ‘Comment is Fee’ (A boycott can jolt Israelis from their somnolence on Palestine, April 4) explicitly endorsing BDS was noteworthy in that it wasn’t written by an anti-Zionist activist, but rather by one of their ‘serious journalists’ – their outgoing Jerusalem correspondent Harriet Sherwood.

To those of us familiar with Sherwood’s brand of activist journalism, it is not at all surprising that she has expressed her support for BDS, nor that – despite glaring evidence attesting to Palestinian refusal to budge on vital topics such as the long-term final agreement issues of refugees, mutual recognition, or even the demand that a final peace agreement include an end to all Palestinian claims against Israel – would be ignored.

What largely stands out in her polemical attack is the contempt she seems to possess for average Israelis.  While she has eloquently expressed her affection for Palestinians, Israeli Jews – even after all this time in the country - clearly seem to stand beyond the limits of her imaginative sympathy. 

The op-ed – illustrated with photo of privileged Israelis “soaking up the sun on a Tel Aviv beach”, oblivious to “the daily grind experienced by more than 4 million Palestinians” – begins by citing a few recent BDS victories before contending that BDS, in protest of its “47-year occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza”, is gathering steam.  Sherwood repeats a quote by Israel’s prime minister which attacked Europe and its “dark history” and demanded that “the boycotters must be exposed for what they are… classical antisemites in modern garb”, to which the Guardian journalist responds:

“This is a serious charge, and one that causes deep discomfort to many who want to bring pressure to bear on the Israeli government over its policies towards the Palestinians, but who also vigorously oppose antisemitism in any form. Opposing the occupation does not equate to antisemitism or a rejection of Jews’ right to, and need for, a homeland. The repeated accusation of antisemitism does not make it true, however frequently it is leveled by those who defend Israel unconditionally.”

Of course, Sherwood – who has never, in nearly four years of covering the region, addressed the issue of the extreme (and quite real) expressions of Judeophobia within Palestinian society – fails to explain why precisely the “accusations of antisemitism” against boycott advocates who often defend Palestinians unconditionally, are unfair.  And, though she draws a distinction between BDS advocates who merely support boycotting ‘settlement’ goods and those who call for a complete boycott of the state, she doesn’t acknowledge that those who support the latter approach largely reject the right of the state to exist within any borders.

Finally, Sherwood writes about the increasing frustration felt “by Israel’s intransigence…and the failure of the international community to back up critical words with meaningful actions”, before concluding that “only when Israeli citizens and institutions feel the consequences of their government’s policies will they force change from within”.  She argues that Israelis are “shielded from the [daily grind] of occupation”, before reaching the conclusion that “economic pain, isolation and global opprobrium” will surely force Israelis “to take notice”.

First, like so many journalists covering the conflict, Sherwood seems to take as a given the benign nature of Palestinian intentions despite so much evidence to the contrary, and doesn’t acknowledge that Israelis overwhelmingly support two-states for two peoples while refusing to ignore the failure of previous ‘land for peace’ guarantees and, therefore, remaining skeptical that the creation of a Palestinian state will actually bring peace.

More pertinent to the theme in Sherwood’s op-ed, Israelis – and most Jews around the world – indeed view current calls to exclude Israeli Jews from the international community in the context of the dark history of such measures.  Such Jews naturally question the motivation of sophisticated (putatively progressive) Europeans who see the unimaginable violence and brutality meted out to Arabs by other Arabs in the Middle East – which includes the systemic violation of the rights of women, gays and political dissidents, and (in some cases) industrial-scale killing and torture – and yet believe that the only country whose citizens deserve to be boycotted just so happens to be the only one with a Jewish majority.

The duplicity of pro-Palestinian activists is represented not merely by the manner in which they gain support from the liberal-left despite the decidedly illiberal nature of the Palestinian national movement, nor the way they promote an understanding of the dispute which conflates cause (the more than 70 year Arab war against the Jewish state) with effect (the territorial dispute which only came about as the result of that war).  No; their supreme deceit relates to how they manage to convince so many within the opinion elite that – unlike every other time in history - this time those campaigning for the exclusion of Jewish professionals, academics and artists are morally justified; that this time a small community of Jews can truly represent an organic obstacle to peace and progress; that this time it truly is malevolent Jewish behavior that brings about measures singling out Jews for opprobrium and sanction.

However, though many Zionists are secular, most thankfully are imbued with a rich and edifying tradition which explains that ‘What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; and there is nothing new under the sun’.  Try as they may, no degree of sophistry employed by boycott proponents can possibly convince us to accept the supremacy of the au courant morality over the ethics of our fathers, to not see this latest political attack through the lens of Jewish history, nor to avoid reaching the conclusion that - as in every generation – resistance to their assault will be fierce and, in time, succeed.

‘This too shall pass’. 

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The Economist falsely suggests that exports from Gaza are banned.

The Economist’s Middle East blog, Pomegranate, published a post on April 2 about the art scene in Gaza, titled ‘Not so bleak, which included the following closing passages:

Hamas now keeps its hands off the enclave’s burgeoning arts scene. “In the first years it banned exhibitions,” says Mr Haj. “Now it stages its own…There’s a kind of a glasnost.” Purists in the religious-endowments ministries stayed away. But the Hamas culture minister issued a licence, offering moral but not financial support and apologising that his $10,000 budget for such projects could not cover the show.

The interior ministry did summon an artist, but only to inquire menacingly how he had managed to exhibit a painting in Israel. “I sent it by e-mail,” came the reply. Selling the originals is trickier, since exports from Gaza are still banned.

First, it should be pointed out that there is nothing prohibiting the Palestinian artist in Gaza from sending the original painting to Israel, as there is regular postal service between the two territories. Moreover, The Economist blogger’s suggestion that ‘exports from Gaza are banned’ is flatly untrue.

The following graph published by Gisha – an NGO whose mission is to “protect the freedom of movement of Palestinians, especially Gaza residents” – illustrates the number of truckloads of goods exiting Gaza for export (to the U.S., Europe and the Arab world).

gisha graphic

As you can see, though the quantity of trucks leaving the strip for export varies dramatically depending on the month, there is clearly no ban on exports, as The Economist seems to claim.  

Additionally, according to COGAT (the Israel Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories), from the beginning of 2012 through July 2013 over 850 tons of fruits, vegetables, flowers and spices were exported abroad from Gaza. 

tut

Strawberries prepared for export from Gaza

In fact, it appears that there are few limits imposed by Israel on the quantity of consumer goods Gaza can export to foreign markets (outside of Israel and the West Bank), so it’s unclear how The Economist contributor – who only goes by the initials N.P. – arrived at the conclusion that ‘exports are (still) banned’.

 

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Following CiF Watch post, Guardian corrects false claim in Peter Beaumont report

Roughly two hours ago (11:00 Israeli time), we posted about an April 2 report by the Guardian’s incoming Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont which falsely claimed that Israel’s reluctance to release the final 26 pre-Oslo Palestinian prisoners was due to Netanyahu’s demand that the Palestinians first recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

We noted that this claim was contradicted not only by every other MSM report we were able to find, but by Beaumont himself.

Here is Beaumont’s claim in the April 2 report:

2

Now, here’s a passage from a report by Beaumont on March 31, dealing with the same topic:

1

As we noted, both can’t be correct.

CiF Watch (and another media watchdog group) contacted Guardian editors shortly after our post was published, requesting a correction, and (though we haven’t received a reply yet from the paper) we noticed that (at roughly 12:45 Israeli time) the report was corrected.  

Here’s the addendum at the bottom of the article:

corex

UPDATE at 2:30: Guardian editors contacted us to explain that the error (per the addendum above) had been rectified.

 

 

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Peter Beaumont vs Peter Beaumont: Guardian journo contradicts himself on prisoner release

In ‘Middle East peace talks edge towards collapse despite Kerry’s frantic efforts, Guardian, April 2, the newspaper’s incoming Jerusalem correspondent writes the following about the collapsing ‘peace process’.

Eight months ago, Netanyahu signed a US-sponsored agreement to release 104 long-term Palestinian prisoners in a quid pro quo that would block the Palestinian application to membership of a raft of UN bodies in exchange for talks. But despite the agreement, Netanyahu has refused to release the fourth group of prisoners unless the Palestinian Authority recognises Israel as a Jewish state.

This is flat-out untrue.

The Jewish state recognition demand is a separate issue, was voiced prior to the current crisis about the release of the final batch of pre-Oslo prisoners and has never been cited as a factor why Israel is reluctant to release the remaining 26 Palestinians.

As reported by media sites across the political spectrum, Israeli negotiators have only demanded that – for the prisoner release to go ahead – Palestinians must at least agree to extend talks past the April 29 deadline, and have asked why they should release these prisoners when (immediately following their release) Palestinians will likely decide to end the talks.

Interestingly, three days prior to his April 2 story, Peter Beaumont himself acknowledged that the fear of Palestinians walking away from talks was the reason for Israel’s hesitation over the final prisoner release.

In his report on March 31, he wrote the following:

The Israeli government has said it is unwilling to go ahead with the latest prisoner release until it has a commitment from Abbas to extend this phase of the negotiations. On Sunday the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, said the talks were “verging on a crisis”.

Just to make it easier, here are snapshots of the competing Peter Beaumont passages.

Beaumont, March 31:

1

Beaumont, April 2:

2

Which one is it, Peter?

 

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Stealth ‘corrections’ at the Indy in Mira Bar-Hillel’s confessional about Olmert

A couple of hours ago we posted about an op-ed by Mira Bar-Hillel, titled ‘I dated Ehud Olmert once. His ambition stood out, but the corruption was yet to come‘, which included two errors:

First, she got the date of Ariel Sharon’s coma wrong.

More significantly, Bar-Hillel greatly inflated the casualty figures from the 2008-09 war in Gaza.  Here’s the original passage:

he [Olmert] ordered the molten lead attack on Gaza in December 2008, which again left over 1,000 Palestinian civilians dead, 

As we noted, even B’tselem (the NGO which has one of the highest casualty tallies) didn’t claim that the three-week conflict between Israel and Hamas “left over 1,000 Palestinian civilians dead”.  While other sources (including, quite tellingly, Hamas) place the civilian casualty figures dramatically lower, B’tselem has claimed that 773 of the 1387 Palestinians killed “did not take part in hostilities”.

Shortly after contacting Indy editors and alerting them to the errors, we noticed two changes:

First, the date of Sharon’s coma was corrected.

However, though there was a second change, it was not at all sufficient.  They merely changed this…

Two years later, he ordered the molten lead attack on Gaza in December 2008, which again left over 1,000 Palestinian civilians dead… 

to this:

Two years later he ordered the molten lead attack on Gaza in December 2008, which again left nearly 1,000 Palestinian civilians dead..

So, do they accept B’tselem’s figures, or don’t they? If they do, then are we to believe that 773 is “nearly 1000″?

Finally, it’s important to note that though newspaper editors (at the Guardian and elsewhere) who respond positively to our correction requests typically explain the revision or acknowledge it somewhere on their site, the changes to Bar-Hillel’s op-ed were not acknowledged or explained via an email, nor noted by Indy editors anywhere on the page.

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