Is there really any difference between Jenny Tonge and Salma Yaqoob?

A couple of months ago Jenny Tonge caused a firestorm after she publicly stated during an anti-Israel diatribe “Israel is not going to be there forever in its present performance”.  Rejecting an ultimatum from Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, to apologize for her remarks Tonge was forced to resign from the Liberal Democrats and give up the party whip.

Commenting on Tonge’s remarks, Robert Halfon, MP opined

“Baroness Tonge has an appalling record of strong anti-Israel rhetoric. Too often, these remarks carry an offensive anti-Semitic tone. The Liberal Democrat whip should be withdrawn immediately, and she should withdraw her remarks.”

Enter Salma Yaqoob, hailed by the Guardian as “the most prominent Muslim woman in British public life”.

Yaqoob, leader of the Respect Party and former Birmingham city councilor, is known for her Islamist leanings having called the 7/7 London bombings “reprisal attacks”. According to Harry’s Place:

[H]er connections with Islamist extremism go back far further than her association with RESPECT. She was part of the campaign team which supported the family of Abu Hamza, who were caught while taking part in jihadist training in Yemen. Most disgracefully, she wrote an article in Inayat Bunglawala’s “Trends” magazine, which imagined Britain becoming an Islamic Republic, from which Salman Rushdie was depicted fleeing for his life.

Salma Yaqoob (right) endorsing Ben "I can understand why some are antisemitic" White's book Israel Apartheid for Beginners

It should come as no surprise then that Yaqoob holds a special place in her heart for Israel. She attended a protest together with Richard Burden, MP, in which the Israeli flag was burnt. On her personal blog, she lovingly refers to the IHH terrorists on board the Mavi Marmara as martyrs, campaigned for the release of Sheikh Raed Salah, endorsed the closure of the Israeli embassy in London, and supported the pro-Hamas Viva Palestina convoy while on Twitter she participated in the campaign to release Palestinian Islamic Jihad spokesperson, Khader Adnan.

In the spirit of Norman Finkelstein, in an article published in the Guardian (but where else!) she accused “Zionists [of abusing] the memory of the Holocaust to bolster support for today’s Israeli state.” And as can be seen from this article she is a staunch supporter of the BDS movement and the antisemitic Israel apartheid trope.

Which is all by way of introduction to this video filmed in 2010 that places everything neatly in context.

Around the 1 minute mark you can hear Yaqoob saying the following:

“[J]ust as South Africa now is liberated. Just as the bankrupt apartheid regime was exposed, was exposed to a world of the solidarity of world citizens [sic] was dismantled, so too the days of this racist apartheid regime are numbered.” [emphasis added]

Calling into question the existence of and willing the end of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people is abhorrent, offensive and yes antisemitic.

So I ask the question: is there really any difference between what Jenny Tonge  and Salma Yaqoob said?

Perhaps Yaqoob should ponder this next time she openly threatens CiF Watch on twitter for expressing our First Amendment rights of free speech.

Update 1

On Twitter, Yaqoob is claiming that she referred to the fact that 7/7 bomber claimed it as a reprisal attack and that she condemned the bombings unreservedly.

Update 2

On Twitter, Yaqoob claims that the Trends article was a satirical parody. She’s strangely silent about the substance of the post – namely the similarity of her statement to that of Jenny Tonge!

Update 3

More hate speech from Salma Yaqoob, this time on Twitter:

Salma Yaqoob Hate Speech Tweet

Update 4

Yaqoob is resolute about standing behind her comments a la Jenny Tonge as evidenced by this retweet:


Update 5

This retweet from Salma Yaqoob is priceless:

Update 6

Note how Salma Yaqoob accuses us of trolling and smearing in the following two tweets:

And then she retweets this:

Harriet Sherwood: A Tool of Avaaz Astroturfing Campaign?

Earlier this week we reported that Harriet Sherwood published a story suggesting that there was widespread support for the creation of a Palestinian state in Europe in the lead up to next week’s UN General Assembly vote on Palestinian statehood.

The basis for Sherwood’s article was findings of a survey conducted on behalf of the advocacy group Avaaz which has been actively campaigning  for UN recognition of Palestine. In our post, we cast doubt on the veracity of this poll based on the prior track record of Avaaz polling and quoted from an article by Daniel Greenfield who had similar reservations about Avaaz.

Since then, an article by Dr. Andrew Oboler on astroturfing – the manufacture of fake “grassroots” campaign – as it relates to the Avaaz campaign has been brought to my attention. In it Dr. Oboler had serious reservations with respect to the veracity of the numbers of visitors to the site that Avaaz had been touting.

The campaign does have one serious drawback, and this the numbers… they simply don’t add up. When I look a few days ago the page said it had been visited 609,437 times and the petition had been signed 868,279 times. If the petition was first released through this page those numbers are actually impossible. One logical explanation is that this same petition was originally on another page. Indeed it was, but back then it was directed to specific members of the security council. That campaign was a dismal failure, so Avaaz moved the goal posts and recycled the petition and signatures, now addressing it to all UN members. The current page does not disclose this reuse. Honesty is a critical component in any grassroots campaign, without it the grassroots can quickly turn on you.

Even given this initial boost to the petition, the numbers still don’t add up. The video is hosted on YouTube, which maintains its own stats. Given the video runs automatically when the page loads, the increase in page views should be matched by an increase in YouTube’s own count of video views. One qualification is that YouTube only counts unique views. The page, by contrast, may increase its viewer count each time it is loaded, leading to a much higher count as one person may reload the page many times. If this is the case, YouTube’s count is a more meaningful measure. The popular myth that auto playing videos do not count is apparently just that… a myth. Even so, over a five day period, 296,232 new page views appear to have only resulted in 30,828 additional signatures and 4,601 additional video views. 

While there may be a logical explanation for the varying numerical data the site displays, the bottom line is that the numbers don’t add up. The conversion rate is rapidly dropping. This is not a rapidly growing viral campaign but rather a major investment that has fizzled.

And more information about Avaaz has been brought to light in a helpful fact sheet about Avaaz from NGO Monitor. Here are some highlights:

- Avaazwasco-foundedin 2007 by “Res Publica, a global civic advocacy group, and,” a George Soros-funded organization involved in ideological and political campaigns in the US. 

- Behind the façade of democracy and social protests (August 6, 2011), “The domain Avaaz.orgattacked[29 governments email accounts]…with more than 250,000 SMTP email protocols [i.e., individual email messages that would flood and overwhelm the system]” on August 6, 2011, according to the Israeli government Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT). In response, Avaaz claimed that there was no attack and that only 3,500 emails were sent. 

Avaaz calls for members to participate in theSheikh Jarrah protests, providing a distorted account of the situation and using highly offensive, racially-charged rhetoric: “the unjust eviction of Palestinians, losing their homes in the aggressive Judaization of East Jerusalem.”

-Avaaz’scampaignfor a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in 2007and to “end [] the blockade on humanitarian aid to Gaza” called for a two-state solution and “respect for human rights on both sides.” But, the campaign was publicized through a highly problematic agitprop video calledStop the Clash of Civilizations.” The video draws a moral equivalence between terrorists and their victims, between armies of sovereign states and terror groups, and between September 11th and the Iraq war, claiming “are we that different?” 

With such an agenda driven organization, why is Harriet Sherwood giving uncritical publicity to the Avaaz campaign?

What the Guardian won’t report: Palestine will be Jew-free

The Jerusalem Post reports that the Palestinian ambassador to the US said that the Palestinian Liberation Organization opposes the immediate presence of Jews and gays in an independent Palestinian state.

But if you’re a Guardian reader you’d never know this. Instead you’re treated to more stories beating the drums of war in support of Palestinian statehood. Here’s a snapshot of the Israel hate page on the Guardian at the time of writing:


Now try a little thought experiment and imagine what the Israel hate page would look like on the Guardian if an Israeli official were to say that Israel should be free of Arabs or Muslims.

Meanwhile over at the Guardian’s sister publication in Israel, Ha’aretz, Elder of Ziyon reports that Ha’aretz amended its headline on this story to make the PLO sound less antisemitic.

The initial headline was “PLO Official: Palestinian state to be free of Jews” which was later changed to “PLO official: Palestinians, Israelis must be totally separated”.

As Elder noted:

Ha’aretz is so heavily invested in the false meme that the Palestinian Arab leadership wants to have peace with Israel that they couldn’t stomach that original, accurate headline that showed that their idea of “peace” is the ethnic cleansing of all Jews from “Palestine.”

A Ha’aretz editor decided to tone it down, so as not to offend the delicate sensibilities of Ha’aretz readers who have come to expect a certain kind of news that conforms to a pre-existing viewpoint.

So what’s worse – not reporting the story at all a la Guardian or misreporting the story a la Ha’aretz? 

Bashing America and Israel after 9/11: it’s popular and profitable

The posts marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks that were featured over at Harry’s Place included a longer essay by Petra Marquardt-Bigman who describes the past 10 years as “A decade of divisive debate.”

The essay begins with a look at the Le Monde editorial with the famous headline “We are all Americans” and argues that this editorial “provided a rather accurate preview of the controversies that would come to dominate the political discourse in the decade after 9/11.”

Towards the end of the essay, there are a few paragraphs that highlight the Guardian’s role and the fact that Seumas Milne claimed “a special place of honor for the Guardian’s own contribution to the controversies that developed in the aftermath of 9/11.”

Milne, who was the Guardian’s comment editor at the time of 9/11, asserts in his celebratory column that the verdict of history clearly favors those who, like him, insisted even in the immediate aftermath of the terror attacks that it was imperative for Americans to “make the connection between what has been visited upon them and what their government has visited upon large parts of the world.” Indeed, making the point even more succinctly, Milne’s column on September 13, 2001, was entitled:They can’t see why they are hated.” In Milne’s view – which is clearly shared by many of his readers – his paper’s efforts to ensure that voices blaming American and Western policies for the attacks on 9/11 “would be unmistakably heard” merely amounted to a supremely commendable effort to provide “a full-spectrum debate about why the attacks had taken place and how the US and wider western world should respond.” With a sense of victorious vindication, Milne recalls the resulting “backlash” and dismisses it as a reaction that “verged on the deranged.”

However, what Milne describes as “a full-spectrum debate” largely excluded voices that sought to answer the question why Americans and the West “are hated” by exploring the societies of those who hated. Denying these voices a chance to be heard was obviously the right thing to do in terms of the ideology outlined by elite opinion-shapers like Ramonet. Yet, given the eagerness to avoid a “clash of civilizations” and the perception that this was the West’s responsibility, there was also a general sense that it would only be counter-productive to shine the spotlight on the pathologies that allowed Osama bin Laden to be regarded as someone who inspired considerable “confidence.”

A decade after 9/11, the guardians of this “political correctness” can arguably point to some “achievements” – how about the fact that the Bush administration’s “war on terror” has become nameless and unnamable in the Obama administration? As Walter Russell Mead has noted, America is now “fighting an anonymous war with unspecified goals against Those Who Cannot Be Named” – though, courtesy of Mead, we have at least a handy acronym: COFKATGWOT, which stands, obviously, for the Conflict Formerly Known As The Global War On Terror.

But whatever the war is called, the more salient fact is surely that Osama bin Laden was killed by US commandos. Another salient fact is that by the time he was killed, the number of Muslims who expressed “confidence” in him had shrunken dramatically.

So how do these facts square with Seumas Milne’s claim that the Guardian’s commentary after 9/11 has been vindicated by history’s judgment? Well, they don’t.

Even the examples Milne himself cites to support his claim don’t help his case. One of Milne’s references is to a particularly shrill and triumphalist piece by the London-based Syrian writer Rana Kabbani, which was published by the Guardian on September 13, 2001, under the title “Terror has come home.” Milne highlights that Kabbani “warned that only a change of policy towards the rest of the world would bring Americans security.” But there was no “change of policy” as advocated by Kabbani or Milne, and Americans nevertheless had security.

Moreover, well-respected US analysts from across the political spectrum have recently argued that President Obama’s Middle East and security policies have begun to gradually shift towards policies and measures implemented by the previous administration. Unsurprisingly, there is no shortage of recent articles arguing that George W. Bush might have reason to feel vindicated by history.

While this makes Milne’s claim that the Guardian’s commentary after 9/11 was vindicated even less convincing, there is one issue where he is clearly right: he notes that “the post-9/11 debate was ‘totally transformative’ for the Guardian, turning it into one of the two fastest growing news sites in the US.” That is to say: controversy sells. No doubt it does.

Right, if Islamists can always count on the “Great Satan-Little Satan” shtick to boost their popularity, why shouldn’t leftists in the West follow their example — particularly if there is money to be made by peddling the ideas they share with the Middle East’s most reactionary forces? 

Melanie Phillips: Britain on the edge of the cliff

Melanie Phillips has a must read piece in the Daily Mail today on the media’s coverage of 9/11 in Britain.

Not surprisingly, Phillips highlighted the upside down thinking that we’ve become so accustomed in the Guardian.

In the Guardian the esteemed thinker Francis Fukuyama,whose earlier thesis that the global triumph of democracy had brought about the end of history was not altogether borne out by the events of 9/11, marked the anniversary by dismissing al Qaeda as ‘a mere blip or diversion’, with the US ‘overreaction’ to 9/11 turning anti-Americanism into ‘a self-fulfilling prophecy’ – the murder of almost 3000 Americans in the attacks on New York and Washington clearly being inspired by a ‘blip’ that had nothing to do with anti-Americanism.

Also in the Guardian, Mehdi Hasan identified the ‘preachers of hate and division’ — not as Islamist fanatics but as those who warn against them. The only victims mentioned in this article were not the murdered Americans on 9/11, nor the Muslim and other victims of Islamist terrorism across the world, but Muslims in Britain who were now apparently too terrified to speak in public for fear of being labelled an extremist (with the exception, it seems, of Mehdi Hasan).

There’s much more. Read the whole thing here.

h/t Benjamin W

The Monday Morning Guardian Israel Hate Page

The Guardian Israel hate page this morning – as my dear friend MargieinTelAviv affectionately calls it – features a veritable choice of Israel-bashing articles to sink one’s teeth into.


First, there’s an article by Peter Preston, former Guardian editor, which contains a breathtaking insight into the malice with which he views Israel.   

As for Egypt itself, transition seems a puny word. Goodbye to Mubarak, and decades of autocracy; hello to dawning democracy, to millions on the streets, to outbursts of mass anger that, these past few days, can see Israel’s embassy while soldiers struggle for control. Maybe democracy and violent protest aren’t obvious bedfellows, but this time there is a connection – because now the crowd can come out spontaneously to make its feelings clear.[emphasis added]

Lets unpack this last sentence for a second. Preston seems to be drawing together two somewhat disparate themes: democracy and violence; the suggestion being that the freedoms associated with democracy have allowed the “Egyptian street” to express their true feelings toward Israel. However, the idea of democracy is not about unleashing the inner animal so that anarchy reins – but allowing freedom of expression to flourish within the confines of the rule of law. What Preston does through a rhetorical play on words is contextualize and justify violence against Israelis in the name of democracy.  

If that’s not enough, Preston then goes on to upbraid Israel for its stubborn refusal to commit suicide by refusing to recognize the Palestinian unilateral declaration of statehood expected to take place at the UN later this month.  

Israel ought to be voting to recognise a Palestinian state too this week, coming to terms with change before change engulfs it. But is there any sign of such awareness in the bunkers of entrenched obliviousness? An Arab spring? Fear, rather, an Israeli winter.

The theme of unilateral declaration of statehood is then picked up by the perfidious Gerald Kaufman. Under the heading “Israel’s Choices” in the letters page, Israel is presented with one choice.

President Abbas is to be congratulated on persisting in applying for Palestinian statehood at the UN (Report, 9 September), despite all the pressure and blackmail trying to force him not to. The quartet has never done anything meaningful to give the Palestinians their independence. If the US uses its veto at the security council, this will prove the smug windbag Obama to be the puppet of Aipac. The hypocrisy of those countries which vote against or abstain at the general assembly will similarly be exposed. This brave Palestinian move will change the entire environment of the Middle East and tell the Israelis that they must negotiate meaningfully if they wish to be one of the states in a two-state solution.
Gerald Kaufman MP
Lab, Manchester Gorton

[Note how for good measure Kaufman breezily employs the rhetoric more commonly associated with Jewish conspiracy theorists Walt and Mearsheimer by stating that US support of Israel in the United Nations is the work of the US puppet master, AIPAC.]

Not to be outdone by Preston and Kaufman, Jerusalem correspondent, Harriet Sherwood adds her own two cents by posting an article suggesting that there is widespread approval for the support of a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state in Europe.

The majority of people in the UK, France and Germany want their governments to vote in favour of recognising a Palestinian state if a resolution is brought before the United Nations in the next few weeks, according to an opinion poll.

The basis for such a claim, we learn, is a poll conducted by YouGov on behalf of Avaaz.

The poll was conducted by YouGov on behalf of Avaaz, a global campaigning organisation that is conducting an online petition in support of a Palestinian state. It is planning to deliver more than 913,000 signatories backing what it describes as “this new opportunity for freedom” to the European parliament.

We do not know what questions were asked in this poll – all we are told is, by way of footnote, that the poll was conducted online with 2,552 respondents in the UK, 1,017 respondents in Germany and 1,011 in France. However if the track record of Avaaz polling is anything to go by, the results are not to be trusted.    

And Avaaz has an even more checkered background as Daniel Greenfield observes,

Avaaz [is] a left-wing organization conducting a pressure campaign for Palestinian statehood. Avaaz’s video lays the blame for the violence on Israel, compares Israel’s Foreign Minister to Ahmadinejad and presents the unilateral Hamas-Fatah state as a way to bring peace to the region. Viewers are not told that few things are more certain to bring violence than unilateral actions by a fanatical terrorist group whose covenant celebrates the genocide of the Jewish people.

Like its video, Avaaz is not what it seems. Unlike most organizations, Avaaz does not list its staff openly; instead it claims to practice “servant leadership” with staffers letting members decide what to do. Only when the tax returns for Avaaz are examined, does a clearer picture emerge of who is really in charge.

Avaaz’s tax returns mention only one paid employee, its president, Ricken Patel, who pulls down a six figure salary—not bad for a ‘servant’. Patel was also a co-founder of Res Publica, the organization that co-founded Avaaz.

The Chairman of the Board, Eli Pariser, is the president of which also co-founded Avaaz, and  along with Avaaz’s Secretary, Tom Pravda, is also on the advisory board of Res Publica. Patel and Pariser serve on the advisory board of J-Street, a Soros organization founded to undermine Jewish support for Israel.

What’s the difference between Res Publica and Avaaz? Avaaz looks like an international activist group, which is convenient when you want to appear to be a global movement, instead of a disguised branch of the same old American left-wing organizations.

Res Publica gets the majority of its funding from the Open Society Institute, which makes Avaaz another disguised George Soros project, just like J Street. The Economic Times hails Ricken Patel as “The Man Who Gives You Your Voice”, but it’s not “your” voice, it’s Soros’ voice.

And if the anti-Israel agitrop of Harriet Sherwood were not enough, there’s a Guardian editorial to top things off reveling in Israel’s regional isolation.

If post-revolutionary Egypt and an economically resurgent Turkey make common cause against their former common ally – and there is every indication that they will – Israel‘s isolation in the region will be profound.

In other words, just another day at the “world’s leading liberal voice”.

What the Guardian won’t report: “They were animals”

More details of the brutal attempts by a bloodthirsty Egyptian mob to lynch members of the Israeli embassy and their families emerge.

As CNN reports:

An angry crowd lingering near the Israeli embassy in Cairo after an attack on the building a day earlier turned on journalists reporting the incident Saturday, accusing at least one of being an Israeli spy.

As a CNN crew filmed the embassy from across the street, another crew from American public television — led by Egyptian television producer Dina Amer — approached the building.

The crew’s Russian cameraman was preparing to film the embassy when a woman in the crowd began hurling insults at the TV team, Amer said.

“There was this older lady who decided to follow me and rally people against me,” Amer recalled.

“She said ‘you’re a spy working with the Americans.’ Then they swarmed me and I was a target.”

A growing crowd surrounded Amer and her colleagues, as they tried to leave the scene.

Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, a producer working for CNN, rushed to help escort Amer through the angry crowd. But suddenly the two reporters were pinned against the railing of an overpass by young men who were accusing Amer of being an Israeli spy.

Yelling “I’m Egyptian,” Fahmy managed to pull Amer another 10 meters down the road, until the pressure from the mob overwhelmed the pair.

Amer screamed as she and Fahmy were knocked to the ground and the crowd started to trample them.

Other CNN journalists tried to reach in to help, but were pushed back by a wall of angry men.

Fahmy lay on top of Amer, shielding her with his body.

“I was thinking, how powerless I was because there was no police to save us,” Fahmy said. “I was worried that they were going to rape her.”

At that moment, a student bystander named Mohammed el Banna called out to the journalists and pointed out a nearby car.

Somehow, Fahmy managed to carry Amer to the open door of the public television crew’s car, where two of her female colleagues were waiting just a few feet away.

The mob pounded on the windows and tried to reach into the vehicle as the panicked reporters fumbled and struggled to get behind the steering wheel.

When Margaret Warner, a correspondent with the PBS program “Newshour” managed to get the vehicle moving away from the crowd, men threw stones at the departing vehicle.

Amer had few words to describe the terrifying ordeal.

They were animals,” she said.

Other Egyptian journalists told CNN they were also attacked Saturday while trying to report near the Israeli embassy. [emphasis added]

H/T Muqata

StandwithUs Press Release Condemning Anti-Jewish Hate Speech and Violent Attack at SOAS


March 21, 2011



A small number of pro-Israel protestors, including supporters of StandWithUs, participated in a peaceful protest against the “Celebrate Palestine Festival” event held at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies [SOAS] on March 20th. The event included calls for boycotting Israel and libeling it as an “Apartheid” country.

The pro-Israel protesters were standing at the university, with signs behind them pointing out that Israel is the opposite of an ‘apartheid’ country and calling for a peaceful two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians. They peacefully discussed these issues with attendees, only once approached by people. The police had given them permission to be there.

Anti-Israel activists then engaged them in conversation. One man verbally assaulted them with anti-Semitic slurs, saying, “the best thing that Jews have ever done was to go into the gas chambers.  It was the best thing to happen to Germany to have been cleaned of Jews.  The same thing needs to happen in the Middle East.”  Another anti-Israel activist then punched and bit a Jewish member of the group, who was hospitalized.  This was an unprovoked attack.  His attacker was later arrested by police.

StandWithUs unequivocally condemns the disgusting act of violence against peaceful Israel supporters on the SOAS campus. The attacker evidently was spurred on by the hate-filled, one-sided event taking place at SOAS.

“I am totally shaken and distressed by what happened. One of the most disturbing things is that the people involved, fearing negative publicity…started accusing us shouting, “how dare you come here? It’s a Celebrate Palestine event, you knew what would happen. You asked for it.’ I didn’t think I would ever get to a stage in which I would feel like a Jew in Nazi Germany, and I don’t say it lightly,” reported StandWithUs-UK Coordinator Gili Brenner who was one of the pro-Israel demonstrators.

“It is unacceptable that violent rhetoric by Palestinian supporters spills over into violent actions. We expect the university to condemn this attack and those who incited it. Universities must have a policy of zero tolerance policy for hate speech and anti-Semitism. They should carefully monitor incendiary events like ‘Celebrate Palestine’ to ensure that hate speech, violence, and suppression of free speech do not occur,” said Michael Dickson, StandWithUs-Israel Director who was in London during the incident.

“Unfortunately, the kind of blatant anti-Semitism, bigotry, and incitement to hatred that occurred at SOAS  lurk at the bottom of far too many anti-Israel events on campuses. They frequently become a toxic brew that can lead to physical violence as they did in this case.  They also prevent any serious discussion of the issues, and often lead to intimidation and the suppression of free speech, as they did in London,” said Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs.

“It is unthinkable that in the UK people can be prevented from peacefully demonstrating and expressing their opposition to incitement, hatred and blatant anti-semitism which, given the outrageous comments about Jews this undoubtedly was. It is important that the right to challenge anti-Israel events be protected, and Israel’s supporters must not be intimidated or silenced by the mindless violence that occurred on Sunday,” commented Joy Wolfe, UK Chairman of StandWithUs.

A short video made following the attack (the man featured is not the attacker)

For more information and photos, including yesterday’s events at SOAS and Covent Garden (see top two posts):