A Modern Fairy Tale, inspired by ‘Comment is Free’

Once upon a time there was a boy called Mardy,* who was an average student but was not popular at school, mainly because of the way his father, a single parent whose wife left him, had raised him. 

Mardy was brought up to believe that he was naturally superior to everyone else and that it was fine for him to “defend” himself by getting his retaliation in first.  His father’s rationale was that it worked well for him when he had been at school and made people fearful of offending him, but Mardy would do this unthinkingly, far too often and inappropriately.  Far from making other pupils afraid to offend him, his failure to apply it more carefully meant that his aggressive behaviour made them increasingly annoyed and they made no secret of it.

A while ago Mardy was hauled before the Principal because of a gratuitously offensive essay he had written about the inferior status of girls which he circulated at school, no doubt to try to curry favour with the top dogs there.  He told the principal that his father had read the essay and agreed with it and could not understand what all the fuss was about.  Mardy’s father accompanied him to the principal’s office, where he was advised to write an appropriate apology for the offence he had caused, which would be similarly circulated. 

He flatly refused, arguing that the article was true and many of his mates believed it.   His father, of course, sided with Mardy against the principal – who, unfortunately, was far too weak to stand up for himself – and accused the principal of bullying his son.

The result was that Mardy was not punished for what he wrote, nor was he forced to apologise.  No-one forgot it, not least because he did not allow them to do so, and he subsequently become even more arrogant and big-headed and hostile towards girls. 

Every time the essay was referred to at school he’d go running home to his dad, complaining that he was being bullied.  Dad made countless visits to the school and even threatened the Principal, which resulted in the entire school community being warned to leave Mardy alone.  Far from helping matters it made them much worse.  

The pupils were furious that the Principal was so spineless as to grant Mardy special protected status.  Mardy and his father took away the entirely the wrong message, so Mardy’s behaviour towards the girls in his class, and towards female teachers, became even more obnoxious, and matters escalated culminating in a week where he was shunned totally even by the same top dogs who were initially impressed.

His Facebook page became the focus of calls for him to leave the school and there was a demonstration outside the Principal’s office to have him permanently excluded.

But nothing changed. The Principal remained weak, and the more people disagreed with Mardy the more obnoxious and verbally abusive he became and the more open he was about his hatred of girls and women.

Finally, a group of parents involved the school governors, who ordered Mardy to attend a special meeting in order to explain himself and provide reasons why he should not be permanently excluded from the school.

I wish that I could say that Mardy learned his lesson from this confrontation and that everyone then lived happily ever after, but Mardy attended the meeting and, far from being rude, was embarrassingly self-pitying.  He said that it was plain that “everyone was against him” but that his essay had been fair comment and “everyone knew” that it was true so why should he apologise for telling the truth?  

No matter how reasonable and keen to understand him were the school governors, the more belligerently self-pitying Mardy became – and was devastated and infuriated by turns when they found his behaviour so unfitting that he was excluded permanently from their school.

What conclusion can be drawn from this story?

We know that life sometimes imitates what passes for art.

For a true account, which mirrors this fairy tale, see here

For an insight into the damage done by an overprotective father figure see here.

Also, see CiF Watch’s post on the overprotective father, here.

*(“Mard” is a northern English term for wimpish)

International Committee of the Red Cross, Hamas Guardians. (On Fish & House Guests II)

In September 2010 I wrote here about the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and it’s too ready inclination of sympathy towards Hamas, to the extent that it gave sanctuary to three wanted Hamas fugitives, Ahmad Attoun, Khaled Abu-Arafa and Muhammad Totah. 

The three had been ordered to leave East Jerusalem having had their residency permits revoked when they refused to renounce their ties with Hamas.  As I noted in my previous article, the Hamas members were openly supported by Uri Avneri and others on the extreme left in Israel, who visited them at the ICRC’s headquarters in the Sheikh Jarrah building in East Jerusalem. 

The Red Cross, despite their statement that the Israeli police could have arrested them whenever they wanted, aided and abetted them to break Israeli law by making them comfortable there.    

According to the Jerusalem Post (Hamas MPs hiding in E. Jerusalem Red Cross arrested, Jan. 23) all of the fugitives were provided with a room inside the building where they could sleep and keep their belongings, a bathroom, and electricity for their protest tent together with a water cooler.  Readers will agree that these are hardly the actions of unwilling hosts towards wanted men.  We are told that the men met with overseas dignitaries, and even held a press conference there.  Family members came daily to bring food and clothing.   All this is in contrast to the ICRC’s passivity and its lack of effort to gain access to Gilad Shalit while he was being held by Hamas.

It seemed then that the ICRC’s house guests, like the fish in the proverb, would soon begin to smell but it transpired not.  Ahmad Attoun was arrested several months ago, having been lured onto the street by Israeli police.

The police seemed unsure what to do about Abu-Arafa and Totah, but undercover police finally went into the building and arrested the two, who put up no resistance.

It seems that the ICRC’s actions are the only things that smell, because, in spite of its protestations that it is involved only in humanitarian issues, it did not force these Hamas supporters to leave their premises.  

Its “we are involved only in humanitarian efforts” excuse also rings rather hollow in the light of recent revelations that it has provided first aid training to the Taliban, the impact of which it tried to minimise by staying that it had also provided training to Afghani civilians “to ensure that everyone is treated humanely” and …”as fairly as possible.” 

People might wonder, and rightly, whether that first aid to non-combatants included how to relieve the pain and prevent further harm to people who have had a limb chopped off or acid thrown in their faces.

Now I would not put it past the Taliban to have the cheek to demand/request these favours from the politically and morally paralysed – oops, I mean “neutral” – ICRC, but the moral equivalence which accompanied the meeting of that demand/request beggars belief, as do the ICRC’s excuses for providing it.

Shalit after Hamas captivity vs Palestinian terrorists after Israeli incarceration: A visual/moral contrast

Per AP 

GAZA CITY, Gaza City – A leader of the Palestinian militant group that captured the Israeli soldier swapped this week for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners said Saturday that the soldier was treated well during his captivity.

Zuhair Al-Qaisi of the Popular Resistance Committees told The Associated Press that Gilad Schalit was given sufficient food and allowed to watch Hebrew-language TV.

Schalit was notably gaunt, pale and exhausted when he was freed. His father says his son is suffering from malnutrition, the effects of isolation and lack of exposure to sun and also wounds sustained during his capture that had not been treated properly. Noam Schalit also said his son “endured harsh things” in his more than five years of captivity in Gaza.

Al-Qaisi dismissed the accusations, saying that Schalit was provided food that “fits him as a Jew,” by which he appeared to mean kosher food….”

“The way Schalit looked when he was released proved that he was treated well,” said Al-Qaisi.

However, look at the following.

Note Schalit’s appearance during the infamous Egyptian TV interview, and then later when he was finally on Israeli soil:

Does Gilad Schalit look fit, well-fed and cared for?  Does he seem to be as healthy as the terrorists kept at the Israeli taxpayers’ expense?

Judge for yourselves from the Palestinian photographs below.  Note the significant difference between the appearance of the freed Palestinians and that of Schalit. 

(Note also that these photographs, by Talla Photography, were taken from pro-Palestinian web pages.  I collected them so that, despite the bizarre accusations circulating that the photographs and film footage of Schalit had been doctored to make him look more unwell than he actually was, there can be no credible claims that these photographs have been altered by the Palestinian media to make the subjects look fit, well, suntanned and healthy) :

The Biter Bitten? A Guardian Reporter’s Prayer

From the BBC Radio 4 news today and today’s Daily Telegraph comes word of the latest Guardian hypocrisy, that a senior Guardian journalist, Amelia Hill, has been questioned under caution* by the Metropolitan Police  in London in connection with the telephone hacking scandal.  According to the Daily Telegraph, she is thought to have published information based on leaks from an officer assigned to the inquiry into the News of the World’s voice mail hacking.

I cannot deny that Schadenfreude rules for me.  It appears that the Guardian, so eager and quick to point the finger at the News of the World, may itself be implicated in the very sleaze it condemns.  The biter seems to have been bitten.

But although the Guardian’s Teflon coating seems to be getting worn, note the following attempt to deflect from Dan Roberts, the paper’s national news editor, who tweeted that the developments were a “bleak day for journalism when (a) reporter behind vital hacking revelations is criminalised for doing her job”.   What on earth could he have meant – that the “bleak day for journalism” was because another Guardian reporter has been implicated in underhanded, possibly illegal and certainly unethical behaviour?

*Interviews under caution are conducted when the police would like to speak to a person about an arrestable offence.  Amelia Hill is likely to have received documentation along the following lines:


A Guardian Reporter’s Prayer:

Our Editor, which art in King’s Place

Rusbridger be thy name

Thy time has come

To be undone

For thy sins against the truth;

But give us this day thy latest excuse

That the readership may forgive our lies

As we forgive thy spin to us;

And lead us not into the arms of the Met

But deliver us from government enquiry;

For thine is the (ever-shrinking) kingdom,

The power and misplaced glory

But not for long


Phone Hacking by Guardian reporters: How far does it go?

As we know, the Guardian was in the forefront of the baying hounds of condemnation in its coverage of the News of the World’s telephone hacking scandal.  I have a mental image of Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger in angel’s garb, complete with halo, pointing a judgmental finger at the devil-depicted News of the World

One cannot help but be skeptical about the subtext of the Guardian’s precious, pious and censorious attitude.  After all, this is the newspaper which gave us the lies about the Jenin “massacre” (but see also here and how subsequently the Guardian “almost-but-not-quite” retracted its libel) as well as the abhorrent obituary for Nizar Rayyan, Hamas suicide bomber recruiter.  It is also the newspaper which regularly invites terrorists and their supporters to write for Comment is Free. 

In the light of all this and much more, one can be excused for assuming that, given the appropriate facilitating environment, the Guardian would almost certainly stoop to the depths of the News of the World and then lie through its collective teeth that it had done any such thing.

And indeed it has, as we have seen in the latest revelations about David Leigh’s methods of investigative news gathering.

Of course we have only his word that the telephone messages he hacked into were those of “a corrupt arms company executive” since he does not name the person – they could have been anybody’s messages.   

So far as I know there was no police enquiry, and no arrest resulting from his activities.  Had the hacking really been in the public interest the results of it would almost certainly have made the front pages of every major newspaper, which means that we cannot be sure in whose interests he was acting when he appears to have violated the law.  Although Leigh is quoted as saying, the “privacy cards are stacked in favour of the rich and powerful”, what on earth gives him, or any other Guardian journalists, the right to define what precisely is in “the public interest”, and how to determine when such a serious personal intrusion is warranted?

It therefore gives me considerable satisfaction to note that the Guardian’s chickens may at last be coming home to roost.   

At the very least the Guardian will not remain untouched by the dirt and debris spread by the phone hacking scandals.  Leigh, in the fashion of the arrogant who believe that rules, regulations and societal and professional norms of decency do not apply to them may, like Icarus who flew too near to the sun, have fallen victim to his own hubris.   The skewed sense of ethics which underlies not only Leigh’s activities but also his perception of the morality of his behavior is intriguing and disturbing – though not surprising given that this is, after all, the Guardian. 

Leigh’s actions, and his subsequent boasting about them, mirror the Guardian World-View and its perception of the unswerving rectitude of its own conduct.  Leigh clearly believes that ethical norms do not apply to him and actually seems proud of what he did.

A curious anomaly therefore presents itself: 

Although the Guardian is quoted as saying that the paper “does not authorise and has not authorised phone hacking,” Alan Rusbridger himself is on record as saying that “any intrusions must be authorised at a sufficiently senior level and with appropriate oversight.”

(What precisely does Rusbridger mean by “intrusions”?   Is this Rusbridger dissimulation for voice mail interception or other breaches of privacy?  Was Rusbridger’s statement an admission that there are and have been intrusions, or was it another example of Guardian hubris or a slip of the tongue?).

Did Leigh listen to or “intrude” into private voicemail messages without the knowledge or permission of his seniors or did Rusbridger himself authorise Leigh’s “intrusion”?

I would be willing to bet that the Guardian’s and Leigh’s defence will be based on semantics, and on what exactly might constitute “hacking.”  According to Leigh:

“… The trick was a simple one: the businessman in question had inadvertently left his pin code on a print-out and all that was needed was to dial straight into his voicemail…”

Note that Leigh calls his intrusion into privacy a “trick” rather than anything else, but the whole incident, as Leigh recounts it, should ring warning bells:

If this businessman was indeed corrupt and engaged in shady arms deals, why on earth would he record his telephone pin number anywhere, let alone print it out, “inadvertently” or otherwise where the likes of Leigh could find it?  One would imagine that he would have more of a sense of danger than to do that.

Even assuming that Leigh is not being economical with the actualite, was it ethically sound for Leigh to dial in to the man’s voicemail?   Was it even remotely connected to the “last resort” argument put forward by Leigh, under which hacking or interception could be justified?  Since we do not know who Leigh hacked or intercepted, we cannot know whether he practised what he preached – that it should be done only as a last resort – or whether he merely took an opportunity which presented itself.

If the latter, then Leigh was on a fishing expedition.  He was not looking for specific information, rather he was hoping to find information on the off-chance.   If that were the case, then how would Leigh’s rationale for his conduct have constituted what Ben Riley-Smith, writing on The First Post, calls a “watertight public interest defence”? 

Might Leigh, and ipso facto Rusbridger, be guilty of any crime if Leigh’s boasting has a basis in truth?  I am no lawyer, but the following is intriguing. 

Rusbridger, being the Editor, and Leigh by doing the deed under Rusbridger’s real or imagined “oversight” may have infringed Section 1 of the Computer Misuse Act, 1990.  Of course it may be moot whether voice mail data can be fully comparable to data held on a computer but, nevertheless:

The Section 1 offence “Unauthorised access to computer materials (hacking)” provides that someone is guilty of the offence if:

• he causes a computer to perform any function

(a) with intent to secure access to any program or data held in any computer

(b) or to enable any such access to be secured

• the access he intends to secure, or to enable to be secured, is unauthorised

 I have set out above the difficulties I have with Leigh’s story of how he came by the man’s pin number. Added to that the obvious intent by Leigh to access the other man’s voicemail as evidenced by Leigh’s confession and his actions once he got the pin number, however he got it, and it seems that  many more questions are shopping for answers.

All of which actions, as well as Leigh’s own admission that “…it is hard to keep on the right side of legality on all occasions ….”  point yet again to the essential lack of ethical standards at the Guardian.

Rusbridger’s rag lost its reputation for fair and honest reporting long ago.   It honours the NUJ’s Code of Conduct more in the breach than in the observance.   It has the collective moral reasoning age of a five-year old who believes that an action is wrong only in terms of the punishment it will attract if the wrongdoing is found out, and yet too readily sets itself up as the arbiter of what constitutes moral behaviour of the politicians and others it criticises.  It will be interesting to see what transpires as a result of Leigh’s hubris.

Rusbridger has many questions to answer, among which are:

1.  When does he intend to hold an enquiry into Leigh’s conduct?

2.  Whether (as mentioned above) he gave permission and provided “oversight” for Leigh to intercept voicemail, and if so, why did the Guardian spokeswoman deny that such conduct occurs there?

3.  How widespread is voicemail interception as a method of news-gathering at the Guardian?

Hamas and the Guardian – doing what comes naturally?

The Guardian Online has been confusing lately.   More and more Guardian articles are closed to comments.  Why is that?  Are they having to lay off moderators or rely on school leavers/holiday job volunteers?  Why are they departing so markedly from their format of printing guff about Israel and by not allowing even their own baying hounds to vent their hatred?

No comments are allowed either below the article in the World News section about Hamas hanging two Palestinians, allegedly for spying for Israel. 

Hamas executing political opponents in Gaza.

Accusing their political enemies of spying for Israel is the strong suit of every Arab government in the Middle East, as Daniel Pipes says in his book “The Hidden Hand” , so that should not surprise us. 

Nevertheless not allowing comments below the Guardian article is bizarre, given the readiness of the Guardian, and particularly Comment is Free, to leap to the defence of Hamas and give its apologists all the column inches they want to spout their particular brand of distortion. 

Why, I wonder, is there no attempt to explain away Hamas’ behaviour or at least give the Guardianista anti-Israel regulars the opportunity to do so below the line?  Also curious is that this article is stripped of the usual anti-Israel / pro-Palestinian hype one expects from the Guardian.

We see from the article that the two men, aged 60 and 29, (who according to CNN were father and son) were hanged at dawn on 26 July. The Guardian article says that the Hamas spokesman would give no further details, so we do not know from that article whether they were tried or whether this was a summary execution in the manner preferred by Hamas of its enemies, real and/or imagined.  CNN, however, tells us that they had been convicted in 2004 of assisting the enemy and providing information used to assassinate Palestinians.  It is interesting to note the egregious double standard here, that Hamas executed two men for colluding with the very crimes (ie assassinating Palestinians) that it itself committed subsequently against Fatah:

“According to the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, the families of the men received a call at 1 a.m. Tuesday, asking them to visit their relatives. The meeting took place until 3 a.m., and at 6 a.m. the men’s bodies were received at Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital.

“It appears from the state of the bodies that the men were hanged,” a statement from Al Mezan says. The center noted the danger in collaborating with Israel, but said that “(while) it is important to bring them to justice, we strongly object to the use of the death penalty and see the move by Hamas as illegal.”

[Question 1:  If CNN could find this out, why didn’t the Guardian print the whole story? *

Anomaly 1:  According to CNN, these men were arrested in 2004 and Israel left Gaza in September 2005.  I am not sure – and the article does not make clear – exactly how they fell into the hands of Hamas, when Fatah was presumably in charge of maintaining what passed for civil law and order in Gaza at the time of their arrest.   Perhaps it happened after the Hamas coup and the bloodletting and murder of Fatah operatives when Hamas took over the jail system.   But why wait seven years to execute these men if the case against them is clear-cut?   Is Hamas losing its grip and therefore it needs to make an example of them now?   So many questions shopping for answers!]

Conjecture apart, Amnesty International’s Middle East programme director Malcolm Smart said in 2010 that legal proceedings that led to death sentences “failed to meet international fair trial standards” and made any resulting executions “especially abhorrent.”

*Now look a little closer at the article.  This report of Hamas brutality was not written by a Guardian reporter filled with anti-Israel animus but by Associated Press, which might explain the unadorned, unemotional nature of it, and why it did not wander off into the ozone layer of hyperbole and supposition.  Can we assume that it was chosen for publication because the sparse nature of the information in it might have fitted the Guardian World View far better than the more detailed reporting of an outlet like CNN, simply because AP skated over the circumstances of the executions and the fact that they arose from Hamas’ failure to meet the international standards for a fair trial? 

These are not the first such executions and it is a racing certainty that they will not be the last. 

Indeed Hamas seems morbidly proud of its record and intentions, as one might expect given its blatant disregard for the human rights of its own people (see also here ). The Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said that Hamas has executed five people for spying since taking control of the coastal strip in 2007.  It would not be surprising if the figure was in fact higher and that is definitely the case if one includes the summary executions of Fatah members and sympathisers after Cast Lead.

It is a similar racing certainty that no article condemning Hamas’ complete lack of awareness of what might constitute “just” behaviour towards its own people will ever find its way into the Guardian or Comment is Free.

An open letter to Jonathan Freedland

Dear Jonathan:

We are writing to you about the BDS debate at South Bank Centre in London, on the 10th July.  It appears that you had a rude awakening to the depth of mindless opposition to the very existence of Israel which can, if allowed, undermine any reasoned discussion in such a milieu. 

We have a recording of the debate in which this is evident, particularly where Carol Gould’s reference to the shelling of southern Israel from Gaza is met with laughter.  We also took note of your closing speech. We are, frankly, amazed that you realise apparently only now that the BDS campaign is driven by a very vociferous minority whose difficulty is with the existence of Israel itself rather than with the betterment of relations and a state for Palestinians.

We confess to being perplexed by your shock.  Do you not read CiF in the Guardian Online?  It is the leading driver of anti-Israel discourse in the media in terms of its articles (and often barely concealed antisemitic discourse below the line too).   It is the arch-proponent of Big Lies about the motives of Israel and Israelis, which, by their very nature, quickly take on lives of their own and become spurious truths.  Worst of all it rarely allows counter argument from the people whose lives are most affected by such untruths or  those who want to refute them.  Instead it gives column inches to vilification of the Jewish state and space to its enemies to further pervert the discourse.  The behaviour of some of the BDS supporters in the audience at the debate and their lack of restraint shows that they feel free to catcall and try to outshout pro-Israel speakers with impunity, due in a large part to the influence on the media of the Guardian.

Your major mistake was to assume that your opponents would be as open-minded as you were and that they would be able to stand outside their agendas and debate dispassionately, one step removed, as it were, from the emotions these issues invariably evoke.  You were mistaken also, as you found out, to assume that the pro-BDS arguments were stand-alone and discrete and had nothing to do with the existence of Israel per se. 

You had no personal axe to grind although your views were clear.  Although you came prepared for an intellectual debate, as did Carol Gould, neither the audience nor your two opponents were prepared to hear you fully.  They had already made up their minds and nothing was going to sway them!  

Your reasoned argument was met with jeering from some in the audience.  For Barghouti (who accuses Israel of being an apartheid state while quite freely studying for a PhD at Tel Aviv University) and the BDS movement supporters in the audience who voted in favour of the boycott motion, this was yet another publicity exercise, an opportunity to vilify Israel and to advance the BDS (and delegitimization) movement.

Perhaps you were naïve enough to believe that a well-constructed argument, or even a series of them, would be enough to convince the likes of Barghouti and his fellow-travellers that BDS is misguided, is not in the best interests of Palestinian people, and is certainly not a viable course by which to achieve Palestinian statehood. 

But the opposition’s poisonous agenda outflanked and bested you.  The Jewish Chronicle article says that you were gloomy and “visibly shaken” about the success of the pro-boycotters.  If that is true, then we hope you will forgive us for being heartily glad of it. We hope that what must have been the considerable discomfort of that experience changes your perspective permanently, that its effects stay with you and are translated by you into appropriate action:

For example, what might you write to convince the Israeli public (the most decisive factor in any peace settlement) that there is a chance for peace with the Barghoutis of this world, given that he had no compunction about lying in the debate about what he called the “genocidal tendencies” having overtaken Israeli society? What could you do, as a well-known Guardian columnist, to undermine the mindless Israel-hatred which all too often spills into antisemitism on CiF?  

You see, the “pudding” you cooked, so to speak, when you shared your realisation that the BDS movement has a problem with the very existence of Israel, looks appetising, given your self-confessed realisation that BDS supporters’ agenda will not stop at boycott, divestment and sanctions, even if they were to result in a Palestinian state.  That you named the BDS agenda for what it is shows promise but much will depend on how your “pudding” actually tastes, and we shall know that by your actions in future.

My thanks to PetertheHungarian for his contribution to this article.

The Guardian’s permanent (Israeli) “war crimes” page that just won’t die

Readers who know the raison d’être of CiF Watch also know that it came about as a result of the obsessively negative focus on Israel by CiF.  This continues as we see, but nowhere is it more evident and arguably more sinister than at this page, hidden away within the World News section in the online edition of the Guardian.

The uninformed reader without an axe to grind who happened on this might be forgiven for assuming that only one side (Palestinian) was wronged in Cast Lead, that only one side were victims (again Palestinian), and that Cast Lead (for which this section seems to be a macabre memorial) happened out of the blue one day simply because Israel decided on a whim to launch a war.

Because, conspicuously absent from any of the articles and videos is any account whatsoever of the Hamas’s human rights abuses against its own citizens, their unprovoked missile attacks on Israeli towns, or of the context and the events which led to Cast Lead.  I hope that readers will bear with me while I summarise those events:

Israeli civilians have been targets of rocket fire from Gaza since Israel’s withdrawal from there in 2005.  Instead of using the withdrawal to make it clear to their neighbour that they were prepared for coexistence, Palestinian terrorists began launching rockets into southern Israeli communities.

Despite a period of relative calm, when comparatively few rockets were launched, Hamas began firing again at Israeli civilians on 19th December 2008.

A statement by a spokesman from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs included:

“…Israel has no interest in conducting military operations in the Gaza Strip, but it is clear that the current situation, in which Israeli civilians are being targeted around the clock, cannot continue indefinitely. The residents of the cities of Sderot and Ashkelon, as well as the towns and villages in ballistic range of the Gaza Strip, cannot be held hostage forever to the radical fundamentalist agenda of Hamas….”

But the rocket fire continued and escalated and all the while Israel was urged by the major powers to stay her hand while her people were targets of Hamas hatred.

In the face of that escalation, the Israeli Ambassador to the UN submitted a letter of complaint to Ban Ki Moon on 17th December 2008, followed by a formal letter of protest to the Secretary General on 22nd December 2008, when that was not effective.   We do not know what he replied.  We do know, however, that the rocket fire on Israeli civilians in southern Israel escalated to such an extent that the Israeli government launched Cast Lead on 27th December 2008.

Nowhere on the Guardian’s account of alleged war crimes by Israel is there any mention of the deliberate targeting of Israeli civilians by Hamas – itself a breach of the Geneva Conventions – although the Guardian was indecently quick to condemn Israel for the civilian deaths in Gaza which ensued mostly because of Hamas tactics of embedding its terrorists within the civilian population and launching its rockets from among them, and using civilians as human shields (see also here).  Nowhere on the page is any mention of the measures taken by the IDF to avoid civilian casualties wherever possible.

One would not know either from the coverage, because it has not been updated to take note of ensuing events, that the IDF conducted formal hearings (see also here, here, here and here) and disciplined where necessary any soldier who broke IDF regulations.  In the absence of this we are left by Chassay and Borger to assume that the IDF went on the rampage far too often, without being curbed at all.

One example of the Guardian’s readiness to distort the picture and omit vital information was the Physicians for Human Rights’ case against the Prime Minister of Israel and others in which they accused the IDF in their petition of deliberately firing on medical personnel “in many cases” while they were carrying out their duties and deliberately prevented them from evacuating the wounded in a timely fashion.  The case was heard in the Supreme Court sitting in the High Court of Justice in Israel.  It goes without saying that the fact that it was heard so speedily at a time of war is an indication of how seriously the Israeli justice system takes such accusations.

According to the IDF, from intelligence information that they had in their possession it transpired that terrorists were making use of ambulances to carry out terrorist activity and to transport rockets and ammunition from one place to another, and in these circumstances even international humanitarian law provided that these protected institutions lose the protection that they usually enjoy.  Having made that argument, however, they accepted that in firefights it is not always possible to ensure that innocent people are never harmed, that where this happened it was never done intentionally but was as a result of hostilities which had been taking place in the vicinity.

The judges rejected the petition, but the allegation remains at the Guardian without mention of that very important fact.

In short, the Guardian does what it does best in this section.  It vilifies and lies about Israel and it reduces the Palestinians to passive objects lacking moral agency, who it believes cannot speak out for themselves, and on whose behalf it also promulgates lies.  In its indecent emphasis, (which should not be surprising when one considers its obsessive focus) on Israel’s misdeeds, it ignores the part it plays in the perpetuation of the abuse of the Palestinian people by Hamas and the latter’s own war crimes against Israeli civilians for which the Guardian would have it absolved.

In the case I have referred to above and in other matters the IDF conducted its own enquiries into the complaints made about its soldiers’ misconduct.  Five investigatory teams were involved in the enquiries, and among the conclusions were:

“..The investigations showed that throughout the fighting in Gaza, the IDF operated in accordance with international law. The IDF maintained a high professional and moral level while facing an enemy that aimed to terrorize Israeli civilians whilst taking cover amidst uninvolved civilians in the Gaza strip and using them as human shields. Notwithstanding this, the investigations revealed a very small number of incidents in which intelligence or operational errors took place during the fighting. These unfortunate incidents were unavoidable and occur in all combat situations, in particular of the type which Hamas forced on the IDF, by choosing to fight from within the civilian population….

” In accordance with usual practice, a summary of each investigation will also be presented to the Military Advocate General, who is entitled to decide whether additional checks need to be done or if there is the basis for opening another type of investigation. His decision is entirely independent and he is subject only to the law.

“Due to their significance, the conclusions of the investigations and the opinion of the Military advocate will be presented for review to the Attorney General.”

I shall not be holding my breath for demands for a similar enquiry by Hamas, which actively perpetrates human rights abuses against its own people and pursues its stated objective of eradicating the Jewish state. 

Rather, Hamas’ agenda before, during and after Cast Lead was perfectly summed up by Colonel Richard Kemp, from his own extensive experience of fighting insurgency in Afghanistan.   In an address to the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs on 18 June, 2009, he said:

“… I have spoken of the considerable British and American efforts to operate within the laws of war and to reduce unnecessary civilian casualties.  But what of the Israeli Defence Forces?   The IDF face all the challenges that I have spoken about, and more.  Not only was Hamas’s military capability deliberately positioned behind the of the civilian population and not only did Hamas employ the range of insurgent tactics I talked through earlier.  They also ordered, forced when necessary, men, women and children , from their own population to stay put in places they knew were about to be attacked by the IDF.  Fighting an enemy that is deliberately trying to sacrifice their own people.  Deliberately trying to lure you in to killing their own innocent civilians.

“And Hamas, like Hizballah, are also highly expert at driving the media agenda.  They will always have people ready to give interviews condemning Israeli forces for war crimes.  They are adept at staging and distorting incidents.

“Their people often have no option than to go along with the charades in front of the world’s media that Hamas so frequently demand, often on pain of death…”

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The tangled web they weave – the eminence noir behind the “Freedom Flotilla 2″

The IDF is well-versed in maritime and other law.  Israel knows that it must apply its blockade unequivocally across the board, to all maritime traffic regardless of where it is from, if it is not to have an Iranian-armed next-door neighbour in Hamas.   Hamas’ Charter sets out what it wants to be able to do to Israel and Israel cannot let that happen. This means that no matter how many boats attempt to run the blockade, however misplaced their righteous indignation when they are collared and arrested and sent home or banned for ten years from Israel; however violently they resist being boarded, Israel cannot afford to let them through, and not only because the first part of the Turkel Commission’s report of the enquiry by the UN into the last flotilla has ruled that the blockade of Gaza is legal.

Nevertheless in spite of warnings from the Israeli and US governments that participation in the “Freedom Flotilla 2″ would constitute an illegal act, boatloads of useful idiots for Islamism  and more than a few from the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) will try to descend upon Gaza in the coming days from various countries.

Many have at least one thing in common – ignorance, wilful or genuine, of the true motives behind the over-publicised attempt to break the blockade of Gaza.  Others hate Jews but would have us believe that their animus is directed against the “Zionist entity.”

Some, however, are not so easily fooled, or blind to the obvious even though they may support the flotilla.  This from the Radio Nederlands webpage shows us how the scales fell from the eyes of this reporter and several others as they all jumped ship.  Note in particular:

“.. Things started going wrong from the very beginning. During our first meeting on the Greek island of Corfu, we received the usual latest updates, and then one of the organisers informed us that one of the Dutch journalists had leaked secret information to the most popular Dutch daily about the mission. She was furious: No one is as open as the Free Gaza Foundation, she proclaimed indignantly.

“But I have worked as a journalist for the past 25 years, and never have I experienced such a closed organisation…”


“… After this welcoming message, she explained the ground rules to us. There were many, many non-negotiables. “If you don’t accept this, you can’t come along.” I wanted to make a video report, filming the two days of obligatory training sessions to convey a sense of how the activists were preparing for the mission. But the organisation declared numerous sessions off-limits. I and the other Dutch journalists present explained that we needed this footage to do our work. But she wouldn’t have it. “I have worked with CNN, Al Jazeera, BBC, and no one has been as demanding as you Dutch reporters.”

“Eventually there was a hand count and the activists voted us out of those sessions. We journalists all felt that a schism had been created for no reason. We also began to lose faith and trust in the organisation, both essential ingredients when undertaking such a risky trip….

And also:


“I expressed an interest in joining the mission earlier this year when I heard that the Dutch were going to send their own vessel to Gaza for the first time. There would be over 30 participants, including prominent members of Dutch society. An Italian delegation with 20 people would also take part.

“I then attended meeting after meeting in various cities in Holland. I had to be screened because – I was told – there were so many people wanting to travel to Gaza. When the organisers called to say I had passed the screening and been chosen as one of the select group of people who would set sail, I felt obliged to express my joy.”


“Now, back in the Netherlands, over three months later, I feel deceived. There never was a “select group”. There were no prominent Dutch figures interested in joining Freedom Flotilla2. Instead of 32 people from the Netherlands, the organisation managed to assemble just eight activists and four journalists. Yesterday [Monday], two more journalists decided to jump ship before the boat even left the port of Corfu.

“Since day one, journalists, including myself, asked questions about the Dutch organisation and the boat, for example about the funding. Even simple questions about the ship’s power supply for me to hook up my satellite transmitter. The answer was consistently: “I’ll get back to you about that” or “we don’t know”. I’m still waiting for answers…..”

Note also the persistence of the flotilla members’ delusions in spite of this journalist’s sensible advice.  If his account is at all representative of the members’ experiences, it seems that this flotilla is the archetypal camel which started out as a horse but was designed by a committee.

Delve a little deeper than he did, however, and you come to the real motives behind this fun-loving, “peaceful” jaunt.  The flotilla is organised by none other than Muhammad Sawalha, from the safety of the UK (the government of which allows him a free hand to do so whilst decrying the Islamist terrorism his organisation supports).  Sawalha is the excessively litigious representative of the Ikhwan there.

Sawalha’s influence is great and stretches far.  He has been allowed to get away with most of his activities because the strong suit of the Ikhwan and of other Islamist bodies in the UK is to despise western democracy on the one hand whilst using its laws to try to stifle debate about or criticism of their behaviour on the other (see AKUS’ article and also here, and here).  As AKUS has said Muhammad Sawalha’s spiteful yet successful machinations behind the Spectator’s ignominious appeasement of his particularly repulsive form of Ikhwan bullying, would not be tolerated in the USA.   However, the Ikhwan has the measure of the spinelessness of successive UK governments whose over-eager attempts to engage with Islamist extremists has blinded them to Islamist’s real agenda and has set a woeful precedent for more such goings on.   The most polite explanation of the UK’s behaviour is that it cannot realise that it is sending mixed messages to Islamists, but this monumental oversight (if allowing an avowedly antisemitic Islamist into the UK after having issued an exclusion order against him only the previous week can be called a mere oversight) almost beggars belief!

Given that the “Freedom Flotilla 2″ is organised by Sawalha from the safe haven of the UK (the same Ikhwan who, remember, are brothers of Hamas) and is probably carrying Ikhwan members, can we really expect them to behave peacefully and respond peacefully to Israel’s demands to be allowed to board and to be towed into Ashdod?   Hardly.  Even the Guardian’s soul mate in Israel, Ha’aretz, ran a story which cast doubt on that.  It matters little whether they are carrying letters, balloons, hearing aids, or tons of bubble gum – it is important to the Ikhwan that they break the blockade for the reasons I have set out above, and particularly in view of the following:

In January 3 2002, the Israeli Navy and Air Force seized the Karine-A, purchased by the Palestinian Authority and loaded with 50 tons of weaponry supplied by Iran and Hizb’allah, which it planned to transfer to the Palestinian Naval Police force on Gaza beach near El Arish.  According to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

“…The shipment included both 122 mm and 107 mm Katyusha rockets, which have ranges of 20 and 8 kilometers respectively. It also contained 80 mm. and 120 mm. mortar shells, various types of anti-tank missiles, anti-tank mines, sniper rifles, Kalashnikov rifles and ammunition. From Gaza, the 122 mm. Katyushas could have threatened Ashkelon and other coastal cities; while from the West Bank, Ben-Gurion International Airport and several major Israeli cities would have been within their range….”

Also on board was equipment which could have facilitated seaborne attacks from Gaza against coastal cities in Israel.

On March 15 2011, Israeli Navy commandos seized a cargo ship, the German-owned “Victoria”, in the Mediterranean, while it was en route to Alexandria, from whence the Iranian arms and ammunition it was carrying would be smuggled into Gaza via tunnels from Egypt. Iran, of course, denied it had supplied the arms.

Arms and ammunition, almost certainly from Iran, continue to be smuggled into Gaza via tunnels from Egypt where the ships that transport them dock.

It should be evident that this apparently benign bunch of useful idiots is mere window dressing for the Ikhwan’s attempt to undermine the legality of the blockade.   If they are allowed to break the blockade then Israel will not be able to apply it legally against the boatloads of arms and ammunition which will inevitably be sent by sea to Gaza from Iran in future.

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The BDS contagion spreads to ULU

We hear from Daphne Anson’s blog that the BDS contagion has spread to Europe’s largest student union in London.   According to the BDS Movement’s announcement, the ULU (which represents students at the colleges which comprise the University of London in the UK) has voted, apparently overwhelmingly at 10 – 1, to adopt a resolution in favour of BDS.

This should not be surprising, given the pattern of entryist activity which seems to feed BDS and to follow it around like a bad smell through student bodies in the UK and particularly in London, coupled with the glaring lack of presence of UK-based Israel or Jewish student unions at such debates, but the “overwhelming” vote of confidence in the motion merits much closer examination before we accept it without question:

My source tells me that this majority is in fact the result of block voting. It seems that the university Senate operates in a similar way to the UK Parliament, where the population elects MPs who in turn, make decisions informed by debates at meetings unless they are otherwise instructed by their students

I would like to know whether this motion was fully debated in every institution and by what size majority the vote for BDS was carried and have asked my source to try to find out exactly how many individual students gave instructions to their representatives to vote for and how many against (so as to get a more accurate reading of whether there is indeed such overwhelming support for BDS) but am told that even the President elect of the ULU is in total ignorance of the statistics and has referred my source back to the ULU itself.

To suggest reasons for the ULU’s apparent BDS “success” we need only to refer to the history of the UK Labour party and its experience of the extreme Left’s use of block voting to carry its own agenda.  The following snippet from a paper about Labour’s electoral nadir may begin the process:

"…. The 1979 Conference approved a proposal to examine the issue of re-selection and suggest a Constitutional amendment which would be placed before the 1980 Conference. At that conference, the amendment was passed by 3,798,000 votes for to 3,341,000 against (RACLP, 1980: 297).7   Under the new rules therefore, all MPs faced a larger degree of constraint and uncertainty in their actions, since any Member whose opinions differed from their local constituency activists now faced the prospect of losing their jobs, even if they were preferred by the majority of the constituency’s electorate. …

(   7 At this time, the high figures were due to the trade union ‘block votes’, which reflected the size of the unions, rather than the individual members of the Labour Party itself. Under the block voting system, trade unions controlled ninety per cent of votes at the Party Conference.) “

My emphasis is at footnote 7.

Note that the author says that the high voting figures are as a result of the trade union block votes and reflected the size of the unions rather than individual Labour Party members.  The sentence following that may provide a clue as to why there seems to be apparently overwhelming support for BDS at ULU.  Note also the reference to the power of activists in the following:

“… Under the new rules therefore, all MPs faced a larger degree of constraint and uncertainty in their actions, since any Member whose opinions differed from their local constituency activists now faced the prospect of losing their jobs, even if they were preferred by the majority of the constituency’s electorate..”

Using the same analogy, I ask readers to consider whether representatives who disagreed with BDS would be “deselected” in favour of those who would carry forward the motion?  I am intrigued by the one brave soul who stood against it and the number of students he/she claimed to represent.  As I noted above, I asked my source to try to get those “for” and “against” figures, in terms of numbers of students who were consulted or who voted, from the ULU. 

Somehow I doubt that they will be forthcoming.   If I receive them I shall update this article accordingly. In the meantime, I would suggest that we take the BDS Movement’s allegedly overwhelming victory with a huge pinch of salt.

Open letter to the Quakers of Britain in response to their support for BDS

Dear Quakers in Britain.

I read your press release dated 5th April 2011, which I am afraid, evidences your woeful grasp of the complexity of the situation in the Middle East.  I quote directly from your release below, and my reply follows.  I have read that Quakers hold that an authentic Christian belief results in both an inward faith and an outward expression of that faith.  Nowhere can I find a reference which enjoins Quakers to sit in judgement about matters with which they cannot possibly be fully informed.  Neither do Quaker teachings enjoin Friends to be blind to the consequences of their actions to promote peace when these actions favour one side over the other, and when these result in the favoured side believing that the methods it resorts to (however violent and deadly) are supported by decent people:

“Quakers in Britain have agreed to boycott products from the Israeli settlements in the West Bank.  The settlements are illegal under international law. Quakers consider that this boycott is a nonviolent move for peace for Israelis and Palestinians. The decision makes clear that Quakers are not boycotting Israel.

“Half a million Israeli settlers live illegally in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem). The settlements and infrastructure on Palestinian land are protected by the Israeli government and military and prevent or restrict Palestinians access to their land, water supplies, education, health services and more. Extensive settlement infrastructure divides up Palestinian land, creating obstacles to peace.

There is much that is wrong and shows lack of informed thinking about the above. I would refer you to the arguments of the late Professor Julius Stone—considered one of the premier legal theorists —who maintained that the effort to designate Israeli settlements as illegal was a “subversion. . . of basic international law principles.

Stone drew upon the writings of Professor Stephen Schwebel, former judge on the Hague’s International Court of Justice (1981-2000), who distinguished between territory acquired in an “aggressive conquest” (such as Japanese conquests during the 1930s and Nazi conquests during World War II) and territory taken in a war of self-defense (for example, Israel’s capture of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1967 war). He also distinguished between the taking of territory that is legally held by another nation (such as the Japanese occupation of Chinese territory and the Nazi Germany occupation of France, Holland, Belgium and other European lands) as opposed to the taking of territory illegally held. The latter applies to the West Bank and Gaza, which were not considered the legal territories of any High Contracting Party when Israel won control of them; their occupation after 1948 by Jordan and Egypt was illegal and neither country ever had lawful or recognized sovereignty. The last legal sovereignty over the territories was that of the League of Nations Palestine Mandate which encouraged Jewish settlement of the land.

Article 49 was intended to outlaw the Nazi practice of forcibly transporting populations into or out of occupied territories to death and work camps  and thus cannot be applied to Israel because Arab residents were neither forcibly transferred, nor were Israelis intended to (nor do they) displace Arab residents of the territories. Arabs continue to live in these territories and their population continues to grow.

As for Israel preventing access to medical services from the West Bank, this, too, is one-sided and therefore questionable.  This is one of many joint projects.  I am surprised that you did not mention it, or this. See also the Save a Child’s Heart Project, which treats Palestinian children and others from around the world.

“Palestinian Quakers are calling for Quakers around the world to consider boycott, divestment and sanctions because of the worsening situation caused by Israel’s occupation. The decision was made on Saturday (2 April) by the representative decision-making body for Quakers in Britain, Meeting for Sufferings. The Meeting has not yet considered a Quaker view on divestment and sanctions.

The “worsening situation”(where it exists) is primarily caused by the support of Mahmud Abbas who praises the perpetrators of terror on the one hand, whilst mouthing platitudes about peace with Israel in public on the other.   The glorification of terror against Israeli civilians and the teaching of it and  Jew-hatred in PA schools and on children’s television  is reprehensible and is itself an infringement of children’s human rights which the Quakers would do better to address than to castigate Israel.  The threats of violence from these are the principal reasons for the continuation of the checkpoints on the West Bank. The most recent example of the outcome of Palestinian support for terror was in the massacre at Itamar.

I note that your statement makes no mention of the improvement in economic and other standards in the West Bank, nor does it seem to have considered the likely impact on the standard of living and quality of life of ordinary people there if your boycott were to go ahead.

“The Meeting heard that most Jewish Israeli peace groups support boycotts of settlement products.

Many Israeli peace groups (and I note that you add the “Jewish” as a spurious attempt to convince the reader that because Jews themselves support it, boycott must be tenable) do not speak for the majority of intelligent people, Jews or otherwise .  Please read also, “Don’t divest, invest.

“People matter more than territory’ says the minute from the Meeting. And, ‘We pray fervently for both Israelis and Palestinians, keeping them together in our hearts. We hope they will find an end to their fears and the beginning of their mutual co-existence based on a just peace. And so we look forward to the end of the occupation and the end of the international boycott.’

You say that you pray “fervently” for Israelis and Palestinians and yet you continue to castigate only one side!

By so doing you undermine what you say next above, about mutual co-existence.  By blindly supporting the Palestinian narrative without once demanding the same decency and humane behaviour from them as you demand from Israel, you reinforce their execrable behaviour towards Israel. Mahmud Abbas, in spite of his honeyed words in public about peace with Israel and his condemnation of the murders in Itamar, glorified terror in public within days of those murders.  I have not read an update of your press release in which you condemn this infamy, or even recognise it, or indicate in any way your understanding that it is a mockery of the Palestinian role in any peace process.  Israelis, too, look forward to peace, but not if one of its conditions is that they commit collective suicide!

“In the face of the armed oppression of poor people and the increasing encroachment of the illegal settlements in the West Bank, we cannot do nothing,’ the minute continued.”

“You cannot do nothing” but you need not resort to ill-researched, half-baked declamations by people whose minds are already made up before you rush to judgement.  As I have written above, the economy of the West Bank is growing apace, and whereas I can readily believe that there are poor among the citizens of the West Bank just as there are poor anywhere, there is really no need to resort to emotive language, such as “armed oppression.”  PA television broadcasts programmes which endorse terrorism and Jew-hatred, and this is taught to children in school.  These are infringements of their human rights.  Why are you not outraged about these, out of which grew the ideology which led to the massacres at Itamar?

“‘We are clear then that it would be wrong to support the illegal settlements by purchasing their goods. We therefore ask Friends (Quakers) throughout Britain Yearly Meeting to boycott settlement goods, until such time as the occupation is ended.”

I suppose that there is no law against boycott, but see above for my reference to why it should not be resorted to.  Everyone suffers, Palestinians most of all, and in any case it will not work.  Quakers may feel aglow with misplaced self-righteousness if they boycott Israeli settlement  goods,  but rest assured that your actions will be a drop in the ocean. Those of us who believe that you are misguided and un-Christian will buy even more Israeli settlement produce.

“Quakers consider that this boycott builds on their other nonviolent moves for peace in the region. Since 2002 Quakers in Britain have trained human rights observers for the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). The observers, called ecumenical accompaniers, work with Palestinians and Israelis to promote nonviolence by their protective presence, to monitor human rights abuses and to advocate for an end to the Israeli occupation.”

I say again that Quaker “nonviolent” moves for peace in the region, as long as they ignore the excessive Palestinian violence and fail to condemn that in like terms, serve only to rubber stamp that violence.  If your “trained” observers continue to promote this then they and you are complicit in terror because your “protective presence” must be negligible.


She’s baaaack

Harriet Sherwood is back online to give us the benefit of her “wisdom” on the terror attack in Jerusalem.

The article is a mixture of statements of the obvious – I give you,

“… Its impact will be felt far beyond the people injured in the blast and those who witnessed the explosion….”

Well, yes…

As well as (curiously enough, given that it’s Harriet writing), a glimmer of understanding of why the IDF was engaged in acting against Hamas-linked terrorists in Gaza.

She even acknowledges that Hamas was responsible for the firing of the 50 or so mortar shells into Israel (although she couches it in somewhat equivocal terms).

She goes on to refer to the pressure on Hamas to do something for the armed struggle in order to satisfy the Palestinian people, (and here, totally unwittingly, she alludes to the fantasy ideology which has driven much of Hamas’ mad and fruitless acting out, which I have discussed in-depth elsewhere on CiF Watch).

So far so mediocre and hardly her usual offensive self, but let us not forget that she writes for the Guardian and sure enough later in the article out it comes:

“…. It is far too early to say what Wednesday’s bus blast heralds. But, at the very least, it is bound to reinforce Netanyahu’s belief that Israel has “no partner for peace”, a phrase that brings bitter laughter from observers who say Israel shows little sign of wanting to make peace…. “

Pardon me?

Is Harriet seriously trying to argue that Netanyahu is WRONG to believe that Israel has no partner for peace in the PA?  Dear Harriet, permit me to offer a little lesson in reality testing since you and your colleagues at the Guardian seem, (how shall I say?) somewhat deficient in this area:

You yourself admitted that there was a terrorist act in Jerusalem (OK you didn’t actually call it a “terrorist” act, unlike William Hague, the British Foreign Minister who condemned it in those terms, but you compared it to the terror attacks during the second intifada)

You then, quite correctly, named Hamas as the main culprits in the shelling of southern Israel. So far so good but hang on in, because this is where it may get difficult for you to understand:

True, Abbas condemned the massacre at Itamar, but on the day after that massacre he dedicated a town square to the memory of a suicide murderer!

Is this the action of a man who (a) tells the truth or (b) says only what he thinks his audience want to hear, and on the strength of that (c) can be trusted to mean what he says and (d) is therefore a reliable partner for peace?  The man is a proven liar.

In light of the foregoing, how on earth can the Israeli government possibly believe that the PA means to make a lasting peace with Israel? How can Abbas be trusted as a partner for peace, whether in quotes or not, or whether it evokes “bitter laughter” or not from observers?  It seems more and more likely that the bombers in the latest atrocity came from the West Bank, and if so they were very probably cranked up by his public adulation of terrorism!

Now, stay with me Harriet, because there’s more which underlines the nonsensical nature of what lies beneath your statement above:

Let’s go back to the Jerusalem bombing and more particularly to the Palestinian reaction to it.

So far as I am aware there have been no street celebrations or handing out candy as there was in Ramallah after the Fogel family were murdered, but Elder of Ziyon’s blog tells us the following, which ought to reinforce the belief that Israel actually has no partner for peace and which ought to convince even you:

Elder quotes from the Palestine Times which is a Hamas mouthpiece, but no matter:

…. Despite condemnation by the Fatah leadership, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas and his Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and described that operation as “terrorist”, there was joy in the street despite the pain experienced in the cities of the West Bank.

Upon hearing the news of a bus bombing in Jerusalem, citizens hurried to the coffee shops to follow-up on television news channels and radio stations to track the latest developments.

Abu Mohammed from Nablus, sitting in a café, said: “By God, it’s about time for such operations, which warms our hearts and the hearts of all who [suffer] from the oppression of the occupier recently.” ……

There are those who expressed their joy of such events. Samira from Ramallah: “When I saw the breaking news on one of the satellite TV news and there was an explosion on Jerusalem, the joy made my heart stop.”

A young man recalled happy memories of Tulkarm for operations similar to what happened today…

Others Palestinian citizens went into social networking sites like Facebook and forums on the World Wide Web, to express their joy and the news firsthand….” (emphases added)

So, what do we have, Harriet?

Abbas, a confirmed liar, who condemns barbarism out of one side of his mouth whilst out of the other he praises the perpetrators of such barbarism, and also the ordinary people of the West Bank, whose opinions are, we are meant to believe, representative of the majority and who feel joy and warmth in their hearts when Israeli Jews are killed and injured.

However, you may be able to redeem yourself, Harriet.

To do so you must write an intelligent, thoughtful and analytical article, based on fact and in objective reality about why you think Netanyahu is wrong to believe that Israel has no partner for peace in the West Bank, and supply us with evidence for your conclusions rather than your own half-baked opinions.

Then, who knows, you will be entitled to call yourself journalist.  Though, you may subsequently be sacked from the Guardian.

Boycott and be damned?

Young students are idealistic and enthusiastic.  Being so they are ideal foot soldiers for the cynical manipulations of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns run internationally.

The Global BDS Movement publishes the following on its web page.  Note that it is posted by StoptheWall (their first mistake, since the security fence is a wall for a small percentage of its length, in order to prevent sniper fire on Israeli civilians) and is principally driven by the Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott Initiative (PACBI):

“It is no longer denied that Israel has oppressed the Palestinian people for decades in multiple forms: occupying, colonizing, ethnically cleansing, racially discriminating, in short, denying Palestinians the fundamental rights for freedom, equality and self-determination. Despite abundant condemnation of Israel’s policies by the UN and all relevant international conventions, the international community of nations has failed to bring about Israel’s compliance with international law or its respect for basic human rights. Israel’s crimes have continued with utter impunity. The time has come for action, not just words. BDS are the most effective non-violent, morally consistent means for achieving justice and genuine peace in the region through concerted international pressure similar to that applied on South African apartheid.”

Note the emotive buzz words in the passage above, acceptable now because of the widely adopted “Big Lie” principle – in that they have been repeated unchallenged for so long that they are accepted as being true.  The page is aimed at the converted and those lacking in the capability to think critically or question what they read.  Note also that in spite of their arguments BDS campaigns have been wildly unsuccessful.

However, while many university societies may vote to boycott Israeli goods from their refectories, the boycott of Israeli academics is still illegal, at least in the UK, which of course begs the question of why the Global BDS movement should promote such activities on its web page.

Above all the BDS movement is amoral and immoral in its focus solely on the one democratic state in the Middle East on which to vent its spleen, and in its wilful ignorance of and enduring silence about heinous human rights abuses in other countries around the world, particularly Arab/Muslim ones.  The Global BDS Movement does not question, for example, the gender apartheid system of Saudi Arabia, a Muslim country which also allows no Jews to enter nor Christians to worship and which still tolerates a form of modern slavery. There are no condemnations either of the inferior status of women under Palestinian rule or the practice by Palestinians of honour killings of women or their use of women as suicide bombers, until the erection of the security fence, sometimes in atonement for alleged infringements of family honour.

The BDS Movement seems also to be totally unaware of or not interested in apartheid against Palestinians in Arab countries .

One cannot help but wonder what drives the BDS movement, apart from the consummate manipulators of PACBI who hate Israel alone and are wilfully blind to human rights abuses against their own people, particularly their children, by the PA and Hamas, and are far more willing than is healthy to use the student community around the world as grist to their mill of hatred.  PACBI are also master practitioners of the autorhinectomy (the act of cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face) and have little or no realisation of the long-term effects on Palestinians if any boycott were to be successful (see also here and here ).

All these albeit risible and abortive attempts to boycott Israel are simply proof if any were needed that UK Universities, far from being champions of freedom of thought and expression, have become bastions of bigotry and enemies of the free and open exchange of ideas.

I believe that most BDS campaigns on UK campuses generate more heat than light, which is what they are designed to do since many of the Global BDS Movement’s claims would not bear close scrutiny by an informed reader.  The latest UK university to climb upon the BOYCOTT ISRAEL!!!! bandwagon was the Students for Justice for Palestine at Edinburgh, which released a statement to the press on 16th March:

Firstly, note the disparity between the overblown headline and this little sentence embedded in the body of the release:

“.. Despite the meeting requiring over 300 students to attend for it to be quorate and for decisions taken to be binding, the huge level of student support for the motion means that EUSA will be under severe student pressure to adopt it as official policy…”

OK. The meeting was of a sub-group of the students at the university.  It was not quorate (which meant that any decisions, votes etc were not binding), and less than 300 students attended (presumably the rest could not be bothered to do so), and yet this cream of the intelligentsia who will rule our futures declare it a victory for boycott!  In the light of the foregoing, the remainder of the press release is so much fluff that it scarcely bears mention.  It is a testament to self-delusion.

It has obviously escaped the Edinburgh boycotters that Israel is one of the world leaders in certain fields of science and technology. Last year Israel filed over 9000 patents, Iran filed only 50. If they really want to institute BDS, then they will have to do it retrospectively and stop using any technological progress that has come out of Israel during the past 60 years: computer technology, complex machinery, medicines, advanced medical technology, agricultural innovations, etc. (Or did they think that Israel’s only exports were dates and olives?). (H/T to NapoleonKaramazov on CiF)

Bearing all these in mind, please consider emailing the Students for Justice for Palestinians at edinburghsjp@gmail.com with a copy of this article, and in the spirit of education about some of what Israel contributes to the world.  Also, in order to set a good example to the mindless masses at their seat of learning, here are a very few of Israeli advances in science and technology they should refuse to have anything to do with:

Firstly, the must-have for all students, the flash memory stick. This was first developed in Israel by Dov Moran as SanDisk and DiskonKey. In 2005, PC World named the DiskOnKey one of the world’s top 10 gadgets in the last 50 years.  Edinburgh students who support BDS are therefore strongly advised to dispose of all of their flash memory sticks, since they are derived from an Israeli concept.

One hopes that all Edinburgh students will remain in the best of health, but anyone suffering from acne should avoid this preferring rather to remain spotty in solidarity with Palestine.   Far better to be a spotty Herbert than an unblemished hypocrite!

Also, if a student should need medical investigations , s/he should avoid the now widely used camera in a pill preferring rather to undergo the rather less comfortable endoscopy.  Choose discomfort over hypocrisy!

In the field of energy conservation, however green a student may be it is best avoid this at all costs if s/he is to remain true to what passes for principles!  Far better to bite the bullet (or in this case, the battery) and pollute the earth than to support an Israeli concept and a clean universe!

Finally, if Israel boycotters  got a Kindle for Christmas, they should throw them out! Kindle was largely developed in Israel. Better stick to space-consuming heavy books which they have to tote around than use an Israeli-made product, however convenient.

There are many, many more.  Die-hard boycotters should do their own research.  Good hunting and the best of luck with resits!!

In the Arab world but not of it? Glaring omission underlines the anti-Israel bias of the BBC

One used to be able to associate the dear old BBC with good old British fair play – you know the sort of thing, balanced reporting, the right to reply, offering all sides of every argument, and so on.   Not so as far as Israel is concerned. The ongoing BBC series “Letters to the Arab World”, in a glaring admission of bias, once again stifles Israel’s voice.

This morning I listened to BBC Radio 4’s latest Letter to the Arab World from Rajah Sadeh, a Palestinian from Ramallah, to a friend in Egypt.

I really did try to hear him out.  The letter was poetic enough, but hardly balanced. Sadeh waxed lyrical about Tahrir Square and the fight for “democracy” (but made no mention of, for example, the mayhem there or the rape of Lara Logan, which even the Guardian admitted was a brutal assault) and got so carried away that it included a description of the togetherness of modern Egyptians with the Muslim Brotherhood. He wanted the same for his country. He seemed proud that he had participated in the Intifada, although he didn’t describe exactly how, but he gave no indication where he stood in relation to the suicide murder and terror his people had initiated then and since before the beginning of the Jewish state.

This combination of magical thinking and selectivity irritated me.  His broadcast was infuriating in terms of what it left out – the PA anti-Semitic incitement and glorification of terrorism whilst mouthing platitudes about peace.  Further, at a time when decent people are shocked and disgusted by the murder, by Palestinian terrorists, of members of the Fogel family, his failure to acknowledge that such terror is principally to blame for his people’s suffering represents a glaring moral abdication.

Like it or not, Israel lives among Arab nations, and yet the BBC has made another glaring admission of bias by not allowing a letter from one of her writers to the Arab people.

That imbalance needs to be redressed.  The following letter to a Palestinian neighbour from Yossi Klein Halevi, written before the 1st Intifada but very relevant today, would be an excellent addition, but would no doubt be more than the BBC could cope with because it is dignified, measured, and  lacking in self-pity or overblown rhetoric, and it goes against the BBC’s avowed pro-Arab stance.  I reproduce what I believe are the best parts of it here in full, because its poetry deserves to be remembered, but please read the full version!

Letter to a Palestinian Neighbor
by Yossi Klein Halevi

Once before the Terror War, a time that seems now to belong not just technically but substantively to another millennium, I undertook a one-man pilgrimage into your mosques and churches seeking to know you in your intimate spiritual moments. I went as a believing Jew praying and meditating with you wherever you allowed me to enter into your devotional life. My intention was to transcend however briefly the political abyss between us by experiencing together something of presence of God. And I wanted to learn how to feel comfortable in the Middle East’s religious cultures because I believed that the Jewish homecoming would be complete only when the Jewish state were no longer in exile from the Middle East. …..

The dark side of the Muslim reconciliation with death of course are the suicide bombers. But I learned too that acceptance of mortality can be the basis for a religious language of reconciliation. Repeatedly Palestinians would say to me, “Why are you and I arguing over who owns the land when in the end the land will own us both?” That wise ability to place our earthly claims and struggles in the context of our shared condition of mortality gave me hope that peace between us may someday be possible.

But I learned too during numerous candid conversations with Palestinians at all levels of society that in practice few within your nation are willing to concede that I have a legitimate claim to any part of this land. I will cite one telling example. During my journey into Islam in Gaza I met General Nasser Youssef (who at the time of our meeting was head of one of the Palestinian security forces and is now the PA Interior Minister). At one point during our conversation I asked the general to describe his vision of the relations between a Jewish state and a Palestinian state after we signed a peace agreement.

“Let’s assume,” I said, “that Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders uproots the settlements and redivides Jerusalem: What then?”  He replied that once the refugees begin returning to the area so many would gravitate to those areas in Israel where their families once lived that eventually we would realize there was no need for an artificial border between Israel and Palestine. The next step continued the general was that the two states would merge. “And then we’ll invite Jordan to join our federation. And Iraq and Syria. Why not? We’ll show the whole world what a beautiful country Jews and Arabs can create together.”

“But,” I asked the general, “Aren’t we negotiating today over a two-state solution?”  “Yes,” he replied, “as an interim step.” And then he added, “You aren’t separate from us; you are part of us. Just as there are Muslim Arabs and Christian Arabs, you are Jewish Arabs.”

This story is particularly relevant because General Youssef is widely known as a moderate deeply opposed to terror as counter-productive to the Palestinian cause. And so what I learned in my journeys into your society is that moderation means one thing on the Israeli side and quite another on the Palestinian side. …

My journey into the faiths of my neighbors was part of a much broader attempt among Israelis begun during the first intifada to understand your narrative how the conflict looks through your eyes.  Your society on the other hand has made virtually no effort to understand our narrative.

Instead you have developed what can be called a culture of denial that denies the most basic truths of the Jewish story. According to this culture of denial which is widespread not only among your people but throughout the Arab world there was no Temple in Jerusalem no ancient Jewish presence in the land no Holocaust. Nowhere is The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as popular as in the Arab world which has also become the international center for Holocaust denial.

The real problem then is not terrorism which is only a symptom for a deeper affront: your assault on my history and identity your refusal to allow me to define myself which is a form of intellectual terror.  In your society’s official embrace through media and schools and mosques of the culture of denial you have tried to reinvent us to redefine us out of our national existence. ….

You have always found ample justification for saying no to compromise. And from your point of view you had absolute justice on your side. But with each violent rejection of an international attempt to end the conflict the map of potential Palestine has gotten smaller. In 1937 you were offered 80 percent of the land; in 1947 45 percent; in 2000 22 percent. And now that self-destructive pattern has once again played itself out in the Terror War; with unilateral withdrawal and the fence the map of potential Palestine has just gotten smaller.
A majority of Israelis I am convinced are ready in principle to make previously unthinkable concessions to end the conflict. Yet that same majority is likewise convinced that no matter what concessions we offer we will not win peace and legitimacy in return. For that reason I believe that the onus for ending this conflict has now shifted to your side. Many Israelis have made the conceptual breakthrough necessary for peace between us; but we will remain entrenched behind our fence until we sense a shift in attitudes on your side. …

The tragedy of our conflict is that history gave each of us no choice. The logic of our history demanded our return here — and not just because we were persecuted in exile but because exile from this land was always seen by Jews as an unnatural condition a spiritual offense against Judaism’s deepest sense of itself. Yet just as the logic of our history impelled us to return so the logic of your history impelled you to resist our return. ….

Having been privileged to spend time among you I know that most of you are not Nazis just as I know that most of us are not colonialists. We are two traumatized peoples who tragically have projected their most demonic images onto the other. In withdrawing from Gaza we have begun our territorial contraction. Yet can your side stop actively dreaming of destroying us — through terror demographics the Muslim bomb? Can you accept the moral legitimacy — not just temporary political necessity – of a two-state solution?

I wrote above that your people has made “virtually no effort” to understand who we Jews are. One remarkable exception was a pilgrimage of Palestinian Israelis to Auschwitz two years ago. For Palestinian citizens of Israel to reach out to Jews at the height of the intifada was the deepest expression of the generosity of Arab culture. I was privileged to be among the Jewish participants in that Arab initiative. We stood at the crematorium Arabs and Jews holding each other in silence facing the abyss together. At that moment anything seemed possible between us.

Lately perhaps because of the terror lull I have been thinking again about that journey and about the journey I took into your devotional life….. I approached you then b’gova einayim without apology for my presence here or dismissal of your presence. And that is how I dream of being with you again: as fellow indigenous sons of this land which one day will claim us both.

Harriet Sherwood’s reprehensible moral equivalence in reporting the murders in Itamar

We are told that the language we use dictates the way we perceive the world and react to what goes on in it.

This manipulation of discourse is evident in the Guardian and particularly on CiF, both of which are good at cranking up ill feeling towards Israel and Jews but dismally incompetent at providing contextual information to their readership so that they can come to a balanced conclusion about what they are being told.  Harriet Sherwood is an arch-practitioner of this manipulation of discourse and truth, but thankfully she is not very clever at it.

Thus, when she writes about the heart-wrenching murders in Itamar of five members of a Jewish family (among them a baby of only three months old) and two of whom had their throats cut, somehow she cannot bring herself to call the perpetrators of that infamy what they really are – terrorists (for their attack was calculated to instil terror after all) – preferring rather to refer to them as “militants.”

In line with her usual dispensation with any pretence towards ethics and balance, Sherwood then refers to “continued tension” between Palestinian villagers and what she calls “hard-line settlers,” with regular skirmishes over the destruction of olive trees.  She also goes on to tell her no doubt eager readership (many of whom, remember, are being carefully fed whatever nastiness they want to hear about Israel, according to the Guardian’s assistant editor, Michael White) that Itamar is “intensely nationalist-religious” and populated by Jews who believe they have a divine right to the land.

Nowhere in this shabby pretence towards “journalism” is there any mention of the fact that residents of Rafah, in Gaza, came onto the streets to celebrate the murders, and, as their grisly customs dictate, handed out sweets.   One of them declared that joy was a “natural response” to harm inflicted by settlers on the West Bank.  (Our Harriet, of course, would not want to feed that to her readership – it might be too strong meat even for them).

Instead, by mentioning the continuing tension between Palestinians and “hard-line” and “intensely nationalist-religious” settlers (by which, presumably, we are meant to believe that the murderers of Israeli civilians are not in any way hard-line or intensely nationalist-religious, nor did they perpetrate this outrage because they believed they had no divine right to do so), she nastily implies that this poor family was to blame for the violence perpetrated against them.

So, I would like to ask you, Harriet Sherwood:

Do you believe that these terrorists have the right to murder an Israeli family in retribution for the destruction of olive trees?    (Come, come Harriet, YOU have linked the two as though you believe – whatever that might be worth – that the one is responsible for the other, and to raise the question in your readers’ minds.  If you do not believe that to be the case, that the two are not linked, then why mention it at all?)

Why did you not define these perpetrators as terrorists?

Do you believe that murders of innocents are fitting retribution for whatever perceived wrongs perpetrated are against Palestinians , ie do you agree with the terrorist who said that “joy” was a natural, or fitting, or even an understandable reaction to them?

Why have you referred to the residents of Itamar as “hard liners”, without making clear that the Palestinians who attacked them are more hard-line and intensely nationalist-religious, to the extent that they perpetrated murder for their nationalist-religious beliefs and others celebrated that inhuman act?

Finally, a slightly tangential question:   Why is there no opportunity to comment below your piece?   Is there perhaps a glimmer of awareness on your part that you really have galloped headlong out of the realms of decency this time?