Oxfam Distorts, BBC Reports: Jews Stealing land and water from Palestinians

A guest post by Gidon Ben-Zvi, who blogs at Jerusalem State of Mind

On July 5, the BBC published the shocking results of a study recently conducted by the UK charity, Oxfam.

Regurgitating stale stereotypes, the thrust of Oxfam’s report is that Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley area of the West Bank live in a ‘wretched reality’ as a result of settlement expansion and the related restrictions imposed on Palestinians on the use of land, water and movement – all of which, Oxfam claims, are destroying the viability of a future Palestinian state.

Oxfam is correct in its assessment of the Palestinian economy as a veritable basket case. Where this integral part of the “global movement for change” veers into tired dogma is in its singling out of Israel for approbation. Blame Israel first, investigate the facts never.

Regarding Israel’s restrictions on Palestinians’ access to water, this is an old myth that’s occasionally gussied up and tweaked for contemporary audiences. Truth is, Palestinians’ share of aquifers actually increased dramatically once control of the West Bank passed from Jordan to Israel in 1967, despite Israel’s limited water supply.  Indeed much of the water related issues in the Palestinian territories are caused by the failure of the PA to implement Israeli approved projects.  Over half of the wells approved for exploitation of the territory’s Eastern aquifer, for instance, have still not been drilled, though Israel approved permits for the project in 2000. (You can read a detailed fisking of the claim that Israel doesn’t supply Palestinians with enough water, here.)

Palestinian swimming pools in the West Bank. See more such images here: http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=7&x_issue=12&x_article=1486

Another piece of propaganda passing for fact is the unexamined belief that Israeli settlements are being built on land that has been set aside for a future Palestinian state. While Palestinians can and often do challenge Israeli land seizures in court, the very definitions of private and state land in the disputed territories are a legal morass.  Based on titles and deeds, land that is registered becomes private property. But what if there are no documents to prove ownership?

What’s now commonly referred to as the West Bank is territory that fell under the successive administrations of the Ottoman Empire, the British mandate, Jordan and now Israel. During the Ottoman Empire, only small areas of the West Bank were registered to specific owners. Often, villagers would hold land in common to avoid taxes. The British began a more formal land registry based on land use, taxation or house ownership that continued through the Jordanian period.

Legally speaking, and in stark contrast to the BBC’s assertion that settlements are considered illegal under international law…”, it is worth noting Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza Strip in a war of survival. In fact, Israel’s seizing of land in 1967 was, arguably, the ONLY legal acquisition of this territory in the 20th century. As such, the ultimate fate of all disputed territory is a matter to be left for the oft-stalled final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

While the 1993 Oslo Accords attempted to find a resolution to the issues of settlements and borders, a settlement freeze was never a precondition for peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

With regards to the Jordan Valley, its strategic importance along the eastern border of the West Bank makes Israel’s withdrawal a virtual non-starter in future peace talks with the Palestinians.

Since the end of the 1967 war, every Israeli government has considered the Jordan Valley to be the “eastern border” of Israel with Jordan. Most of the strip lying in present-day Israel and the West Bank has been declared state land by the Israeli government. As part of the Oslo Agreements, the strip was classified as Area C, with the exception of the enclave around Jericho

Next, Oxfam goes for the trifecta by reporting that the Palestinians could generate an extra £1bn ($1.5bn) a year if restrictions on their movements, along with the aforementioned land encroachment and water theft, were removed.

Like any other country, Israel must balance humanitarian and economic concerns (of Palestinians, in Israel’s case) with the very real security concerns of its citizens. Barriers, checkpoints and other limitations on mobility are an unfortunate yet vital necessity. Once a comprehensive peace agreement is signed between the Israelis and Palestinians, such security measures will become unnecessary and summarily voided.

For now, however, the best that can be hoped for is the occasional easing of restrictions on movement – dependent, of course, on the diminution of security threats. And Israel has made concerted efforts to oblige. In 2010, for example, Israel issued more than 651,000 entry permits to West Bank residents wishing to travel to Israel, an increase of 42 percent over 2009. In 2009-10, Israel removed more than 200 roadblocks and reduced the number of manned checkpoints from 41 to 14.

Going forward, Oxfam may want to consider laying off the double standards and obsessive condemnations of reasonable responses to terror vis-à-vis Israel. Continuing to do so only serves to cheapen its stated purpose of building “a future free from the injustice of poverty.”

As for the BBC, its publication of the Oxfam report lends credence to the widely held belief that the broadcasting organization relies solely on the Palestinian perspective, and consistently parrots the narrative of “partisan, agenda-driven” Israeli organizations critical of Israel.

One kick: The Guardian’s 37 seconds in Hebron.

The original video of an incident in Hebron involving an Israeli Border Policeman and a Palestinian youth, posted on YouTube by B’Tselem on June 29, lasts 2 minutes.

The video, shot through a gap in a building overlooking the Hebron street where the policeman was patrolling, hovers over the same small area for 1 minute and 16 seconds before the incident took place.

The videographer was lying in wait.

At the 1:16 mark, we see a Palestinian child walk by at the same location. A couple of seconds later the policeman (who was evidently a few meters away) rushes to the scene and grabs the Palestinian in a manner suggesting that the child was apprehended following an incident, the details of which we weren’t privy to.

At the 1:34 mark, another policeman approaches and gives the Palestinian a swift, mild kick. The child is then released, and is seen rushing off.

On July 3, the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood published a story about the incident, titled “Caught on video: Israeli policeman kicking Palestinian boy“. However, Sherwood’s video is edited so that the viewer only sees 37 seconds of the 2 minute tape. It begins at the point where the boy enters the scene.    

Sherwood noted that such Israelis are patrolling Hebron to protect “hardline settlers”.  She contextualized the kick by citing a “report published last week by a group of eminent British lawyers [funded by the UK Foreign Office] that concluded Israel had breached international law in its treatment of Palestinian children in military custody.”

Oh, and I almost neglected to note that the Israeli Border Police have opened an investigation into the incident and will publish their findings soon.

On August 31, 2010, four Israelis, including a married couple, were murdered in their vehicle in a Hamas terrorist drive-by shooting attack on Route 60 east of Hebron. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told Ynet the attack was proof that “the Palestinian resistance is living, breathing, and kicking“. [emphasis added]

Harriet Sherwood’s report on the Hamas terrorist attack focused almost entirely on fear that the “incident…could jeopardise vital peace talks”.

There was no video of the attack which claimed the lives of Yitzhak Ames, Talya Ames, Avishai Shindler, and Kochava Chaim.

However, the following photo of Palestinians celebrating the successful “operation” near Hebron was posted around the web.

As far as I can determine, there has been no report funded by the UK Foreign Office on such terror attacks as violations of international human rights law. 

Oh, and I almost neglected to note that there was no Palestinian investigation into the murder of four Jews near Hebron.

Richard Millett: Save the children…except when they’re Israeli.

Cross posted by Richard Millett

Kerry Smith (Save The Children), Lord Warner, Aimee Shalan (Medical Aid for Palestinians) last night.

I was back at Parliament last night for the launch of a joint report by Save The Children and Medical Aid for Palestinians called Falling Behind – The Effect Of The Blockade On Child Health in Gaza.

The same day a report was released called Children in Military Custody. This may explain why there were only 20 people at my meeting.

It must have been a good day to release bad news about Israel. With politicians, NGOs and charities totally impotent to stop massacres in Syria and starvation and disease in Africa they got back to doing what they do best; delegitimising Israel.

I haven’t had a chance to read Children in Military Custody except to note that it starts off by stating:

“We have no reason to differ from the view of Her Majesty’s Government and the international community that these settlements are illegal.”

This despite Article 6 of the British Mandate which called for “close settlement by Jews on the land”. So when did those “settlements” suddenly become “illegal”?


Children in Military Custody also relies heavily on a recent report on exactlythe same subject matter by Defence for Children International – Palestine Section called Bound, Blindfolded & Convicted: Children held in military detention.

How many reports on exactly the same subject do we need? Obviously there is no austerity in some NGOs and government departments (Children in Military Custody was funded by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

The main problem with Bound, Blindfolded & Convicted is that all the testimony was taken anonymously.

Similarly, Children in Military Custody adopted the ‘Chatham House principle’ of not attributing quotes to individuals, again making it impossible to test the evidence.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Embassy in London responded to Children in Military Custody by noting that Palestinians under the age of 18 were encouraged by school textbooks and television programmes to glorify terrorism. As a result they were often involved in lethal acts which presented the Israeli authorities with serious challenges.

But the Embassy said the Israeli government intends to study the recommendations “as part of its ongoing efforts to find the most appropriate balance between preventing violence and treating perpetrators with humanity”.

As for Falling Behind – The Effect Of The Blockade On Child Health in GazaKerry Smith (Humanitarian Advocacy Adviser, Save The Children) and Aimee Shalan (Director of Advocacy and Communications, Medical Aid for Palestinians) solely blamed Israel’s blockade for the apparent swathe of malnutrition and disease sweeping the children of Gaza caused by, inter alia, lack of medicines and there being (literally) no safe drinking water in Gaza.

I asked how this could be the case if the average age longevity in Gaza is better than parts of Britain, specifically Glasgow (in Gaza average life expectancy is 74.16 years).

Labour’s Lord Warner, who was chairing, explained that it was only since Israel’s blockade that there had been a rapid deterioration in child health in Gaza, therefore only in 10 to 15 years time will we truly see how far average life expectancy in Gaza has dropped as a result of the blockade.

I then asked how it was that there could be such a shortage of medicines considering the existence of the likes of Save The Children and UNRWA. Why would Israel block these medicines?

This time the blame was with Israel’s bureaucracy which meant that much of the medicine arrived out of date. Oh, and Israel kept only one crossing open (Kerem Shalom). Someone from the audience shouted that it was “all intentional”.

I also asked whether Egypt should take any  responsibility for Gaza, but was told that Egypt’s border with Gaza is closed at the request of Israel.

Hamas wasn’t mentioned once, except for when Lord Warner said that he didn’t believe it was full of terrorists.

Kerry Smith and Aimee Shalan then called for Israel to lift its blockade to enable free movement in and out of Gaza.

Should Israel heed this call it wouldn’t be long before it was burying many of its children blown up in Hamas and Islamic Jihad suicide bombings.

So just to recap Save The Children, United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Hamas, Amnesty, War on Want, Egypt etc. have no responsibility whatsoever for Gaza.

All responsibility lies totally with Israel who should immediately open itself up to the risk of Palestinian suicide bombers.

But, then again, you knew that didn’t you…

Zionist Svengali Alert: Guardian reader complains CiF Watch insidiously imposes its will on others

H/T Margie

Beneath the line of the ‘Comment is Free’ essay, ‘Respect is crucial in nuclear talks with Iran‘, June 15, by Hossein Mousavian and Mohammad Ali Shabani, was this howler.

Click to Enlarge

The comment was deleted by CiF moderators, which elicited our delusion free friend to then opine:

Controlling minds, censoring views, chipping away at the Guardian’s reader base?

I think it may be time to at least consider the possibility that Zionists have as much control over the world as our critics say we do.

Regardless, we’ve been thinking about tweaking our logo, so take a look at this and let us know what you think. (But, please remember, look directly into the center of the image, and don’t look away…)

My email exchange with a critic of Israel, a state losing its “Holocaust inspired sympathy”

The following represents my reply to an email we received from an Australian at the “contact us” email address at CiF Watch, which was quite critical of Israel.  We receive more than few such emails but as this one seemed representative of the criticism Israel and (often) Jews are subjected to in the West, I decided to spend a bit of time on it and get to the heart of his concerns. 


We received your email and, as managing editor of CiF Watch, a Jew, and a citizen of Israel, I’ve decided to spend a bit of time replying to your critique of Israel. I’ll focus on your main arguments.  

You write:

“Australia and Australians have a generally positive, sympathetic disposition towards Israel and Jewish people.”  

I don’t deny this about Australians. 

You write:

“As I’ve matured though, I am sorry to say that I’ve become aware that in more modern times, Israel is not necessarily as deserving of sympathy as the Jewish people were in WW2.”

It is a little difficult to answer this point because you don’t really expound on why precisely Israel is not deserving of sympathy. What are the sins we’re accused of? And were Jews only deserving of sympathy while we were victims of Nazi genocide?

Moreover – just to be clear – it is not sympathy we demand, but equal treatment. We do not aspire to be the object of your pity but, merely, to be granted the rights afforded to every other nation in the world, which are typically understood to be axiomatic and unreserved.

You write:

“In saying that, I am doing something that I consider crucial but which I suspect you would not like:  discriminating between “Jews” and “Israel”.  I do that because in the public debate here, often the label of “anti-american” or “anti-jewish” is used if people say something negative about the behaviour of Israel or the US.  I am sure some people are simply racist and their arguments stem from that.  Those people are easy to write-off.  The problem however is that there are plenty of people who are not racist who disagree strongly with Israeli behaviour.  To characterise them as anti-semitic is incorrect at best, willfully ignorant in the middle and egregiously aggressive at worst.” [emphasis added]

This is a straw man. 

I dare you to find more than a few isolated examples of mainstream Jews and Zionists who accuse Israel’s critics of antisemitism merely for criticizing her policies. As antisemitism has historically been defined by the tendency to hold Jews to standards no other group is held to, I think it’s reasonable to impute antisemitism to those who similarly hold the Jewish state to such higher standards. 

The current session of the United Nations Human Rights Council has passed 50% of its condemnatory resolutions against Israel (more than twice the number which have been passed against Syria).  I think it is not unreasonable to consider antisemitism as a possible motivation. When Israel’s very right to exist – unlike the other 192 nations in the world – is constantly questioned, I similarly think that antisemitism can be considered a likely cause. 

And, especially when Zionists’ enemies employ tropes about the dangers of Jewish power, or question the loyalty of Jews (who live outside of Israel) to their own nation, or worry about Jews’ control of the media and finance, I again think it’s reasonable to suspect their motivation is Judeophobia.  

But moreover, are you honestly concerned that Israel does not receive its fair share of criticism in the media and on the world stage? 

You write:

“Aside from the very real threats that I know you face, I think there is a deeper, in some ways greater two-part threat looming: that of cutting off from listening to any criticism, even from friends, with the detachment from reality that can lead to.  I’m going to share something personal:  I have a friend who was abused and neglected as a child and then developed drug problems as a young adult.  Even now, she can’t handle criticism, even when she’s making bad decisions and hurting those around her, particularly family.  She’s had an insight into what people are capable of but she now sees threats around her at times when they don’t exist.”

I must admit to thinking that attempts to psychoanalyze Israel and/or the Jewish people assume quite a bit of hubris. What professional background grants you the expertise necessary to understand the hopes, fears, aspirations (and even pathos) of six million Israeli Jews (and fourteen million Jews worldwide)?  

Again, you make your case through abstractions, so it is difficult to reply with the necessary political and intellectual rigor that I’m used to when fisking a Guardian essay or report, but the expansive nature of your charge does demand that I attempt a serious response.

First: What are the bad decisions Israelis are making? I’ll take a wild guess and assume you’re referring broadly to issues concerning the Palestinians.

If so, this a much longer conversation but, as is the case with so many of Israel’s critics, you no doubt would never consider writing a similar letter to the ‘contact us’ section of a Palestinian blog, asking them why their leaders are making bad decisions and hurting those around them. 

Am I wrong? 

Perhaps you can forward an email you’ve sent to the Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade – the terrorist brand of the political party currently controlling the PA – asking why they engage in supremely cruel terror attacks on innocent Jewish men, women and children.  Or maybe you can forward an email you’ve sent to PA President Mahmoud Abbas asking him why his government continues to glorify terrorists and indoctrinates their children to hate Jews and reject a two state solution. 

Additionally, maybe you could forward an email you’ve sent to Abbas asking him why he rejected an offer of a contiguous Palestinian state in 2008, which included land equal to 100% of the West Bank, Gaza and a Capital in East Jerusalem (an offer confirmed by then U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice). 

My guess is that such emails won’t be forthcoming because you have never thought to send them.

As far as these “phony threats” to Israel you evoke: I guess I could chalk up your callousness to living in Australia and possessing a failure of empathy informed by not having any real security concerns, but I don’t think I’m prepared to let you off the hook that easily. 

You see, in the age of the internet you merely need to go online and go to a credible site which can bring you up to speed on the ideologies of state and non-state actors which surround our tiny polity. I speak mainly of Hamas and Hezbollah: Iranian sponsored, funded and trained Islamist militias possessing thousands of missiles – both of which are quite explicit in their desire to murder millions of Jews. Is it really possible you don’t already know this?  

Do you also not know that the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood – perhaps the most popular Islamist group in the Middle East – per a Wikileaks Cable asked Allah to kill “every last Jew on earth” in a sermon delivered to thousands of followers?

Were you also unaware that Iran’s supreme spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khomenei recently outlined why it would be acceptable to kill all Jews in Israel – a doctrine, as reported by the Mail Online, which details why the destruction of Israel and the slaughter of all its people would be legally and morally justified, and in accordance to Islamic doctrine?

Are these the non-existent threats of which you speak?

Finally you write:

“A slow conversion of people with valid, specific criticisms of Israeli government behaviour into invalid, overgeneralised criticisms of Jewish people: I’m sure this is happening and while inherently an unreasonable process, as time goes on I think it will occur more and more.  Holocaust deniers are clearly idiots but as generations pass, the collective sympathy regarding the holocaust will naturally diminish and Israel will increasingly appear to be acting inappropriately.”

It is quite interesting that you have failed to offer even one specific criticism of Israeli government policy. Why is that? Do you have a good working knowledge of the politics of the region?

I doubt you do.

Because if you understood the modern Jewish state and its neighbours with anything approaching objectivity, you would marvel at its liberal democratic prowess in a region awash in tyranny and intolerance.  You’d see a nation which excels in science, medicine and technology and is not only economically self-sufficient, but increasingly exports lifesaving technology to much poorer countries around the globe. 

My tiny Jewish state is, by any credible measure, a social, political and economic success story.

As an Israeli who understands that being a Jew has, throughout history, almost always meant continually being judged, I will simply not grant you the privilege to sit on this jury.

I choose not to grant you that power.

Jews are masters of their own fate for the first time in thousands of years and we have no intention of relinquishing this hard-fought right.

Finally, here’s my proposal.

I am completely fine if your sympathy for the Holocaust completely ceases. Really: I am not concerned with your genocide condemnations and platitudes about concerns for survivors, your Shoah memorials, museums, or days of remembrance.  

However, what I do ask (what even the broadest understanding of universal morality demands) is that you maintain a steadfast, fierce and unyielding resistance to the modern day ideological heirs to Nazi antisemitism: those who carry on the legacy of Hitler, Goebbels, Streicher, Goring, and Himmler. Those heirs are adherents to a malign ideology known as radical Islam (Islamism), many of whom just happen to surround the Jewish state, and whose names are Haniyeh, Nasrallah, and Qaradawi. 

That is, what I’m suggesting is that true philo-semites are those whose imaginative sympathy are inspired by the fate of living Jews, not those who have been dead for over 65 years.

The fact that 40% of those living Jews happen to dwell in Israel is something you may wish to consider.

Has the Guardian reached the tipping point in its crusade against Israel?

A guest post by AKUS

There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224

But tides go out, as well as come in. Is it possible that the Guardian leadership, desperately trying to save its livelihood at a once proud paper, is hoping that the tide of rising anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli activity in Europe will be the incoming tide that it can surf to the safe shore of large salaries, pensions, and early retirement?

Until recently, until, in fact, June 8th, 2012, it might have seemed that their ploy was working. Article after article has appeared obsessively attacking Israel over matters that are at worst no different than can be found in all Western countries – the struggle to deal with the refugee influx, the rise of the right wing in response to terrorism, the clash between ultra-religious and secular, just to name three recent examples whose analogues can be found in the USA or Europe. Even as the Middle East goes up in the flames of the “Arab Spring”, with deaths now clearly closing in on 100,000, thanks in large part to NATO’s intervention in Libya and the mass-murder continuing in Syria, the Guardian focuses on Gaza and blames Israel for what Hamas is doing there.

With the publication of a column which has rapidly become notorious, in which the head of Hamas, Ismail Haniyah, laid out his thoughts on how the Palestinians are reclaiming their destiny, the Guardian planted its masthead firmly in the camp of terrorism, misogyny, religious intolerance, jihad, Jew-slaughter, and all the other elements of the Hamas creed with which every person in the West has become familiar.

There is much to criticize and even mock in Haniyah’s puff piece, obviously ghost-written since his English is known to be deplorable, but without a doubt the portion that will be remembered, to the everlasting shame of the Guardian, is the paragraph so especially full of lies and evasions that reads:

“We as a people want to live in our homeland, the land of our ancestors, in freedom, dignity and democracy, and with a just peace that restores our rights. We do not want to attack anyone and do not accept anyone attacking us. As we have said on more than one occasion, the key to security is the end of occupation. As a people we have been historically wronged and subjected to dozens of massacres; tens of thousands of us have lost our children for no other reason than that we demand our rights as clearly stipulated under international laws.”

“Our homeland” and “our destiny” clearly mean the whole of Mandatory Palestine, except for Trans-Jordan, which the British gave up in 1923 to the Hashemites from Saudi Arabia. 

In other words, Israel must cease to exist. As rockets continue to be fired into Israel by Hamas’ proxies, if not its own identifiable members, the claim that “We do not want to attack anyone” cannot be read with a straight face. The desire to see “the end of occupation” when, in Gaza, there is no occupation is so transparent that it is incredible that someone can even write rubbish like this – unless one accepts Haniyah’s thesis, as the Guardian obviously does, that the very existence of Israel is “occupation” and saying it makes it so.

Finally, the exaggerated claim that tens of thousands have lost their children is not only verifiably absurd, flying in the face of recorded facts, but rings particularly cynical and hollow as we read about the current massacres in Syria where, indeed, tens of thousands have been killed by the two Assads making war on their own citizens, actually killing tens of thousands of citizens and children.

The article and the Gaza-live blog that accompanied it (“A day in the life of Gaza”) replete with ‘touching human interest’ stories, brought to the web by two of the Guardian’s weakest straws, Harriet Sherwood and Phoebe Greenwood, ignored the evil that is Hamas and provided a bizarre example of cognitive dissonance that must have jarred any reader capable of rational and critical thinking.

Clearly, this piece by Haniyah, so replete with falsehoods, misrepresentations and exaggerations, can only be considered an example of  a “Big Lie” so beloved by the Nazis – tell a lie big enough, and often enough, and eventually people will believe it.  But it is not enough to point out the resemblance to something Goebbels could have written – one must also consider where it is published, and who published it, and why they did so.

The response on the Web has been immediate and harsh. The finger is pointed directly at the Guardian, for no-one expects more of Haniyah or Hamas. The Times of Israel published a direct attack comparing the Guardian to “Der Sturmer” – Der Sturmer in the UK?  Pulling no punches, Simon Plosker wrote:

“What would Israel do if a journalist from Der Sturmer was filing reports from inside the country? Despite the fact that there is remarkable press freedom in Israel, extending to and including Arab media such as Al-Jazeera, it’s a safe bet that Israel would find it extremely hard to swallow.

Yet there is such a foreign media outlet represented in Israel, publishing propaganda and openly supporting Israel’s worst enemies. It’s called The Guardian. .. When it comes to The Guardian, however, the paper deserves to be treated as a modern-day Der Sturmer.”

Over on Harry’s Place, Joseph W.  came out with Hamas leader writes for the Guardian leaving no doubt about how he sees  Hamas –  “Hamas is an organisation dedicated to killing Jews” – and the Guardian’s role in publishing Haniyah’s article as part of the same anti-Semitic ethos.

Robin Shepherd’s blog, “The Commentator”, published Is the Guardian the most bigoted newspaper in Britain? and opened with:

“Which of these propositions do you think is correct; and can you identify a moral distinction between them?

The Guardian newspaper has just run an article by someone advocating that black people be returned to the status of slaves.

The Guardian newspaper has just run an article suggesting that landlords be allowed to put up notices saying that Irish people and dogs need not apply for housing.

The Guardian newspaper has just run an article by a political leader whose foundational charter advocates the murder of Jews and promotes conspiracy theories that would not have looked out-of-place in Nazi Germany.

No prizes for guessing that the third of those propositions is correct on a factual basis. The morality? It’s a race to the bottom.”

Here on CiFWatch we reposted Charlotte’s  Giving up the Guardian  from her blog “Digital Politco”. Her reason for giving up the Guardian?

“I might even have been able to stomach a proper interview with Haniyah published in the Guardian. He has been elected Prime Minister, despite his organisations vile beliefs.

Essentially though this is the equivalent of the paper giving a column to the leader of the KKK, and giving someone like Ismail Haniyah an unanswered column should be as totally unthinkable to the Guardian.

As it wasn’t, I cannot support or read this product.”

Clearly aware that they were publishing something that was so false, so rotten, so biased, and so supportive of a terrorist and anti-Semitic organization in their Live Blog, the Guardian took unusual action by prefacing the blog with an editor’s note – Gaza Live: editor’s note. The need for a note of explanation is an uneasy admission that something smells fishy about the live blog, and it is not only the odor of rotting fish in the Gaza fish market. The note itself contains a series of whoppers stating the Guardian’s position:

“The Guardian’s leader line is that the Gaza blockade is illegal in international law, that it constitutes collective punishment, and that it has not had its intended political outcome, which was to kill support for Hamas, drive a permanent wedge between it and Fatah and divide the Palestinians.”

How can any informed person read this farrago of lies and misrepresentations without concluding that the Guardian serves as apologists for Islamists like Hamas?

The Palmer Report to the UN made it clear that the Gaza blockade is NOT illegal (it has never, ever, been challenged in an international court of law because no lawyer believes he or she can make the case). 

Considering the luxurious lifestyle of so many in Gaza it is not surprising that visitors from Egypt have been amazed by the prosperity there, against which Egypt compares unfavorably.

The dearth of support for Hamas is due to Hamas’ actions, not Israel’s, as can be read in one of the blogs the Guardian provides in direct contradiction to its own line,

Iyad al-Tom says he blames the Gaza government for the continuing blockade, and the militants who fire rockets from nearby fields into Gaza for the Israeli military incursions. “Of course I’m angry. We never see the militants, but if we did we would throw stones at them.”

Finally, Israel had nothing to do with driving a wedge between Hamas and Fatah – they have managed to do that themselves.

All this aside, the readers of the Live Blog also had their say, and were overwhelmingly critical of the Guardian. Scan the comments below the line on Haniyah’s article and the Live Blog to read comments like the following from among just the first comments to appear:

Click image to read full comment at CiF

Click image to go to read complete comment at CiF

Click image to go to read complete comment at CiF

Click image to read complete comment at CiF

Comment is free; facts are sacred. Not in this paper they’re not.

Reading the ferocious responses in the blogosphere and the angry and pointed comments below the line on the Guardian website accusing it of anti-Semitism and Israel-hatred, it is clear that for many people the Guardian crossed a line with its support for Hamas and its one-sided Gaza blog.

The Guardian’s  actions even raise a question for those of us who strongly support freedom of expression – when does freedom of expression, as demonstrated by  an article published by the leader of a proscribed terrorist organization who calls for the death of Jews wherever they can be found, go beyond what is acceptable and become treason and a call to genocide? If the Guardian is recognized as the 21st century’s “Der Sturmer”, as Simon Plosker avers, at what point does the British government need to intervene?

Finally, one has to wonder why this incessant, obsessive, anti-Semitic and anti-Israel attack goes on and on.  It  is hard to believe that it is truly out of concern for the UNRWA supported, EU supported, Palestinians when far worse situations are notably under-reported by the Guardian.  Ever since Deep Throat said it to Woodward and Bernstein, either in life or in the movie about Watergate, I have been a believer in “Follow the Money”.

What is in it for the Guardian? Is someone funding this unending effort so reminiscent of Nixon’s paranoid attacks against those he believed to be his opponents? Is there a belief at the leadership level that the only way to retain their dwindling paying readership is to use the oldest distraction in the book – attacking the Jews?  Is the Guardian simply following the line of the assassin Brutus:

And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

There is a tipping point in the affairs of men, when that tide does go out, dragging the would-be “venturers” so far out to sea that they disappear never to be seen again, like Nixon after Watergate. With its support for Hamas, the article by Haniyah, and the Gaza Live blog, the Guardian may finally be facing the tipping point that takes down the abominable attack dogs it has been cursed with as leaders for a decade or two.

Fallout from the Hamas essay at ‘Comment is Free': ‘Giving up the Guardian’

H/T Gerald

Cross posted by Charlotte at Digital Politico

It may or may not surprise you to know that I am a Guardian reader.

Or at least was.

Today though they decided to run a piece by the leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh.

The leader of a terrorist organisation that has a stated aim of removing Israel from the map.

That’s before we mention it’s totally despicable and illiberal approach to women and homosexuals.

People will try and make this into a free speech issue. When they do I hope they realise that I have always been against no platforming in a political context – I was happy for Nick Griffin to appear and be debated on Question Time. I thought that the BNP candidate should have been allowed into the Mayoral debate when all candidates were invited.

I might even have been able to stomach a proper interview with Haniyeh published in the Guardian. He has been elected Prime Minister, despite his organisations vile beliefs.

Essentially though this is the equivalent of the paper giving a column to the the leader of the KKK, and giving someone like Ismail Haniyeh an unanswered column should be as totally unthinkable to the Guardian.

As it wasn’t, I cannot support or read this product

The issue is about terrorism and murder, not free speech. I have zero issue with people wanting to advocate the Palestinian cause being given a platform, even though I may come from a slightly different perspective. I also hope having such a debate can contribute towards peace. This article is not that though.

You will note that in his piece Haniyeh mentions the word Israel once, followed by the word occupation. It’s a bit odd that in a piece about change in the Middle East, mentions of the region’s only democracy are almost indiscernible. The thing is, if he had mentioned Israel, Haniyeh would have to discuss that he actually advocates the destruction of that state, and even Guardian readers might have found that a bit too difficult to take with their muesli.

But there is no point just winging.

The Guardian has long been a beloved media outlet of liberals, but today myself and my friend Matthew Harris are urging liberals to Give up the Guardian. Stop reading it, stop linking to it, stop buying it.

Join our Facebook page (or buy a subscription to our newsletter) too, to help you get through going cold turkey.

Go on….you’ll feel so much better when you give it up.

The Six Day War: Day Two

This week, Jewish Ideas Daily commemorates the forty-fifth anniversary of the Six-Day War with a day-by-day synopsis, for which we are indebted to Michael Oren’s comprehensive book, ‘Six Days of War.  

Abba Eban

In the Sinai, Israeli aircraft commanded the skies and the IDF advanced along roads littered with Egyptian tanks.  Some were in flames, illuminating the darkness; others were simply immobilized by malfunctions in their Soviet-made engines, which had failed in desert conditions.  On June 6th, 1967, by 8:00 a.m. Tel Aviv time, Israeli forces had entered el-Arish.  It initially seemed desolate, but the Israelis were soon under fire from every window.  Israel’s leadership, not expecting the war to move so quickly, had not considered what do to beyond el-Arish.  The IDF’s challenge became keeping up with the retreating Egyptian forces.

Meanwhile, Gaza had been severed from Sinai.  Though Defense Minister Moshe Dayan had predicted that this move would cripple the Strip, fighting was heavy; Gaza would ultimately account for nearly half of all the war’s Israeli casualties.  Still, Dayan’s prediction was correct: Gaza was taken by mid-morning.

Yet even as Egyptian anti-aircraft gun barrels melted from the continuous, unsuccessful efforts against Israeli planes, more than half of Egypt’s forces were intact.  Some important detachments had yet to see action.  Pilots remained available.  Forty-eight Algerian aircraft were en route, along with volunteers from Morocco, Tunisia, and Sudan.  Expressions of support poured in from Arab sympathizers.  By contrast, Israel’s forces were exhausted from over 24 hours of non-stop combat and were low on fuel and ammunition.

Meanwhile, another front was opening in the war—a political front.  In a 1:00 a.m. radio broadcast, IDF Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin had informed Israelis of the previous day’s astounding military successes.  The broadcast boosted morale; but, Rabin knew, carried a risk: The international community might now seek a cease-fire, preventing further Israeli advances and threatening Israel’s gains with pressures for unreciprocated concessions.  The United States and Britain had declared neutrality, while France, then Israel’s primary patron, had embargoed further arms shipments.

Egypt’s leadership now ordered a wholesale retreat: An army assembled in 24 days began trying to draw back in as many hours.  Egyptian leaders may have believed that the more devastating their reversal looked, the more likely it was that the United Nations or Soviet Union would intervene.  They also began propagating the disinformation that America and Britain had intervened on Israel’s behalf.  During the day, this rumor spread across the Middle East.  Mobs attacked American embassies and consulates.  Exports to America and Britain were banned.  Egypt severed its U.S. diplomatic ties; other Arab states followed suit.  Americans were deported from Egypt at virtually a moment’s notice.

In the east, Jordanian forces were losing ground in tense, sometimes hand-to-hand combat as Israeli forces sought to “atone for the sin of ’48,” their failure to take Jerusalem’s Old City in the War of Independence.  By 5:15 a.m., Israel had won East Jerusalem’s Ammunition Hill in one of the bloodiest battles in Arab-Israeli history.  It took more hours of heavy fighting for the Israelis to capture Mount Scopus.  Angering some field commanders, Dayan decided to surround the Old City rather than attack.  Even the efforts at encirclement proved arduous.

Of the promised Arab reinforcements, only Iraqi forces saw combat.  The Saudis sent a contingent, but it did not fight.  An Egyptian doctor attached to Saudi forces on the eastern border remembered: “We hoped”—fruitlessly—”that one Israeli plane would attack us, so that we could say that we participated in the war and we fired our guns.”

Jordan’s military retained significant strength, but King Hussein panicked when his generals warned him before dawn that failing to retreat from the West Bank would decimate his army.  He feared that if he accepted a cease-fire while Egyptians still fought, Egypt would blame him for defeat; he might face mutiny from his military and Jordan’s Palestinian Arabs.  He summoned Western ambassadors in Amman to warn that his kingdom might fall without an internationally imposed cease-fire.  He repeated the rumor that America had intervened to support Israel. President Lyndon Johnson heard and was infuriated.

Hussein also requested orders from Egypt but, for hours, received none.  Meanwhile, the IDF took the West Bank cities of Jenin and Ramallah and advanced toward Nablus and Qalqilya.  Hussein raced to the battlefield in a jeep.  He later recalled what he saw there: “In groups of thirty or two, wounded, exhausted, [soldiers] were trying to clear a path under the monstrouscoup de grace being dealt them by a horde of Israeli Mirages screaming in a cloudless blue sky seared with sun.”

In the north there was an abortive Syrian probe but general disorganization: The bridges across the Jordan River, for instance, were too narrow for Soviet tanks.  Dayan resisted opening a northern front.

Recognition was growing that the war would be decided in New York and Washington.  Sleepless for nearly two days, Foreign Minister Abba Eban flew to the UN; his plane was almost hit by Jordanian shrapnel.  Arriving in New York, he went straight to the Security Council.  With barely time to review his notes, he delivered what became a famous oration on Israel’s behalf.

In the United States, President Johnson, with an election season beginning, was cognizant of the public’s pro-Israel feeling—and angered by the Soviet role in the war and the misinformation about American behavior.  He was inclined to let Israel keep its gains and use them as bargaining chips.  Yet America allowed the UN to move toward a cease-fire.  Eban reluctantly acquiesced, and a resolution was passed.  But Israel was saved from the potential consequences when Egypt rebuffed the resolution, complaining that it did not require full and immediate Israeli withdrawals.

At 11:15 p.m., King Hussein finally received word from Egypt that its air force was obliterated and its army in full retreat.  Now Hussein could, and did, order a withdrawal from the West Bank.  He then heard about the UN resolution; the cease-fire would take effect at dawn.  Hussein accepted the resolution—and rescinded the order to retreat, in hopes that his forces and their Iraqi reinforcements could hold parts of the West Bank and the Old City until morning.

Process over progress: West’s infatuation with ‘buying time’ over ‘resolve’ to prevent nuclear Iran

A guest post by Gidon Ben-Zvi, an Anglo-Israeli freelance writer

As the Guardian’s Julian Borger recently reported (Iran nuclear talks: Settling for confusion in Baghdad, hoping for clarity in Moscow, May 29th) Iran and six of the world’s major powers agreed to settle on confusion at the latest round of negotiations in Baghdad and which adjourned on May 24th with no sign of progress.

The focal point of the talks was the international community’s call on Tehran to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent purity, which is a short technical step away from highly enriched uranium that can be weaponized.

The Iranians have responded with calls of their own for an immediate easing of the increasingly painful economic sanctions which have been imposed on them.

And so the endless whirling diplomatic pirouette continues; accompanied as always by rosy prognostications, fervent wishes and dramatic – albeit brief – flowerings of optimism.  How long have Iranian and Western diplomats been filling their dance cards with high level quibbling on the issue of Tehran’s nuclear program?  Here’s a cursory list of U.N. sanctions leveled against the Islamic Republic of Iran:

  • United Nations Security Council Resolution 1803 – passed on March 3, 2008. It extended the asset freezes and called upon states to monitor the activities of Iranian banks, inspect Iranian ships and aircraft, and to monitor the movement of individuals involved with the program through their territory.
  • United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929 – passed on June 9 2010. It banned Iran from participating in any activities related to ballistic missiles, tightened the arms embargo, and recommended that states inspect Iranian cargo, prevent the provision of financial services used for sensitive nuclear activities and closely watch Iranian individuals and entities when dealing with them…

It’s a wonder of modern day statecraft that such bold resolutions haven’t managed to persuade Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Mullah regime to give up their pursuit and development of the bomb.

And the short list above doesn’t include the bilateral sanctions leveled by the European Union, United States and other countries against Iran.

Fortunately, U.S. President Barack Obama has reacted to Tehran’s repeated evasions regarding nuclear weaponization with strong talk, saying that the world is “unified around Iran’s misbehavior in this area.

Date of quote: February 9, 2010.

Two years later, on March 14, 2012, Obama again unsheathed the proverbial saber and gave it a good rattle, stating that that the window for dealing with its nuclear program through diplomatic channels is “shrinking.”

Albert Einstein once said that insanity can be defined as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” As such, is Yukiya Amano, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, just slightly mentally deficient? Perish the thought. Rather, the meat and marrow of any deal is, unfortunately, secondary to the political spinning at play whenever a perceived breakthrough on inspections is proclaimed.

If the true goal of these talks is to resolve the polarizing issue of Iran’s nuclear program in one of the world’s most volatile regions – and not to simply claim faint diplomatic victories that usually revolve around the tortured cliché of “agreeing to keep talking” – Iran’s race to convert enriched uranium to bomb-grade fuel can be significantly slowed in a number of ways.  While the country is already nuclear capable, a nuclear-armed Iran is not inevitable.

In general a concerted, synchronized implementation of the following policies could help prevent Iran from crossing the line from weapons capability to weapons production: Containment, Deterrence, Intrusive Inspections and Engagement (since the main purpose of the first three courses of action is to persuade Iran to negotiate).

Should these diplomatic overtures fail there’s the option of using military force to halt or reverse nuclear proliferation. Since Israel has more to fear from a nuclear Iran than the United States, it may need to resort to force to curtail Iran’s capabilities if diplomacy fails. The Israeli Air force possesses the capability to destroy even well-hardened targets in Iran with some degree of confidence.

Possible attack routes include flying over the Mediterranean, refueling from airborne tankers and then continuing east over Turkey to Iran, or having IAF planes fly southeast, over Jordan and Saudi Arabia, and then continuing northeast across Iraq. A third option would involve Israeli forces flying southeast and then east along the Saudi-Iraqi border to the Persian Gulf and then north, refueling along the way.

To resolve this crisis diplomatically, Tehran will need to be convinced of Western resolve to halt  its nuclear program. Such a breakthrough will only occur as a result of tougher sanctions and stiffer demands than those presented in the two rounds of talks conducted Baghdad. While a diplomatic, peaceful resolution is ideal, it may not be achievable in light of the Iranian people’s — reformers and conservatives alike — strong support for enrichment.

National pride in the technical prowess embodied in Iran’s nuclear program is at the core of this support.

For now, the dance continues. The third attempt in three months to answer international worries that Iran’s atomic energy program may be a cover for secret weapons work is scheduled to take place next month in Moscow.

How appropriate that the next round of graceful, flowing, ethereal diplomatic doublespeak  that aims to bring us “peace in our time” will be held at the home of the Bolshoi Ballet.

Feminism, Islamism, the Hijab and ‘Comment is Free’ contributor Nadiya Takolia

Nadiya Takolia: researcher at Engage & ‘Comment is Free’ contributor

As a near absolutist in my belief in freedom of expression, I am very wary about judging people based on religiously inspired customs or attire. As such, women who freely choose to wear the hijab should not be subjected to social opprobrium or political restrictions in free societies. 

However, ‘s essay on ‘Comment is Free’, May 28th, “The hijab has liberated me from society’s expectations of women” makes several arguments in defense of her decision, whilst in her 20s, to wear the hijab which seem – based on her broader political views – quite specious.

In fairness, however, the first explanation is the most defensible from a progressive standpoint.

Takolia argues that in a society where a woman’s value seems focused on her sexual charms, the hijab can be seen as a political statement.

Takolia writes:

“From perfume and clothes ads to children’s dolls and X Factor finals, you don’t need to go far to see that the woman/sex combination is everywhere.  It makes many of us feel like a pawn in society’s beauty game – ensuring that gloss in my hair, the glow in my face and trying to attain that (non-existent) perfect figure.”

Takolia emphasizes that her decision to wear the hijab was not religious, but purely political.

However, beyond the narrow (and I think admirable) desire of Takolia not to be objectified, her embrace of the hijab encompasses a more expansive politically progressive mantle: one – as it will become clear – inherently at odds with the broader ideology to which she pledges her allegiance.

Takolia writes of coming across the hijab “as a twentysomething undergraduate, [while] reading feminist literature”.  She later asserts that the hijab is ” political, feminist and empowering.”

Also, Takolia opines:

“[The hijab] is me telling the world that my femininity is not available for public consumption. I am taking control of it, and I don’t want to be part of a system that reduces and demeans women.” [emphasis mine]

So, is Nadiya Takolia a progressive woman? Does she rightfully reject misogyny in all its manifestations and oppose political movements which demean and subjugate women?

Sadly, no.

According to her ‘Comment is Free’ bio, Takolia works for an organization called Engage – also known as iEngage (which should NOT be confused with the anti-racist site Engage which campaigns against antisemitism).

What is iEngage?

Well, they claim to help empower and encourage British Muslims within local communities to be more actively involved in British media and politics.

However, Engage’s idea of politically empowering Muslims has a very narrow and decidedly illiberal focus. Indeed, the group puts a significant amount of energy into opposing moderate and liberal Muslims, while defending radical Islamist and decidedly reactionary Muslim organisations.

Per Harry’s Place:

“The nature of iEngage is demonstrated by its support for the East London Mosque, London Muslim Centre and Islamic Forum Europe: three bodies with a worrying history of extreme politics, which have repeatedly hosted hate preachers and supporters of terrorism…[and] attacked, as Islamophobes, any journalist or Muslim who criticises the East London Mosque, the London Muslim Centre or the Islamic Forum Europe.”

“The East London Mosque twice hosted the Al Qaeda-aligned preacher Anwar al-Awlaki at the East London Mosque/London Muslim Centre. Awlaki has been identified by the 9/11 Commission as the spiritual adviser of two of the 9/11 hijackers.

Added Lucy Lips at HP:

“This was the problem with iEngage all along. It is an organisation which is very closely tied to specific Islamist political parties, which both defends those political parties and associated hate preachers, while attacking Muslim liberals in the most personal terms. Indeed, iEngage operates from an office within the Islam Channel: a tv station which has been censured by OFCOM for advocating marital rape [and] violence against women. 

Takolia’s Tweets similarly demonstrate, at the least, an evident sympathy towards Islamists with clear anti-feminist political leanings.

Here’s one of her Tweets about Raed Salah.

In addition to Salah’s documented antisemitic incitement (his reciting of a poem advancing the ancient blood libel, which the UK Immigration Tribunal confirmed he indeed said), the following represents a perfect illustration of Salah’s reactionary views towards women. (Here’s a passage from a 2003 interview with Salah by a Ha’aretz reporter.)

Ha’aretz journalist:  “What is your opinion of the legislation now being discussed in the Knesset, which would grant Muslim women rights similar to those of Jewish women in matters of personal status?”

Raed Salah:  ”That bill is tantamount to a war on Islam. It is an attempt to dictate different, foreign values that are neither Muslim nor Palestinian values.”

On Nadiya Takolia’s Facebook page, the ‘Likes’ include the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC): (For those not on FB, see screenshot of her support for PRC below post)

The Palestinian Return Centre is not only a Hamas-supporting organization [they are believed to transfer funds directly to Hamas], but it also promotes the ‘right of return’ for Palestinian refugees and rejects the right of Israel to exist within any borders.  Israeli defense officials characterize the group as nothing less than a direct part of the Hamas movement. Indeed, the PRC advocates the Hamas strategy of violent Jihad.

iEngage’s  demonstrates again how proponents of, or at least apologists for, the most reactionary movements within Islam continue, under the veneer of human rights, to attempt to avoid being held responsible for an adherence to reactionary, racist, and violent political agendas.

Hijab or no hijab, Islamism is inherently and necessarily incompatible with feminism – even broadly understood.  

What the Guardian won’t report: Attempted Palestinian kidnapping of Israeli mother & child

Harriet Sherwood just published a story (Israeli settlers filmed firing gun at Palestinians, May 21), which included a video posted on YouTube providing little context, about Israelis from Yitzhar firing at Palestinians in the Arab town of Asira al-Qibliya – an incident currently being investigated by the IDF.

While the Guardian wasted no time running with the story above, despite the paucity of facts, the following frightening tale of Palestinians terrorizing an Israeli mother and her child will likely never find its way to the pages of the Guardian, as Harriet Sherwood’s narrative of the region rarely allows for such unambiguous tales of Jewish victimhood.

The following was reported in Ynet, per information recently released by the Shin Bet, Israel’s security service:

Some two months ago Palestinians attempted to kidnap Yael Shahak and her daughter, who was eight years old at the time, when they were driving to the Beit El area in the West Bank.

Yael Shahak and her daughter

On Sunday [May 20] , after the Palestinians accused of the attempted kidnapping…were indicted, Yael recalled the incident.

“One of them took a wrench which he used to shatter the car’s front windshield. At that moment I understood that they were going to kill me and my daughter that we would come out of this dead or handicapped.”

One night in March, Shahak and her daughter were on their way home from an event in central Israel. “We got onto the Beit El access road and a few minutes later, after one of the bends in the road, I noticed a car standing at the side of the road,” she recalled.

“…I honked my horn and then they zigzagged in front of me. The spot was one where you could not bypass or evade the car in front of you, so I drove behind them and tried to avoid them.”

But the Palestinians would not give up. “They saw me backing up so they also backed up. That’s when the penny dropped that I had a problem,” she said. “I tried to escape but they wouldn’t let me move to the side of the road. Eventually they stopped and stood right in front of my vehicle.

“I saw four men in front of me, I was frightened by the fact that they were all men – that was before I even paid attention to whether they were Arabs or not.

One of the men walked up to Shahak’s window while the other three surrounded the car. “The terrorist who came up to my window signaled me to open it.

“The doors and windows were locked so [he tried] to convince me to open the window and [I] tried to tell him that I want to continue on my way. It was all done with hand signals and looks. Then at some point the look in his eyes changed and he became crazed.”

That is when the violence started. “After several blows to the windshield, with all the glass flying at me, he suddenly stopped. At the time I didn’t understand why and it was only after the fact that I realized that they saw an [Israeli vehicle] coming from the direction of Beit El.”

“The terrorists [then] fled…”

“I will never forget the look on the terrorist’s face…” 

“That night [my daughter] cried with me…”

There were nine members – Palestinians from the Ramallah area – in the terror cell responsible for the attempted kidnapping of Shahak and her daughter,  which was headed by Mouhmad Ramdan (22) of al-Bira.

Some of the terrorists (affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) are being held in Israel while others are in the custody of the Palestinian Authority.

Suspect Mouhmad Ramdan

According to the Shin Bet, the terrorists were trying to kidnap Shahak and her daughter in order to use them as bargaining chips in prisoner exchanges.

Is the following Guardian headline even conceivable?

Camera grabbed, rucksack snatched and racially abused at SOAS

This is a cross-post from Richard Millett’s Blog

When I went to last night’s Palestine Society event at SOAS (public advertisement above) the audience was greeted with this slide when we entered the Khalili Lecture Theatre:

The slide that greeted us in the KLT at SOAS last night.

Before journalist Abdel Bari Atwan or Oxford University’s Dr. Karma Nebulsi spoke we were shown a film. Here is the eight seconds I was able to film before I felt some quite sharp prods in my shoulder while being ordered to stop filming:

Next I am told “You’re a typical Israeli, you know that”, which I took as a racist comment:

Next I am told to stop filming and recording by the chairperson before a rather large chap who had subsequently seated himself in front of me got up, turned around and tried to grab my camera, leaving me with a throbbing finger, before making off with my rucksack:

In the act of snatching the rucksack my phone, glasses case, pens and voice recorder ended up all over the floor and under the seats in front of me. I had to kneel to pick everything up, but I’m still missing a pen.

The audience started to taunt me and slow hand clap. Bari Atwan remained silent throughout while Nebulsi had the nerve to accuse me of being disruptive. Bizarrely, she offered to escort me outside to retrieve my rucksack but I refused to leave until my stuff was returned. At no stage did anyone in the 40 strong audience come to my defence in any way:

Eventually, SOAS security retrieved my rucksack and, suprisingly, my coat, which must have been removed by someone from behind me while I wasn’t looking. My coat had my keys in it:

After my coat and rucksack had been returned and after I had managed to retrieve most of my belongings from the floor and from under the seats I left.

To say I felt shaken and pretty distressed is the least of it.

I have turned off the comments just for this blog as I don’t wish to have prejudiced anything that may or may not happen but if anyone can help me with the names of any of those in the clips above then I would be very grateful.

Also, I’d be interested in knowing the translation of the Arabic on the slide above.

My email is richardblog@live.co.uk

Is ‘OpenDemocracy’ closed to Zionists?

A guest post by Fritz Wunderlich, loyal CiF Watch reader

[Editor's Note: We often get emails from supporters who ask us to publish posts about antisemitism and the assault on Israel's legitimacy at newspapers and sites other than the Guardian. While we typically don't have much time to devote to monitoring other media, Mr. Wunderlich offered to introduce our readers to what he felt was an institutional bias against Israel (and the state's supporters) at the site, OpenDemocracy, and we agreed.]

OpenDemocracy (OD) is a UK-based “progressive” site for opinion and news about international affairs, politics, and culture. OD was founded in 2000 by Anthony Barnett, David Hayes, Susan Richards and Paul Hilder. OD has been funded by a number of philanthropic organisations, including the Ford Foundation, the Atlantic Philanthropies, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, and others.

This is not a general assessment of OD, but merely a snapshot meant to address what I feel is OD’s institutional hostility towards Israel and climate of tolerance towards thinly veiled anti-Semitic tropes employed by commenters. While promoting the values of free speech this e-zine often doesn’t hesitate to censor voices which challenge its bias.

To begin with I initially visited OD when I was under the impression that it was another outlet for thoughtful, reasoned debate.  But I soon discovered it was something completely different.

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OD claims to advocate free speech, but not personal abuse.  However, the working reality is different.

In addition to the downright anti-Semitic comments at OD, those who raise objections to the dominant anti-Zionist narrative are often mocked or ridiculed.

When you challenge the dominant Palestinian narrative you’re often called a racist, fascist and so on.  Or, classic anti-Zionist invectives are employed, such as ‘Israel is a colonial power’, ‘terrorism is legitimate resistance’, ‘Israel is an apartheid system’, ‘Zionism is a racist ideology’, and ‘the Jewish state has no moral legitimacy’.

Both the editors at OD, and most commenters, don’t like the concept of nation-state, (especially the Jewish one), at all. However, when I’ve asked why contributors and commenters support Palestinian nationalism, they often respond by arguing that such oppressed people are entitled to be nationalistic under their particular circumstances.

Many commenters consider themselves advocates of all peace seeking Israelis and Palestinians, complain vociferously about racist Zionists and constantly denounce Israel as the main obstacle to peace in the region, a terror state and so on.

Here are a few comments worth noting: (None of these have been deleted by OD moderators.)

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When I comment about anti-Semitism (or simply lies and smears about Zionists) below the line at OD the moderators typically dismiss the complaint and my post is typically deleted while the offensive comments are not. I’ve even written to the editors, which typically elicits a less than serious and thorough response.

Unsurprisingly, OD mainly publishes articles (above the line) criticizing and demonizing Israel, by writers such as (former CiF contributor) Antony Lerman, Paul Pogers, and a Palestinian named Sameh Habeeb. 

Finally, here are some essays at OD by Habeeb, who is the founder of The Palestine Telegraph. If you recall, The Palestine Telegraph made news in 2010 when they posted a video message on their home page by former KKK leader David Duke calling Israel a terrorist state.

(Remarkably, this was too much for even Baroness Jenny Tonge, who subsequently withdrew her patronage of the paper.)

The Commentator picks up BBC fact-check fail.

The now one year-old (congratulations all!) news and commentary site The Commentator brings us the story of a report by the BBC’s Middle East correspondent Yolande Knell which includes lengthy quotes from a source whose name she could not even get right. 

This is a screenshot of the original, which was later amended following the article in The Commentator:

‘Robert’ Falk is, of course, the infamous Richard Falk. Despite his position since 2008 as ‘UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian Territories’, he makes no pretence of objectivity. Here  is Falk on his personal blog expressing support for the 2010 Stuttgart Declaration which opposes a two-state solution and at the bottom line calls for the eradication of Israel.

As The Commentator points out, his anti-Israel ‘CV’ includes much more.

“In a nutshell, Falk is so hostile to Israel that he’s a de facto anti-Israel activist. But even that fails to do justice to the sheer viciousness of his diatribes against the Jewish state. Here’s just a smattering of examples of his approach. First there are the suggested comparisons with Nazi Germany. He has sometimes claimed that he doesn’t quite mean it literally. On others he has talked of Israeli policies as “genocidal”.

He’s ambivalent about Hamas as a terrorist outfit. His language about Israel is peppered with references to “apartheid“, “criminality“, “collective punishment“ and so on. The picture is clear enough.”

Read the whole article here.

So if the BBC could not get Falk’s name right, does that also mean that they failed to run a background check on his suitability as a quotable source before publishing an article relying so heavily upon his opinions? 

And why (just like the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood only a few days ago) did Yolande Knell fail to point out that the two Palestinian prisoners named in her article – Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahla (Tha’er Halahleh) – are Islamic Jihad activists

In Hebrew there is a useful phrase: ‘Itonut mita’am’ – עיתונות מטעם – which translates as ‘media on behalf of’. The British public funding the BBC through its compulsory license fee may well ask on behalf of whom or what. 

Joy Wolfe: On Habima Theatre Company, Boycotts and BUYcotts

A guest post by Joy Wolfe, StandWithUs UK chairwoman  and co-President of the Zionist Federation

StandWithUs UK and many other UK organisations and individuals have applauded the high profile figures (Arnold Wesker, Ronald Harwood, Maureen Lipman, Simon Callow, Louise Mensch MP and Steven Berkoff) who have opposed calls for the Globe Theatre in London to disinvite the world-renowned Israeli Habima Theatre Company.

We also congratulate Howard Jacobson on his positive stand in supporting Habima.

Boycotts of any kind are totally counter productive and do nothing to help the Palestinians.

Hopefully the BDS brigade will think again about disrupting a performance that the majority of the audience wish to support and enjoy.  However, if they do press ahead with their publicly declared threat to cause a disturbance I hope they will be quickly ejected and face legal consequences.

Cultural, academic and trade boycotts are particularly counter productive when Israel has so much to offer the international community.

Not only are they counter productive but often have the exact opposite of the desired effect as people often go out of their way to support companies and shops that are targeted.  Recently in Canada, a targeted shop the boycotters were trying to disrupt was inundated with pro-Israel customers who previously had never even heard of the company.

Another example of a misguided attempt to help the Palestinians was the failed April 15th “Welcome to Palestine” flytilla, when over 1500 pro Palestinian protesters had planned to fly into Israel to disrupt Ben Gurion Airport before moving on to carry out alleged humanitarian visits to “Palestinian prisoners”.

In a brilliantly crafted response, Israel had alerted airlines to the fact that those denied entry into Israel would have to be flown home at the airlines’ expense.  As a result, hundreds were refused boarding at a number of European airports and around 40 who did succeed in arriving in Israel were sent home with a pithily written letter noting all the genuine human rights issues around the world, not least in Syria, where their protests would be better directed.

In the meantime, despite the best efforts of the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) campaigners, there are so many positives to prove just how unsuccessful they are.  Israeli trade with the UK has never been at a higher level, academics from Israel and the UK are working together in many cooperative projects, Israel has just signed a new aviation agreement with the EU, and Israel and the UK have an extensive programme of business and academic joint projects.

We should reduce our efforts to counter BDS activists, and similar reactive measures, which give them the added oxygen of the publicity they seek, and concentrate instead on spreading the good news about Israel’s achievements and cooperation with grass-roots Palestinians, which are much more positive and effective ways to create an atmosphere more conducive to moving the peace process forward.