How Israel “incarcerates” Christian Bethlehem – a Guardian Production

In 2012, CAMERA refuted an egregiously propagandistic 60 Minutes report by Bob Simon, which included the assertion that Israel’s security barrier “completely surrounds Bethlehem, turning the ‘little town’ where Christ was born into what its residents call ‘an open air prison.’”  As CAMERA demonstrated (citing maps by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the United Nations, B’tselem, and the PLO), the  barrier is located to the north and west of the city, and does not encircle the town.

While such details about the fence – constructed to protect Israel’s citizens from waves of deadly suicide bombings in the early 2000s – may seem like a somewhat minor point, such agitprop evoking a Christian holy city encircled and besieged by the Jewish State is something of a Christmas tradition within much of the media. 

Though last year during Christmas it was Times of London which lamented the “settlement’s which choke the peace in tiny Bethlehem”,  in years prior it was the Guardian which intoned that ‘If Jesus were to come this year, Bethlehem would be closed’.

This year, the Guardian has re-introduced readers to the ‘imprisoned’ town, publishing two articles (and a video story) which center around a documentary by Palestinian director Leila Sansour titled Open Bethlehem.

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CiF Watch follow up: Guardian blogger axed after crazy post about Gaza War

During the summer war in Gaza, we posted about Nafeez Ahmed, who published a truly bizarre, conspiratorial-minded post (at the Guardian’s Environmental blog!) claiming that Israel’s war was largely motivated by the desire to steal Palestinian natural gas.

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As we noted at the time, Ahmed’s theory on the “root cause” of the current conflict – which we fisked here - was not at all surprising given his history of such fanciful “truth” telling regarding the evidently “secret”, untold histories of the 9/11 attacks and the 7/7 London bombings.

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Richard Millett challenges Palestinian ambassador over Har Nof killings

Cross posted from Richard Millett’s Blog

On Tuesday night in Parliament I asked Manuel Hassassian, the unofficial Palestinian ambassador to the UK, why in the speech he had just delivered in which he accused Israel of “war crimes” he made no mention of Palestinian violence, specifically the recent murders by two Palestinians of four Rabbis and a Druze policeman at a west Jerusalem synagogue.

He answered me directly but when he said that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had condemned the killings I reminded him, as you can see in the clip below, that Abbas had incited the murders in the first place with his violent rhetoric including imploring Palestinians to use “all means” to stop Jews visiting the Temple Mount.

Here is our confrontation:

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A response to Grahame Morris MP on the ‘root cause’ of antisemitic violence

(This op-ed by Geoffrey Alderman originally appeared in The Journal, a newspaper widely circulating in the north-east of England.)

On Tuesday 18 November two Palestinian-Islamic terrorists entered a synagogue in Jerusalem (the capital of Israel, the Jewish state) and, armed with an assortment of knives, cleavers and a gun began to hack and shoot to death as many Jews as they could. Eventually the murders were themselves gunned down. Whilst Israel buried its dead the evil deeds of the two Palestinians were celebrated by many throughout the Arab world. They were – Palestinian spokespersons declared – “martyrs” – the latest “heroes” in the 66-year-old Arab war against the nation-state of the Jews.

Who is responsible for this state of affairs, and in particular for the mindset that can result in a history of wholly indiscriminate attacks on Jews in Israel and beyond, launched from within the Arab world? On 13 October Graham Morris, the Labour MP for Easington, sought to argue in the House of Commons that the root cause of Palestinian hostility to Israel was that whilst the Jews had a state of their own, the Palestinians did not. He therefore put before the Commons a motion – eventually passed after amendment – calling for British recognition of “the state of Palestine” alongside the state of Israel “as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution.”

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UK media absurd political analogy watch: The Berlin Wall & Israel’s Security Barrier

Ben Zygier (known as Prisoner X) was the Australian-Israeli Mossad agent imprisoned at Ayalon Prison in Ramla on espionage charges who committed suicide in his cell in 2010.

The 2013 row over revelations regarding Zygier’s incarceration and suicide received saturation coverage at the Guardian, and included this claim by Peter Beaumont – then foreign affairs editor for The Observer, sister site of the Guardian – in a report on Feb. 14th.

“The latest revelations come amid a growing outcry over the case in Israel, with some comparing the treatment of Zygier to that meted out in the Soviet Union or Argentina and Chile under their military dictatorships.”

The comparison, as we noted at the time, was simply bizarre. Indeed, the very term “Prisoner X”, implying that his identity and whereabouts were mysterious, was itself a misnomer, as Zygier’s original arrest warrant was issued by an authorized court, his incarceration was supervised by the Israeli judiciary, and the proceedings were overseen by the most senior Justice Ministry officials. Zygier was also legally represented by a top Israeli lawyer.

To evoke a comparison with the USSR – where several million Soviet “enemies of the state” died (due to overwork, starvation, torture or summary executions) after being sent, without anything resembling due process, to Gulag camps – is risible.

More recently, we found another example of the media’s use of a blatantly false analogy – in an article published at i100 (The Independent’s Buzzfeed-style news brand).

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Per the Guardian: A Palestinian certainly got shot; Israelis possibly “got stabbed”

A few hours ago, A Palestinian terrorist (reportedly from the West Bank town Al-Azariya) stabbed two people at a Rami Levy supermarket in Mishor Adumim. The terrorist was then shot by an off-duty security guard. The Israeli victims were evacuated to Jerusalem for treatment.  

According to multiple news reports on the incident, the facts are not in dispute. 

Both CBS News and the Guardian published versions of the same Associated Press (AP) story on the incident.

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Guardian Letter: Palestinians are indigenous to the land, descendants of Canaanites

A letter published in the Guardian on Dec. 3, by Maher Othman of London, opened with the following passages:

Though I agree with Giles Fraser’s analysis (Loose canon, 29 November) that “Netanyahu’s nationality bill is at odds with [the] Hebrew Bible,” and contradicts Israel’s declaration of independence, which affirms “complete social and political equality for all its citizens, regardless of religion, race or gender”, his quotation from the Book of Numbers – “The community is to have the same rules for you and for the foreigner residing among you” – raises the question of who is and who is not a foreigner in historic Palestine.

The Palestinians consider themselves the indigenous people of the land and descendants of the Canaanites, while the population of Israel, which was established in part of Palestine in 1948, is made up of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Arab countries, Europe, the US and other countries.

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CiF Watch prompts another UK media correction to ‘fired’ Arab workers claim

As we noted in a post yesterday, CiF Watch recently prompted a correction to a Dec. 1st Times of London article (Israel poised to vote on law for ‘Jewish state’) which alleged that the mayor of the Israeli city of Ashkelon barred Palestinian construction workers from city schools.  We demonstrated that Mayor Shimshoni, per multiple press reports over the last week, at first did announced his intention to prevent Arab workers from working at city kindergartens, but later rescinded his order following criticism from across the Israeli political spectrum.

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British newspaper amplifies extremist message of Israel’s Islamic Movement

Up until now, the most egregious distortion, within the UK media’s coverage of the proposed ‘Jewish nation-state’ legislation, was represented by Times of London headlines suggesting that the law, if passed, would render Arab-Israelis “second-class citizens”.  

Through communication with Times of London editors, they agreed to add quotes around the term “second-class citizens” to reflect the fact that that charge merely represents the hyperbole of a few political figures in expressing their opposition to the law. (See this good backgrounder on the proposed bill, which would not erode the individual rights of non-Jews in Israel, yet alone result in ‘transfer’.)

However, the British newspaper The Telegraph has published an even more inflammatory and misleading article on the possible ramifications of the proposed law (Meet the Arab-Israelis living in fear of expulsion, Dec. 1). The article, written by their Middle East correspondent Robert Tait, amplifies the ludicrous charge by some Arab extremists that the legislation would result in the forced expulsion of Arab-Israelis.

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CiF Watch prompts correction to Times of London claim over ‘fired’ Arab workers

A Dec. 1st Times of London article (Israel poised to vote on law for ‘Jewish state’) makes the claim that the mayor of the Israeli city of Ashkelon barred Palestinian construction workers from city schools.

Times Mayor
This is not accurate.

Mayor Shimshoni, per multiple press reports over the last few days, at first did announce that he was going to prevent Arab workers from working at city kindergartens where new bomb shelters were being installed, but then rescinded his order following criticism from across the Israeli political spectrum.

 

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Matti Friedman helps us understand the Guardian’s coverage of Israel

In carrying out our mission, CiF Watch often attempts to contextualize the Guardian’s coverage of Israel by explaining not only what they get wrong, but also why they get it wrong.  So, in August we posted excerpts from a superb article by former AP Jerusalem correspondent Matti Friedman, in Tablet Magazine, which masterfully dissected the widespread institutional bias which distorts coverage of Israel and the Middle East.

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Friedman’s latest essay (What the media gets wrong about Israel),  published on Nov. 30th in The Atlantic, is another must-read for those who’ve thought seriously about the skewed coverage of Israel at the Guardian – and within much of the UK media.

Here are a few of the more interesting passages from Friedman’s essay.

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Guardian columnist Giles Fraser should know better than to hold Jews to higher standards

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Giles Fraser

“Of all people”, opined Giles Fraser in his Nov. 28th Guardian column about the proposed Jewish nation-state law, “Jews know what it is to live in somebody else’s country, without rights, subject to their laws, subject to their prejudices”, before citing the following verse from the Hebrew Bible (Numbers 15:15):

“The community is to have the same rules for you and for the foreigner residing among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the foreigner shall be the same before the Lord. The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the foreigner residing among you.”

The point of citing scripture for Fraser is quite simple: 

“the Bible insists that both Jews and non-Jews are to be subject to the same laws, the latter having the same legal protections as the former.”

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