Arafat Jaradat and the torture of Palestinian prisoners that the Guardian won’t report

In late February, the Guardian devoted six separate news items (three stories and three photo posts) to the death of a Palestinian – named Arafat Jaradat – in an Israeli jail.  The stories, which all portrayed Jaradat and his ’cause’ in a sympathetic light, focused on baseless allegations by the PA that Jaradat, an Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade member who was arrested for terror activity, died as the result of torture – claims which were contradicted by the autopsy performed by Israel’s top forensic pathologists. 

Here are the Guardian’s reports:

Item 1 (Phoebe Greenwood)

1

Item 2 (Associated Press)

2

Item 3 (Phoebe Greenwood)

4

Items 4 and 5: (Two photos relating to Jaradat from the same Feb. 25 edition of the Guardian’s ‘Picture Desk Live’)

1 and a half

1 and a half part 2

Item (Picture Desk Live, Feb. 26)

Though the PA’s claims of torture received significant coverage, subsequent reports (only a few days later) by Israeli pathologists – that the hemorrhages and fractured ribs found during the autopsy were caused by resuscitation attempts performed by medical staff, and not due to physical abuse – received no coverage in the Guardian.

Indeed, such myopic and at times obsessive focus on Israeli culpability is part of a pattern at the Guardian.

Similarly unreported by the paper are the myriad of credible charges of torture by Palestinian Authority security and prison personnel against Palestinian prisoners.  As Khaled Abu Toameh recently reported:

As a report [by Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR)] shows, there has been a 10% increase in the number of complaints of torture and mistreatment by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority during 2012 compared with the year before.

More than half of the 306 complaints about torture that were received last year came from Palestinians who had been detained or imprisoned by Abbas’s security forces in the West Bank, the report revealed.

Altogether, 11 detainees died in Palestinian Authority and Hamas prisons last year, according to the report.

One recent example of torture by PA security personnel was detailed in an April ICHR report.

The complaint of torture filed by Muhammad Abdelkareem Dar Muhammad, from Hebron, was one of the major complaints ICHR received in this regard. He claimed that he was subjected to torture and ill-treatment while detained by the [Palestinian] Preventive Security Agency in Hebron. On [April 28] 2013, he was rushed to the Public Hospital of Hebron for the second time after suffering speech impairment and injuries due to being subjected to beating on the head while hand-cuffed in solitary confinement throughout the period of his detention.

Yet, in contrast to the Guardian’s intense focus on one unsubstantiated accusation of torture in an Israeli jail, we were unable to find any mention at all by Guardian reporters or ‘CiF’ contributors of Muhammad Abdelkareem Dar Muhammad’s case, nor any of the other instances of torture and abuse of Palestinian prisoners in PA jails.

Though we’ve often charged the Guardian with consistently engaging in ‘activist journalism’ – searching for evidence to buttress preconceived pro-Palestinian conclusions – this observation is likely only half correct. The ubiquity of reporting alleging Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians stands in contrast to the dearth of stories in the paper highlighting Palestinian mistreatment of fellow Palestinians – all of which suggests that advancing a narrative of Israeli oppression is of far greater concern to their reporters than genuine advocacy on behalf of Palestinian human rights.    

Harriet Sherwood on today’s Palestinian rocket attack: An error & an improvement

Earlier today Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired four Kassam rockets at Israel, triggering red alert sirens throughout the south.  One rocket landed in a residential courtyard in Sderot, seen here:

rocketAt 10:26 GMT, the Guardian’s Live Blog on President Obama’s visit to Israel included the following dispatch by Harriet Sherwood.

Two rockets fired from Gaza landed in Sderot, an Israeli city in southern Israel, this morning. It was the first time that militants in Gaza have fired rockets since a truce ended the eight-day mini-war, Operation Pillar of Defence, in November.

According to Israel’s Army Radio, one of the rockets exploded in the yard of the Haziza family. The mother of the family, Sara, said: “Let Obama come and see how people live, we build houses and villas but we live inside a cage, in a protected room. Nothing is worth it for us. Let Obama come and see how an eight-year old girl has to run to a protected room that is completely open, and how I can’t close the door of the protected room.”

Obama referred to the southern Israel city, which he visited before becoming president, in his short speech on arrival in Israel, saying: “I’ve stood in Sderot, and met with children who simply want to grow up free from fear.”

There were no casualties, and no immediate claim of responsibility. [emphasis added]

First, it is important to note that Sherwood’s brief post represents an improvement in comparison to how the Guardian typically covers news of such terrorist attacks. She personalized the Israeli victims, noting the name of the family whose home was nearly hit, and even included a quote by the mother of the family.  (For additional posts on Sherwood’s improvement in covering the region, see here and here.)

However, Sherwood made an error. Today’s rocket attacks were not the first since the end of ‘Pillar of Defense’.

On Dec. 23, 2012, Palestinians in Gaza fired a rocket aimed at Israel (but which didn’t reach the Israeli side of the border).  

Additionally, on Feb. 26, 2013, Palestinians fired an M-75 rocket at the city of Ashkelon.  (The rocket fell on a road south of the city.) Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the terrorist group associated with the party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Fatah, claimed responsibility for the attack.  The group reportedly stated that the attack was a response to the death of Al Aqsa Brigades member Arafat Jaradat while in Israeli custody. 

Of further interest in the context of Sherwood’s omission, the the Guardian’s  actually reported the Feb 26 rocket attack on Ashkelon, on that day’s edition of their ongoing Middle East ‘Live Blog’.

Will Guardian report on Palestinian prisoner who died in ‘Palestinian Authority’ prison?

H/T This Ongoing War

On Feb. 25 we commented on the Guardian’s coverage of the death of Arafat Jaradat in an Israeli prison.  

Phoebe Greenwood led her Feb. 24 Guardian report with completely unsubstantiated claims by the Palestinian Authority that Jaradat, an Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade member who was arrested on Feb. 18 due to his alleged involvement in a rock-throwing attack that injured an Israeli, died as the result of torture.  

Jaradat’s death, and subsequent funeral, inspired several days of rioting in the West Bank. 

The Guardian published two stories on Jaradat’s death in two days.

pal prisoner

We noted in our post that Israeli pathologists involved in Jaradat’s autopsy were awaiting the results of tests which would help determine the cause of the death and whether there was any credence to charges that he was tortured.

On Thursday, Feb. 28, Israeli authorities published the first results of the pathologists’ tests. 

Times of Israel wrote the following:

The preliminary results of Arafat Jaradat’s autopsy reveal no signs of violence or poisoning, Israeli pathologists revealed Thursday, contradicting previous statements by a Palestinian doctor who attended the procedure.

A team of Israeli doctors headed by Professor Yehuda Hiss of the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute, Professor Arnon Afek, the Health Ministry’s Director of Health Administration, and Professor Iris Barshack, chief pathologist at the Sheba Medical Center, reported based on an examination of microscopic remains from the late Jaradat’s body that “no evidence was found of poisoning and no evidence was found of physical violence. According to a statement by the Health Ministry, Jaradat’s internal bleeding and fractured bones were characteristic of the 50 minutes of resuscitation attempts made by prison staff and emergency response staff to save his life. The forensic institute will continue to conduct examinations in order to determine Jaradat’s cause of death.”

Whilst the question of whether Greenwood, or anyone else at the Guardian, will update the story on Jaradat to include the latest evidence regarding his death is worth raising, another parallel event has occurred which may serve as an effective barometer on the consistency of the Guardian’s coverage. 

The following was reported at Ma’an News Agency on May 1.

A prisoner being held in a Palestinian Authority jail in Jericho died on Friday, a senior Palestinian official said.

Ayman Mohammad Sharif Samara, 40, died while being detained on charges of assault, Palestinian Authority attorney general Muhammad Abdul-Ghani al-Uweiwi told Ma’an.

He was arrested on Friday and transferred to a nearby hospital, where he passed away, al-Uweiwi said.

The PA attorney general denied that the prisoner was tortured or beaten during interrogations and said that an autopsy would be performed and the results made public once completed.

In addition to the question of whether Ayman Mohammad Sharif Samara will get a “hero’s welcome” by Palestinians after his funeral, it will be interesting to see if the Guardian devotes any coverage at all to the Palestinian prisoner’s death while in Palestinian Authority custody.

You may wish to Tweet the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood, or Phoebe Greenwood, to pique their interest in the story.

UPDATE: An AP feed on the Guardian’s site carried this report on the death of Samara.

The Guardian’s Phoebe Greenwood ignores Arafat Jaradat’s terror affiliation

Israeli pathologists involved in the autopsy of a Palestinian prisoner named Arafat Jaradat, who died in Megiddo Prison on Saturday, are awaiting the results of toxicology tests (that might take weeks to receive) which may definitively determine the cause of death.

The death of Jaradat, who was arrested on Feb. 18 after residents in his West Bank village reported that he “was involved in a rock-throwing attack” that injured an Israeli, sparked rioting in Hebron and other cities in the West Bank – a characteristic rush to judgement by Palestinian radicals which mirrors the journalistic rush to judgement by Phoebe Greenwood.

Greenwood led her Feb. 24 Guardian report with unsubstantiated claims by the Palestinian Authority that Jaradat died as the result of torture.

greenwoodHere’s how the story is presented on the Guardian’s home page, employing inverted quotes around the words “tortured in prison” and deleting the qualifier, “says Palestinian Authority”.

Hebron

Greenwood’s piece begins thusly:

A Palestinian prisoner whose death in Israeli custody fanned violent clashes across the West Bank over the weekend was tortured before he died, the Palestinian Authority has said.

The results of an autopsy conducted in Tel Aviv were revealed at a press conference in Ramallah on Sunday evening after a day of angry protests across the West Bank and Gaza in which dozens were injured.

The findings contradict the Israeli prison service’s claim that Arafat Jaradat died on Saturday from a cardiac arrest.

A Palestinian doctor’s investigations found that while Jaradat’s arteries were clear, the state of his body suggested he had been beaten in the days before his death.

It isn’t until the fifth paragraph that the Israeli version is emphasized.

That contrasts with an Israeli health ministry statement that said that the autopsy found “no signs of external trauma … apart from those pertaining to resuscitation [attempts] and a small graze on the right side of his chest”.

It said: “No evidence of disease was found during the autopsy. Two internal hemorrhages were detected, one on the shoulder and one on the right side of the chest. Two ribs were broken, which may indicate resuscitation attempts. The initial findings cannot determine the cause of death. At this stage, until microscopic and toxicology reports are in, the cause of death cannot be tied to the autopsy findings.”

Then, we’re treated to Greenwood’s selective bio of Jaradat.

The 30-year-old, a petrol station worker and father of two, was arrested on 18 February in relation to a stone-throwing incident in November during which an Israeli was slightly injured. [emphasis added]

However, unbeknownst to those who depend on the Guardian as their source for information on events in the Palestinian territories, when Jaradat wasn’t working in a petrol station and providing for his two children, he was evidently involved in other, far less noble pursuits.

According to multiple sources, including even the BBC and Arab sites such as Ahram Online, Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, Jaradat was a member of Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade – the terror group affiliated with Fatah.

Here’s the relevant passage from Ahram:

Al Aqsa brigades, the armed wing of the Fatah national liberation movement, mourns with all pride its hero, the martyr of freedom, the prisoner Arafat Jaradat,” the statement said, in reference to Jaradat’s membership of the group.

Here’s Al Jazeera:

Palestinians said Jaradat was a member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement.

Remarkably, even Wafa, the official Palestinian Authority news agency, reported on Jaradat’s ‘suspected’ affiliation:

Violent clashes with Israeli soldiers broke out after the death of prisoner Arafat Jaradat, a father of three and charged of affiliation with al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, in Megiddo Israeli prison Saturday as a result to possible torture during interrogation.

Whilst the PA’s motivation for propagandizing about Jaradat’s death is clear – and thoroughly consistent with what many believe has been their tacit encouragement for the increasing number of violent Palestinian confrontations with the IDF in recent weeks – Greenwood’s putative role as a professional journalist requires that she avoid ideologically inspired, selective reporting.  

Though we likely won’t learn the cause of Jaradat’s death for weeks, until that time we can be assured that subsequent Guardian reports on the incident will continue to ignore information which interferes with desired narratives invariably showing the deceased Palestinian prisoner in the most favorable light.

2013 minus 1965 equals 48 years of Fatah terrorism

H/T Israellycool

As Hadar Sela noted, the BBC erroneously reported that Fatah celebrated its 48th anniversary, at a huge rally in Gaza on Friday, when, in fact – as the group was founded in 1959 – 2013 marks 54 years since the birth of the Palestinian group.

However, it has indeed been 48 years since one particular event in Fatah history.

Sela wrote:

“What Fatah is in fact celebrating is the 48thanniversary of its first armed attack on Israel which took place on January 1st 1965.”

Interestingly, while other news sites also curiously got the political math wrong, the Guardian got it right, before getting it wrong, in an Agency report titled Mass rally in Gaza to support Palestinian President’s Fatah faction, Jan. 4.

First, there was this:

“Throngs camped out overnight in a downtown Gaza square to ensure themselves a spot for the anniversary commemoration of Fatah’s 1959 founding, and tens of thousands marched early Friday, carrying yellow Fatah banners.”

Later in the same piece, there was this:

“The demonstration marked 48 years since Fatah’s founding as the spearhead of the Palestinians’ fight against Israel.”

Indeed, in only 48 (or 54) years, Fatah has achieved so much.

Per CAMERA:

“Fatah’s armed units such as the Tanzim, Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, and Force 17 have organized, coordinated and carried out hundreds of terrorist attacks against civilians.

During the second intifada, Fatah Tanzim and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claimed responsibility for over 300 attacks in which civilians were killed, and according to Israeli authorities, Fatah-linked groups have attempted or carried out more than 1,500 attacks. (International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT)”

Elder of Ziyon posted some photos from the joyous festivities in Gaza.

1st

As usual, Fatah created a decidedly family-friendly event:

Fatah 1

Fatah 9

Sela noted that among those terror leaders praised by the “moderate” Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, “were Hamas founders Ahmed Yassin and Abed Aziz al Rantissi as well as the founder of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Fathi Shiqaqi“.

The frequently shrill, often unserious and increasingly hysterical warnings about Israel’s supposed dangerous move to the right – parroted most recently by the Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland - is almost entirely devoid of context regarding a sclerotic Palestinian political culture which hasn’t even marginally moved beyond the glorification of violence and demonization of Jews.   

It’s truly baffling why so many sensitive souls who advocate on behalf of Palestinians don’t recoil in the face of such political pathos, and evidently can’t empathize with the large majority of Israelis who hesitate to midwife a new state on its eastern border which will, in all likelihood, continue to be compromised by such a reactionary, racist and terrorist ethos.  

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Why any Israeli can be murdered by Palestinian terrorists, as explained by Chris McGreal

A guest post by Richard Millett

Meet Abu Jindal and Abu Nizar. Up until fairly recent times they might have been fixing cars for Israelis. Nizar’s father even “had good things to say about the Israelis he knew”.

But those days are long gone and now Nizar, the son, has little problem with the rockets he fires into Israel causing civilian casualties “such as the three who died…from rockets fired from Gaza in recent round of fighting.” For Nizar “there is no such thing as a civilian on the other side.”

So what makes it so easy for Nizar and Jindal to murder innocent Israeli men, women and children?

Judging from Chris McGreal’s piece, ‘Gaza’s cycle of aggression shapes new generations more militant than the last’, published in the Guardian on Nov. 23, it’s all Israel’s fault with Nizar and Jindal having little, if any, responsibility for their terrorist activities.

McGreal describes the evidently violent childhoods that led to Nizar and Jindal firing rockets from Gaza and, possibly, murdering the three above-mentioned ‘civilians’ Ahron Smadga, Yitzchak Amselam and 25 year-old Mira Scharf in Kiryat Malachi. Scharf was pregnant.

Sickeningly, McGreal allows Nizar and Jindal the space in his piece to excuse themselves as mere victims, the implication being that the real criminals were Smadga, Amselam, Scharf and Scharf’s unborn child who weren’t “civilians”.

Incidentally, Scharf had recently returned to Israel to give birth and to attend the memorial service of her friends the Holtzbergs who were murdered in the 2008 Mumbai massacre. They all died on the same day of the Hebrew calendar four years apart.

Jindal and Nizar belong to the terrorist group Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and McGreal’s piece attempts to evoke much sympathy for them. Jindal is quoted by McGreal, thus:

“The Israelis have always killed children in Gaza. They came here to kill children during this [latest] war. Our children see it.”

Nizar claims his school friends “were killed by an Apache helicopter”.

Even McGreal, not content with merely evoking Israeli “machine gun fire” which “shreds Palestinian homes”, adds the following:

“[Palestinian children] worshiped ‘martyrs’, whether they were suicide bombers who killed Israelis on buses in Jerusalem, armed men fighting Israeli soldiers, or the children shot at their school desks in Gaza by Israeli gunfire.” (my emphasis)

Neither Nizar’s school friends shot from the sky, nor McGreal’s school children shot at their school desks are named. No evidence is offered. The unsubstantiated accusations are just thrown in.

In case the reader doesn’t quite understand that these are attempted justifications for Jindal and Nizar slaughtering innocent Israelis McGreal decides to import two old Guardian pieces of his. These give the views of two child psychologists in an attempt to help solidify the images of Jindal and Nizar as helpless victims.

In the piece from 2004 Usama Freona claimed “The levels of violence children are exposed to is horrific…Most of them were crying and shaking when they were speaking about their experiences”. In the 2009 piece Dr Abdel Aziz Mousa Thabet claimed that due to the traumatising effect of violence on children “they become fighters”.

The possibility that these two vile terrorists might be committed to the destruction of Israel and murder of its Jewish inhabitants on purely ideological grounds isn’t considered by McGreal.

Incredibly, McGreal’s piece on Dr Thabet still describes 12 year-old Mohammed al-Dura as being shot dead by Israeli gunfire despite overwhelming evidence produced over the years disproving that particular allegation and the even more insidious charge that the boy was actually targeted by the IDF.

McGreal is obviously keen in prolonging this blood libel.

McGreal admits that Palestinian children are sometimes taught in their schools and mosques to despise Jews but he sees that, mainly, as an excuse used by Israelis to absolve themselves of blame for why each generation of Palestinians seems more militant and violent.

Abu Nizar concludes, thus:

“The end of Israel is getting closer”.

By the way, next week The Guardian will be running a full-page piece on McGreal’s interview with two Al Qaida “fighters”. The “fighters” explain why they are at ease with their fellow Islamists slaughtering 52 British citizens in the London bus and tube bombings of 2005 and why, for them, there is no such thing as a British civilian.

Or, maybe, The Guardian won’t run it.

Maybe for The Guardian only the slaughter of innocent Israeli men, women and children (and unborn babies) can be explained with such apparent ease: No Israeli is a civilian. No Israeli is an innocent victim.

Yitzchak Amsalam, Ahron Smadga and Mira Scharf

1 of 1000: First person account of ’04 apprehension of (newly released) Palestinian terrorist

A guest post by Marc

Amongst the names of Palestinian prisoners freed by Israel in the second wave of releases in exchange for Gilad Shalit was a man named Tastos Zaki Husni Sultan.

(Full list available here and in English here though only the Hebrew actually states the crimes they were indicted for).

I remember well the day we arrested him in his home town Nablus. Though it wasn’t what he eventually was convicted of, we were told at the time by the Shin Bet that the main reason he was important to the terrorist networks was that he was the link between Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and Hezbollah.

We were also told that he would be armed and ready to fight when we came for him. He was convicted for (forgive the direct translations from the Hebrew):

“Firing at people, throwing Molotov cocktails, membership in an unknown terrorist organization, providing shelter to terrorists.”

The mission resulted in the arrest of both Tastos and another terrorist named Jamal Sa’adon.

Both were among the top 5 most wanted terrorists in the city and we had rehearsed the operation that would ultimately result in their capture many times. It was in 2004 (when I was approaching the end of my service) that that we grabbed them. We had already aborted the operation in various stages of carrying it out many times due to last-minute intelligence telling us that he was no longer in the hideout we were targeting.

The operation was considered so sensitive that military vehicles had been forbidden from driving past the apartment block that his family lived in for fear that it would spook him from returning there and ruin our chances of picking him up.

We were guarding the settlement of Migdalim when we were told to get our body armour on and pile into the vehicles. I didn’t think that the op was going to go ahead after it had already been aborted so many times, but the drivers gunned their engines and we were off. I waited for the mission to be aborted right up until the point that the vehicles stopped outside the building and we launched out into the hostile territory outside.

Once the residents of the block had been brought out of the building the search team went in, and no one was under any doubt that this man would come quietly. I spotted a hand emerge from the building to close a window when everyone was supposed to be outside. The squad commander directed the search team to an apartment they had already searched.

After the 2nd unsuccessful search they took no chances, and threw in a grenade.

Once the noise of the explosion died down the search team could hear muffled cries of surrender coming from somewhere deep within.  A hand emerged from a kitchen cabinet that was only waist-high. The terrorists had pulled a small brick out of the back of this cabinet and squeezed into a tiny hollow that they had carved out behind it.

We had only expected to find Tastos, so Sa’adon was an extra surprise, who had previously spent 17 years in an Israeli prison.  

After serving that term, he murdered the son of the mayor of Nablus by mistake while trying to kill the mayor – who he evidently considered to be too moderate. The list of his crimes was endless and he was not one of those released in the deal for Shalit.

Tastos had been a wanted man in the Casbah of Nablus for years prior to finally being captured. He had been responsible for terror attacks that had undoubtedly resulted in deaths of innocent civilians, and provided a level of technical sophistication to the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade that allowed them to perpetrate attacks and gain information that otherwise wouldn’t have been available to them.

But when the army came for him, when he was looking death in the face, he knew better than the fellow terrorists he inspired and so chose prison instead – despite the fact that he was armed when he surrendered.

Tastos is just one out of a thousand people who have now been thrown back into the mix for Gilad Shalit.  

There is no right or wrong answer to the question of whether it was worth it or not.

The whole country breathed a collective sigh of relief when Gilad came home and now we all just have to wait and see what damage terrorists like Tastos may do. 

The Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood Gets 2012 Off to a Shoddy Start

This is cross posted by Simon Ploskerat HonestReporting

The newsprint has barely dried on the back of 2011 that saw The Guardian deservedly pick up the annual Dishonest Reporter Award. This hasn’t, however, stopped the paper’s Harriet Sherwood from carrying on where The Guardian left off with her first dispatch of the new year.

According to Sherwood, a supposedly reformed Palestinian terrorist has had his amnesty revoked by Israeli authorities:

Zakaria Zubeidi, a former of leader of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, is being held by Palestinian security forces after being told he would be arrested by Israeli authorities if he did not hand himself in.

“I am in a Palestinian Authority jail in Jenin,” he told the Guardian by phone. His account could not be confirmed by either Israeli or Palestinian sources.

If Zubeidi’s account cannot be confirmed, why bother digging any deeper if it already fits The Guardian’s agenda? Sherwood has previously demonstrated an inability to do elementary research extending even to a simple Google search. In this case, the story is presented in typically black and white terms appreciated by Israel-hating Guardian readers as ‘peaceful reformed Palestinian held in Palestinian jail and it’s Israel’s fault.’

If the story fits that predetermined frame then why bother to do the same research or mention some salient points that other media outlets actually bothered with?

For example, here are some details in a report from Global Post that Sherwood failed to mention, all constructed from widely available existing news sources including Israeli media that Sherwood either didn’t bother to read or preferred to ignore:

The reason for the decision [to revoke the amnesty] has not yet been given. According to Arutz Sheva, Zubeidi was recently involved in an incident in Jenin in which “gunmen under his command pointed their guns at PA security officers.”

Ynet News also suggested that his detention had more to do with Palestinian authorities than Israeli ones:

Zubeidi […] is also on the Palestinian security forces’ radar – they accuse him of weapon offenses, which place him in violation of his clemency deal.

 Indeed YNet also reported:

Zubiedi stressed that the deal was, in fact, signed with the Palestinian security forces and “not between me and Israel.”

All this extra context and information that Harriet Sherwood failed to include. After all, why ruin a story if Israel might not actually be the only alleged bad guy in the piece?

An alternative tour of Palestine for liberal Guardian readers

Scouring the Guardian for anti-Israel and antisemitic bias isn’t as simple as merely reading their Israel, Palestinian Territories, Gaza or Jewish Belief pages on their main site, nor monitoring each commentary and blog at ‘Comment is Free’.

If only it was that easy.

To do an effective job at monitoring the Guardian involves scouring the paper for content in sections one might assume would be apolitical.

Indeed, the latest assault on Israel’s legitimacy can be found in the Travel section of the Guardian, in the innocuous sounding title, “Readers’ Travel writing competition 2011: Summer Holidays, Nov. 11th.

Arnot's depiction of life in Palestine includes this photo of the Kanafeh on sale in Nablus, Palestine. Photograph: Lucy Arnot

While the winner of the contest was an essay about travelling to Croatia, the Guardian also listed several notable “Runners Up”.

Among these was an entry titled “The Real Palestine”, by Lucy Arnot, from Scotland.

Arnot’s prose, in her brief essay, unsurprisingly, resembles allegory more than reality, conjuring the romanticized, bucolic Palestine of the Western liberal imagination.

If Edward Said defined Orientalism as the pervasive Western tradition, both academic and artistic, of prejudiced outsider interpretations of the East, shaped by the attitudes of European colonialism, Arnot’s observations about Palestine seem to represent the liberal, post-Colonial variant of such projections.

First, Arnot tantalizes us with Palestinians gastronomic delights in the form of “kanafeh, an amazing sweet-savoury dessert.”

Arnot, we’re then informed, “couldn’t help but fall in love with the place”, the “incredibly hospitable” of Palestinians in the towns of Bethlehem and Nablus, Hebron and Ramallah – the latter where she visited a Picasso exhibition, saw a dance troupe, had a coffee and nargila pipe in a local cafe.

In fairness, the “Real Israel” does makes a cameo appearance in the form of the all too familiar villainous character actor writ large.

When Arnot’s Israel enters the stage it is seen heartlessly confiscating hundreds of miles of Palestinian land – an inexplicable act of malice in the form of a security barrier – and a bit later there is the specter of faceless Israelis dumping rubbish onto the Palestinian souk in Hebron.

Arnot concludes her tale, thusly:

“For me, going to Palestine was about seeing for myself what’s going on there, meeting the people behind the headlines.”

More likely, her “Real” Palestine merely reflects her subservience to popular mores regarding the Jewish state which such “headlines” continually animate.

Perhaps on her next trip, however, she can take a genuinely alternative tour of Palestine, the Palestinian road truly less traveled by journalists and other sensitive souls:

Such a tour would need to include Palestinian journalists imprisoned by the PA for being critical of the government, and then a foray to the offices of Ha’aretz to view up close the workings of a free and feisty, and at times egregiously adversarial, press.

Arnot would visit Palestinian women who have been victims of domestic abuse, and Palestinian relatives of  “honor killing” victims (in which women are murdered by relatives for perceived sexual or moral transgressions), and then perhaps she could interview any number of Israeli women represented throughout every strata of Israeli society; from government, the judiciary, law, medicine, and the military.

Similarly, Arnot may want to visit Palestinians imprisoned by the PA for the “crime” of homosexuality, and then contrast such a culture with, for instance, Tel Aviv’s rich,vibrant, and thriving gay scene.

And, if Arnot wants to get a fuller take of Palestinian culture, she may want to attend one of the PA Authorities ubiquitous official ceremonies honoring the “heroism” of terrorists who achieved great feats in killing Israeli civilians. 

But, of course no truly alternative tour of Palestine would be complete without a visit to any number of the terrorist cells operating in the West Bank, such as al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades, a coalition of Palestinian militias who represent the military wing of Fatah, the largest faction in the current Palestinian government. 

Al Aqsa Martyr's Brigade Poster

Finally, no visit to Palestine would be complete without a slow, leisurely stroll through Ramallah’s trendy, upscale, neighborhood known as Al-Masyoun, where you simply can’t avoid encountering truly sublime Jihad.

Jewish traveler’s advisory: If you indeed visit Ramallah, as I did as part of a media tour last year, you’ll likely be warned, as I was, not to wear a Star of David, Kippah, or any other jewelry or clothing indicating that you’re Jewish.  Also, please note that, per Palestinian Authority officials, the future independent Palestinian state will be officially Jew-free.

(See “Palestinian Intolerance Tour” in a future post)

What the Guardian won’t report: Freed Palestinian terrorist implores Gaza children to follow her example

Per Ynet, a would-be Palestinian suicide bomber freed by Israel in the prisoner swap for Gilad Shalit told cheering schoolchildren in Gaza the day after her release on Wednesday she hoped they would follow her example.

“I hope you will walk the same path we took and God willing, we will see some of you as martyrs,” Wafa al-Biss told dozens of children who came to her home in the northern Gaza Strip.

Freed terrorist, turned children's motivational speaker in support of Jihad, Wafa al-Biss, with her mother

Biss was travelling to Beersheba’s Soroka hospital for medical treatment in 2005 when IDF soldiers at the Erez border crossing noticed she was walking strangely. They found 10 kgs (22 lbs) of explosives had been sewn into her underwear.

A member of al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an offshoot of President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, Biss was sentenced to a 12-year term for planning to blow herself up.

After she spoke, the children cheered and waved Palestinian flags and chanted: “We will give souls and blood to redeem the prisoners. We will give souls and blood for you, Palestine.”

Perhaps the only thing more certain than the fact that Palestinian terrorists released in the deal to free Gilad Shalit will continue on the path of Jihad, and implore others to follow in their example, is the fact that you will never read about such immutable malice towards innocent Israelis on the pages of the Guardian. 

Take the Palestinian Reconciliation Quiz

This is cross posted by Pesach Benson at the blog of Honest Reporting, Backspin.


Fatah and Hamas representatives reached a deal for national reconciliation. Many people are saying that the unity deal means Israel has a legitimate partner to negotiate peace.

Take the following quiz and see how well-informed you are about Hamas and Fatah coming together.

1) After Fatah and Hamas announced their unity deal, their first joint public meeting in Gaza was held in:
a. a neutral conference hall
b. a Fatah office
c. a Hamas office
d. a Palestinian Islamic Jihad office

Answer: Palestinian Islamic Jihad. It – along with other groups such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine — signed on to the deal. Of all the smaller factions, the PIJ’s especially galling: It once described Daniel Wultz as “the ideal target” because he was a Jewish American teenager injured in a PIJ suicide bombing. Wultz eventually died of his injuries and was eulogized in Congress.

These are the Palestinians we should praise for reconciling?

2) Fatah and its militia, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade:
a. say they want peace
b. say they want violence
c. offer separate messages to English and Arab audiences

Answer: Offer separate messages. No surprise there. Yasser Arafat frequently talked peace in English and talked jihad in Arabic, elevating doublespeak to an art form.

3) Which movement’s charter specifically identifies itself as a Palestinian “wing” of the Egyptian-based Muslim Brotherhood, itself a designated terror organization?
a. Fatah
b. Hamas
c. Palestine Forum
d. PFLP

Answer: Hamas. Come to think of it, the PLO charter may need tweeking too, depending on who you ask.

4) Which Mideast statesman’s doctoral thesis denying the Holocaust is widely taught in public schools today?
a. Bashar Assad
b. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
c. Mahmoud Abbas
d. Tayyip Recep Erdogan

Answer: Mahmoud Abbas. Just three days ago, David Bedein said:

. . . with the sanction of both the Palestinian school system, and the head of the Palestinian Authority himself, a new generation of Palestinian pupils learn that the mass murder of Jews in World War II was carried out by Jews.

5) According to recent polls, who continues to give Osama Bin Laden the highest popularity ratings?
a. Pakistanis
b. Indonesians
c. Palestinians
d. Algerians

Answer: Palestinians. Indeed, 34 percent of Palestinians polled said they had confidence in Bin Laden to do the right thing in world affairs. Muslims in no other country were as supportive.

Which leaves one question hanging.

Who is Israel supposed to make peace with?

Palestinian terrorists murder family of five, including 3 children, in Israeli town of Itamar (Residents in Gaza town of Rafah celebrate)

Palestinian terrorists infiltrated the Israeli city of Itamar, southeast of Nablus, early Shabbat morning and stabbed five family members to death – including children aged 11, 3, and a baby girl.  The family was asleep when the terrorist entered. (Three of the family’s children, age two, six and 12, are reported to be still alive.)

Though shots were heard shortly after the attack, the terrorists apparently were able to flee.  IDF Forces were quickly deployed in the area to assist in the search for the assailants.

According to an unverified report, Fatah’s military wing – the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades – claimed responsibility for the attack.

Paramedic Kabaha Muayua was among the first responders at the site and described the horrific scene he encountered.

“We could not help the first four stab victims. Following an inspection of the scene I spotted an infant of about three who still had a pulse. We engaged in lengthy resuscitation efforts but had to pronounce him dead,” he said. “The murder scene was shocking. Kids’ toys right next to pools of blood.”

Meanwhile, Hamas applauded the attack and, some residents of Gaza were seen celebrating the attack.

According to YNet:

Gaza residents from the southern city of Rafah hit the streets Saturday to celebrate the terror attack in the West Bank settlement of Itamar where five family members were murdered in their sleep, including three children.

Residents handed out candy and sweets, one resident saying the joy “is a natural response to the harm settlers inflict on the Palestinian residents in the West Bank.”

A Palestinian man offers sweets to Hamas policemen in the streets of the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah to celebrate the terrorist attack which killed five Israelis in the town of Itamar.

Guardian commentator Slavo Zizek muses on Jewish supremacism, poisoned wells, and a final solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Slavoj Žižek is a Guardian commentator, philosopher and unreformed communist who has attributed the attacks of 9/11 to the “antagonisms of global capitalism”, and has argued that Hitler’s greatest sin was that he was “not radical enough” in that he didn’t “dare to disturb the basic structure of the modern capitalist social space”, adding that the Nazi dictator “was not violent enough…not ‘essential’ enough.”

He has also recently joined a growing list of Guardian and CiF columnists who have opined that the Jewish state should not exist.

Writing for British left-wing political magazine The New Statesman, in an essay titled “Israel’s best hope lies in a single state“, Žižek begins by characterizing the wish of Jews in Israel to marry within the faith as a sinister, intolerant, and irrational hatred towards “the other”, meant to maintain racial purity – a fantastical tale which mocks Israeli “Guardians of Jewish purity” and manages to conjure “vigilante-style patrols work[ing] to stop Arab men from mixing with local Jewish girls.” [emphasis mine]

In Žižek’s imaginary Middle East, Israelis (and certainly not Hamas, PFLP, and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade) are the only real terrorists in the region: sinister political actors who – as anyone schooled in the dark history of Jewish malevolence in the world surely would not be surprised to know – are not above literally “poisoning” [Palestinian] water” wells.

The only just and final solution, according to Žižek, to this wretched nightmare named Israel is not a two-state solution but rather, to “abolish the apartheid [state] that exists” and replace it with one majority Arab state.

Žižek’s advocacy for the political destruction of the first sovereign Jewish polity in 2000 years should not be judged too harshly as, not unlike Mya Guarnieri, he’s clearly only trying to save Jews from themselves, to save – as Guarnieri so subtly put it – “Judaism’s very soul“, and indeed closes by sagely moralizing to Zionists, these “Israeli defenders of Jewish purity”, that “they want to protect [Israel] so much that they are ready to forsake the very core of Jewish identity.”

Adam Kirsch, reviewing Žižek’s book, In Defense of Lost Causes, for The New Republic, observed that to Žižek:

“Jews are a mere abstraction, objects of fantasy and speculation, that can be forced to play any number of roles in his psychic economy.”

Thus, it’s indeed very likely that his philosophical musings on the moral failings of Jews, and the moral necessity of the Jewish state’s demise, will continue to be welcomed at the Guardian.

Ramallah Dispatch: Public Square named after “Martyr”

While in Ramallah on Thursday I noticed a public square which seemed dedicated to someone with a terrorist affiliation, and took this photo of the sign marking the site.

Sure enough, a friend who’s fluent in Arabic confirmed that the sign (in a prominent retail district) says:

Field Commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade in Ramallah

Commander Ayman Rateb Jabarin

who became a martyr on June 22, 2006

Of course, this isn’t the first public square in Ramallah to be named after a terrorist. Dalal Mughrabi, who led one of the most lethal terror attacks in Israel’s history, was also memorialized in the city as a hero by the Palestinian Authority.

Gila’s Shrapnel (A short essay about an Israeli victim of the 2nd Intifada)

A few days ago marked the 10th anniversary of the start of the 2nd Intifada – armed attacks, suicide bombings, and launching Qassam rockets into Israel, all of which claimed over 1100 Israeli lives, with thousands more wounded.  Like most Israelis, I know one of the victims.  This essay is my attempt to briefly tell her story.

The suicide bomber who sent hundreds of pieces of shrapnel tearing into Gila Weiss’s body when she blew herself up at a bus stop next to Mahane Yehuda market (The Shuk) in Jerusalem in 2002, was a 21-year-old Palestinian woman disguised to look like she was pregnant.

The bomber, Andaleeb Taqataqah, was recruited by Aksa Martyrs Brigade – controlled by Fatah, which, at the time, was controlled by Yassir Arafat.

Weiss, then 31, was also so badly burned and disfigured by the blast that her roommate was able to identify her only by the nail varnish on her toenails – her feet protected, she noted, by the ”…brown leather Naot brand mini-boots that covered my feet up to right below my ankles”.


Nearly every part of Weiss’s body was pierced by shrapnel – bits and pieces of metal, glass, wood, pebbles, and plastic from objects damaged or destroyed by the blast, as well as, more than likely, pieces of the suicide bomber herself. Despite the many surgeries she had to endure, the doctors weren’t able to locate or remove every last piece, and, to this day, projectiles from that horrible day remain in her body.

The bomb which tore through Weiss was manufactured from three tubes of plastic explosives and a battery, which were placed in a black purse to camouflage it.

On the day of the attack, the terrorist was driven to Abu Dis and from there she took a taxi to Jerusalem and made her way to the Shuk. When the terrorist realized that everyone was being checked at the entrances to the market, she turned around and walked towards the nearby bus stop, opposite Hava Bakery. There, she waited a short while, until a bus arrived. When the driver opened the door, and the passengers began getting on and off the bus, she blew herself up – killing 6 people, and injuring a total of 105 (including Weiss).

A number of days prior to the attack Taqataqah was videotaped dressed in black and holding a Koran.

In the introductory post for her blog (called, My Shrapnel) – which she launched shortly after the attack – Weiss speaks of the powerlessness she felt. She said:

“I [could] have died and never known it. There would have been no goodbyes, no final thoughts of my loved ones, nothing. Everything that was in my mind, all of my loves and hates and hopes and dreams, everything that makes up who is Me, would have been instantly and completely wiped out.

“But this is too terrifying and you cannot accept it. You want to believe that, when this happens to you, you will be on notice. You will be able to fight for your life. If you see the terrorist, you can dodge. If you feel the heat of the explosion you can turn away.”

“If you feel the shrapnel entering me, you can declare to yourself: “I will not die” and force the breath in and out of your body. Knowledge is power.”

“How can you possibly accept a vision of yourself as without power, as powerless? How can you accept a picture of yourself knowing nothing, and having absolutely no option or opportunity to fight? How can you just die, without even realizing that anything hit you. One moment you exist. The next you do not. This shakes you to the soul.”

The two hours I spent with Gila recently, on an organized bike tour near Mesilat Zion – 7 years after the attack – through often hilly and challenging terrain that afternoon seemed to suggest that she has largely recovered from her injuries and that the reconstructive facial surgeries were very successful.

What most struck me when reading Gila’s blog posts following the attack was that the thing which seemed to shock her the most, the element of the assault that she simply couldn’t accept, was her complete powerlessness in the face of an enemy who strikes at Israeli civilians, arbitrarily, wherever the ”opportunity” presents itself, and without warning – without even a second to fight back and resist the attacker.

From 2000 until the end of 2004 (the period known as the 2nd Intifada) there were over a thousand innocent Israeli men, women, and children killed in such attacks and more than 7000 wounded – many of whom suffered catastrophic injuries (such as severe burns, amputated limbs, paralysis, etc.) that they are forced to deal with for the rest of their lives – a constant reminder of the brutal attack which changed them forever, and one which, like Weiss, they were powerless to resist.

Gila Weiss