Who are the extremists? Jews praying at their holiest site, or Muslims objecting to peaceful Jewish prayer?

The following passage about violence in Jerusalem and recent tensions surrounding the Temple Mount, in an article by John Reed in the Financial Times (Arab-Israel tensions: Jerusalem tales, Dec. 16th), is quite typical of the disinformation about Jerusalem that passes for serious news within much of the British media. 

Jewish settlers, who get political and financial support from the Israeli state, believe they are reclaiming property inscribed as theirs in history and scripture. Silwan’s overwhelmingly Arab residents see the arrival of the settlers as a form of forceful colonisation, a view shared by Israelis who oppose the settlements. The influx has inflamed emotions among Palestinians already on the defensive from some Israeli rightwingers’ demands for the right to pray at al-Aqsa, Islam’s third-holiest site, and a place reserved for Muslim worship since Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the six-day war.

“We are not against Jews,” says Umm Mohammad, voicing the belief that the three monotheistic faiths’ adherents can live in peace. But she says “al-Aqsa is a sacred place — it’s where the Prophet Mohammed went up to heaven.

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Guardian/AP omits ‘minor’ detail in story: An alleged Palestinian plot to kill Obama

The Guardian tradition of tendentious, misleading editing in stories involving Israelis and Palestinians is again revealed in a comparison between a Dec. 9th Associated Press (AP) story on an American Christian indicted in Israel on charges of trying to blow up Muslim holy sites, and the Guardian version of that same story. 

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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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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 false claim that Western Wall is Judaism’s holiest site

An Oct. 23, 2013 story in The Telegraph by Dina Rickman titled ‘Meet the Women of the Wall: Israel’s answer to Pussy Riot included the claim that the Western Wall in Jerusalem is the holiest site in Judaism. 

Later that day, we contacted Telegraph editors and alerted them to the mistake.

We demonstrated that the Temple Mount (where the First and Second Temples stood) is in fact the holiest site in Judaism, while the Western Wall (The Kotel) is merely the holiest site where Jews are currently permitted to pray.  We forwarded them information relating to other news sites which corrected their original false claims about the Western Wall (many of which were prompted by communications with CAMERA), as well as a 2008 BBC correction to their false claim.

Telegraph editors responded positively to our complaint, informing us that they had corrected the piece accordingly, noting that the Western Wall is merely “the holiest site in the Jewish world where Jews are permitted to pray”.

Unfortunately, The Telegraph published an article just yesterday with another false claim about the the Western Wall.

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Economist refers to Jews wanting to pray at the Temple Mount as “militants”

In a great example of the media’s use of language to blur moral differences within the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, The Economist expanded the common understanding of the word “militant” – a word fancied by those fearing “terrorist” is too judgmental a term for those committing violence for political ends – to include Jews wanting to peacefully pray at Judaism’s holiest site.

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From left to right per The Economist: Palestinian militants, and Jewish militants

An article published on Nov. 17th titled ‘The trouble at the Mountincluded the following passage:

THE Temple Mount in Jerusalem is one of the world’s most explosive bits of real-estate. It has started to rumble again in recent weeks, with demands by Jewish militants to extend prayer rights, riots by Palestinians and the killing of several Israelis in knife or car-ramming attacks.

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Former UK minister Warsi tweets ‘morally indefensible’ equivalence in Jerusalem terror attack (Update)

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi was Minister of State for Faith and Communities, until her resignation after disagreeing with David Cameron’s position on the war in Gaza, a policy she described as “morally indefensible” in its support for Israel.  

The row over her resignation was widely (and quite sympathetically) covered by the Guardian. 

Here’s Warsi’s Tweet this morning in response to today’s terror attack, in which Palestinian terrorists massacred Jewish worshippers at a synagogue in Jerusalem.

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CiF Watch suggestions for Palestinians who want to ‘ease tensions’ in Jerusalem

Though Benjamin Netanyahu, John Kerry and Jordan’s King Abdullah met recently to address the “recent surge of violence in Jerusalem”, the herds of independent minds in the UK media have essentially settled on a narrative to explain the “tension” in the holy city: that demands by some Jews for prayer rights at the Temple Mount incite Palestinians, thus increasing tension and violence. 

Whilst even beyond the UK media, most opinion leaders have narrowly focused on what Israeli leaders can do to calm the situation in Jerusalem and prevent an escalation, we here at CiF Watch tend to fancy the progressive notion that Palestinians possess moral agency, and therefore have a role to play in any plan to address rising tensions. 

So, inspired by a recent post at a site known for its decidedly unconventional take on the news, here’s our list of ways Palestinians can “ease the tension” in Jerusalem.

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SOAS London event dispells ‘simplistic’ view that Hizbullah is a terror group

Cross posted from London-based blogger Richard Millett 

To say that my question “Is this book pro-Hizbollah?” wasn’t well received on Tuesday night at SOAS is an understatement.

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I was at the book launch of The Hizbullah Phenomenon: Politics and Communication written by Lina Khatib, Dina Matar and Atef Alshaer.

After I had asked my question Dina Matar said “I knew you were going to ask that” and Lina Khatib waved the book at me and said “Why don’t you read it?”

The book explains how Hizbullah has been successful in staying relevant since its 1982 inception by adapting itself to changing situations and communicating these adaptations through various means such as poetry and social media.

Hizbullah are poets? Who knew.

One can imagine: “To kill a Jew, or not to kill a Jew. That is the question.”

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CiF Watch prompts Indy correction to claim about Muslim prayer at the Mount

In addition to the bizarre suggestion by Ben Lynfield at The Independent that recent violence in Jerusalem can be attributed to Israeli restrictions on Muslim “access to al-Aqsa Mosque”, his Nov. 6th report included the following historical error concerning the history of Muslim prayer at the Temple Mount Compound.
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Lynfield omits the Crusader period (1099 to 1187) in which Christian prayer was of course permitted. (In the 13th century, there were several years of additional Crusader control, before Muslim rule was re-established in 1244.)

After contacting Indy editors, they revised the passage to note the period when Christians ruled the holy city.

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We commend Indy editors on the prompt correction.

 

UK media lie begins: Jewish prayer rights activists cause Palestinian terrorism

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Chaya Zissel Braun (3 months), killed by a Palestinian terrorist in Jerusalem on Oct. 22

The question of whether the recent increase in Palestinian terror attacks – which has included two lethal stabbings, and the murder of three Israelis by Palestinians who intentionally ran their vehicles into crowds of pedestrians in Jerusalem – will one day be categorized as the start of a new intifada is debatable.  

However, we can already see how the UK media will likely be framing the story if indeed the uptick in deadly attacks continue and increase: that demands by some Jews to be able to pray at the Temple Mount (the holiest site in Judaism) is responsible for the violence. 

A Nov. 6th article by the Guardian’s Peter Beaumont, following the two vehicular terror attacks, opined that “Demands for greater access have been blamed by Israelis and Palestinians for a recent increase in violent confrontations in Jerusalem”.

The Economist suggested – in an article in their print edition on Nov. 8th titled Temple Madness – that “dangerous campaign for Jewish prayer rights” is a form of “Jewish agitation” which is driving Palestinians to violence.

And, Ben Lynfield of The Independent – in a Nov. 10th report titled “Fears of new intifada: Israel is hit by wave of Palestinian violence linked to concerns over al-Aqsa mosque – was even more brazen in arguing that the recent deadly attacks on Israelis “was triggered largely by a Palestinian perception of an Israeli threat to al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, Islam’s third holiest shrine.”

There is, of course, no threat to the al-Aqsa Mosque, and Israel’s prime minister has been adamant about the need to preserve the status quo at the holy site – where Jews are allowed to visit the site, but not to pray.

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Guardian falsely claims right-wing Jews want to pray ‘inside al-Aqsa Mosque’

Whilst there is indeed a movement to allow Jews to pray at the Temple Mount (the holiest site in Judaism), there is no movement by religious Jews to pray inside the al-Aqsa Mosque, a mosque located on the Temple Mount compound.

Yet, a Guardian video (which accompanied a Nov. 5th article by Peter Beaumont) on the recent terror attack in Jerusalem, as well as ongoing Palestinian violence on the Temple Mount, included the following claim about the ’cause’ of the violence at the Mount, at the 1:23 mark into the video:

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