Guardian op-ed mocks “claims” of Hamas use of human shields

 The strap line of a recent Guardian op-ed by  (a blogger at Lenin’s tomb) says it all.

oped

Here’s the entire post:

They hid at the El-Wafa hospital.

They hid at the Al-Aqsa hospital.

They hid at the beach, where children played football.

They hid at the yard of 75-year-old Muhammad Hamad.

They hid among the residential quarters of Shujaya.

They hid in the neighbourhoods of Zaytoun and Toffah.

They hid in Rafah and Khan Younis.

They hid in the home of the Qassan family.

They hid in the home of the poet, Othman Hussein.

They hid in the village of Khuzaa.

They hid in the thousands of houses damaged or destroyed.

They hid in 84 schools and 23 medical facilities.

They hid in a cafe, where Gazans were watching the World Cup.

They hid in the ambulances trying to retrieve the injured.

They hid themselves in 24 corpses, buried under rubble.

They hid themselves in a young woman in pink household slippers, sprawled on the pavement, taken down while fleeing.

They hid themselves in two brothers, eight and four, lying in the intensive burn care unit in Al-Shifa.

They hid themselves in the little boy whose parts were carried away by his father in a plastic shopping bag.

They hid themselves in the “incomparable chaos of bodies” arriving at Gaza hospitals.

They hid themselves in an elderly woman, lying in a pool of blood on a stone floor.

Hamas, they tell us, is cowardly and cynical.

To Seymour, it seems that these ‘claims’ are all nothing but dishonest Israeli hasbara.

Evidently, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri was lying when he said the following:

Similarly, the following video of Grad rocket launchers discovered next to a school in Beit Hanoun, Gaza is evidently staged.

Video evidence of Hamas fighters firing from within civilian homes in Gaza is also nothing but propaganda.

And, what of this clip of terrorists in Gaza using an ambulance to escape? Again, evidently nothing but savvy Israeli PR.

 

The Washington Post’s dispatch from the Gaza front included a first hand account of rockets being moved into a mosque during Thursday’s five-hour humanitarian ceasefire, and accounts of Hamas leaders using Shifa Hospital in Gaza City as a de facto headquarters, were also seemingly both lies.

First hand accounts of underground terror headquarters, including storage areas for rockets, bombs, and other weapons built under the densely populated civilian neighborhood of Shejaiyya, are also untrue.

Further, declassified aerial photos showing Hamas rocket launchers under mosques and at hospitals in Gaza were also fabrications.

You see, for Seymour, the ‘claim’ that Hamas is “cowardly and cynical”, and routinely uses human shields – as part of their strategy of using the deaths of Palestinians to garner international sympathy – is all Zionist propaganda. 

Don’t believe your eyes.

Believe the Guardian.

UK media silent about Pope’s meeting with Mufti who claimed that Muslims’ destiny is to kill Jews

A report at the Independent by Ben Lynfield focuses on Palestinian activists who are “scathing about the Pope’s plans to make the first visit by a pontiff to the tomb of Theodor Herzl”, the founder of Zionism – the political movement, Lynfield explains, “that established Israel and displaced the Palestinians.”

Lynfield continues:

Omar Barghouti, a Ramallah-based member of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, termed the planned visit to the grave “nauseating”.

“Laying a wreath on the grave of the founder of Zionism, a patently racist ideology that has served to enable and justify the ethnic cleansing of most of the indigenous people of Palestine, is a nauseating, offensive act of complicity that Palestinian civil society cannot but condemn,” Mr Barghouti wrote in an emailed statement. He added that the gesture would “serve to whitewash Israel’s occupation and apartheid”.

Mustafa Barghouti, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s central council, also questioned the Pope’s choice. He said that if the Pope is to visit Herzl’s tomb, he should make a visit to the Yasser Arafat mausoleum in Ramallah for “balance”

Of course, neither Lynfield nor any of his colleagues within the UK media have yet noted that, though the Pope will not be visiting the grave of the ‘father of modern terrorism‘, he will be meeting with the Grand Mufti Sheikh Muhammad Hussein. The Grand Mufti is the most senior religious figure in the Palestinian Authority (the Palestinian equivalent of the Israeli Chief Rabbi), and has an appalling record of extreme antisemitic hate speech and support for suicide bombings.

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reported the following:

What Pope Francis may not be aware of is that the Mufti has an ongoing record of vicious Antisemitic hate speech, which has been condemned internationally. In 2012, the Mufti preached that it is Muslim destiny to kill the Jews. On a different occasion, in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, he taught that Jews were “enemies of Allah,” and in another speech he said that the souls of suicide bombers “tell us to follow in their path.”

PMW recently cited a speech, broadcast on PA television in January 2012, from a Fatah celebration in East Jerusalem, where the Mufti endorsed the murder of Jews.

Here’s the transcript:

Moderator at Fatah ceremony: “Our war with the descendants of the apes and pigs (i.e., Jews) is a war of religion and faith.

Long Live Fatah! [I invite you,] our honorable Sheikh.”  

Palestinian Authority Mufti Muhammad Hussein: 
“47 years ago the [Fatah] revolution started. Which revolution? The modern revolution
of the Palestinian people’s history.
In fact, Palestine in its entirety is a revolution,
since [Caliph] Umar came [to conquer Jerusalem, 637 CE],
and continuing today, and until the End of Days.
The reliableHadith (tradition attributed to Muhammad),
in the two reliable collections, Bukhari and Muslim, says:
‘The Hour [of Resurrection] will not come until you fight the Jews. 
The Jew will hide behind stones or trees. 
Then the stones or trees will call: 
“Oh Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.” 
Except the Gharqad tree [which will keep silent].’ 
Therefore, it is no wonder that you see Gharqad [trees] 
surrounding the [Israeli] settlements and colonies.
[Gharqad trees] surrounding, surrounding and surrounding.
That’s the Palestine we are talking about,
with the beginning of the Jihad and the continuation of the Jihad,
with the struggle and the procession of the Martyrs.”

[PA TV (Fatah), Jan. 9, 2012] 

As PMW explained, not only didn’t the Grand Mufti retract or condemn these statements by the moderator, but instead cited the Hadith to buttress the narrative that Palestinians are indeed destined to murder the Jews. 

Though the UK media often characterize mainstream Israeli politicians who are on the right side of the political spectrum as “ultra-nationalist”, “far-right”, or even “extreme”, it seems certain that journalists working for the Independent, Guardian, Economist, Telegraph, or other newspapers covering Pope Francis’s visit to Israel, will fail to use similar pejoratives when reporting on his meeting with the PA Mufti who incites Palestinians to kill Jews.

As was demonstrated recently by a Guardian op-ed’s shameful justification for unparalleled antisemitism within Palestinian society, such egregious double-standards in moral accountability (the bigotry of low expectations) continue to skew media’s coverage of the region, and deny news consumers the opportunity to fairly assess those dynamics which truly represent the ‘root cause’ of the conflict. 

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Is the Economist concerned that Jews may be judaizing the Jewish state?

To provide some sense of how Jewish holy sites that are currently secured by Israel would likely fare under Palestinian rule, you could recall the period between 1949 and 1967, when Jews were ethnically cleansed from ‘east’ Jerusalem by the Jordanians and prevented from even visiting their holy places.  The Jewish Quarter of the Old City was all but destroyed, dozens of synagogues were demolished and some Jewish religious sites were turned into animal stalls. The Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives was ransacked; graves were desecrated; thousands of tombstones were smashed and used as building material or even toilets. The Western Wall became a slum.

Or, you could fast forward to a more recent time, and see how Joseph’s tomb – the resting spot of the patriarch Joseph and his two sons, Ephraim and Menashe – was razed soon after Nablus was transferred to Palestinian Authority control in 2000. Though renovations to the site were completed by 2009, vandalism by Palestinians continues, and as recently as two months ago Jewish pilgrims visiting the building discovered vandalism and attempted arson.

In contrast, in 1967, when Israel unified Jerusalem and took control of the holy sites in the Old City, Israel passed the Protection of Holy Places Law, granting legal protections the holy sites and making it a crime to desecrate or impede freedom of access to them. Though the Al Aqsa Mosque (part of the Temple Mount complex) is administered by Jordan’s Islamic Waqf, Israel retains sovereignty and secures the area.  As such, thousands of Muslims (including Palestinian Arabs) are granted entry to the Mosque each day.  (In contrast, in 2011, only 8,247 Jews visited the Temple Mount the entire year.)

Additionally, the Israeli government supports religious services for communities of all faiths – which includes spending millions of Shekels each year for the operating costs of more than 100 mosques, the salaries of Muslim religious leaders and the upkeep of holy sites for all religions.

As Freedom House reported, while Israel’s founding documents define it as a “Jewish and democratic state,” freedom of religion for all faiths is respected.

Such facts about Israel’s continuing commitment to safeguarding the rights of religious minorities would not come as a surprise to those of us who live here, or those journalists interested in dispassionately examining contrasting religious freedom in the region.  However, as we’ve demonstrated continually, ‘dispassionate’ and ‘objective’ are not words typically associated with British reports from Israel or the Palestinian territories – as a story in The Economist (and accompanying video) clearly demonstrates.  

Though the article in the print magazine has some balance, much of the video report by their Middle East correspondent Nicolas Pelham has little relation to the reality on the ground in the Holy Land.

As you can see in the video, Pelham imputes international significance to the vandalism of King David’s Tomb, the burial-place of biblical King David located at Mt. Zion at the ground floor of a Byzantine church.  Further, he not only suggests (at 1:10 of the video) that the site has only NOW become a Jewish religious shrine, but contextualizes the destruction of some Ottoman ceramic tiles in the interior of the tomb’s main room as part of a broader pattern of Israeli negligence of ‘Muslim’ holy sites.  

In fact (as you can see at 1:23 of the video), he also tells of the threat posed to the Temple Mount by Jewish extremists – who, we are told, occasionally incite Muslims by flying the Israeli flag – while never mentioning the frequent rioting by Palestinian extremists, or violence coordinated by Hamas, Fatah and Israel’s Islamist Movement.  And, no mention is made by the Economist journalist of Palestinian political and religious leaders‘ campaign to deny the Jewish connection to Jerusalem, and routine libels that Israel is attempting to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Finally (at about 4:00 of the video) Pelham, when asked how the threat to Muslim holy places may affect the overall peace process, explains that the big fear of Palestinians (and ‘Muslims around the world‘) is that the Israeli government’s demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as a “Jewish state” will “erode what has been a historically Muslim country..”.

Of course, Jerusalem is the birthplace of Judaism, and Jews are an indigenous people to the land of Israel.

As one commentator explained on Facebook in response to Pelham, Roman conquests in the first century of the common era may have disintegrated Jewish political and military power, but there was – during Byzantine, Persian, Muslim, Crusader, Mameluke, Ottoman and British rule until 1948 – a constant and uninterrupted Jewish presence in the land.  Further, Jews represented a plurality of Jerusalem’s population by the mid-19th century.

The League of Nations, in 1922, determined in a decision of international law that “recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country”.  

History is on the side of the Jewish connection to Israel, yet you’d almost be forgiven for concluding that Pelham is deeply troubled by the possibility that Israel is surreptitiously Judaizing the Jewish state. 

A few seconds later in the video, when asked about the future of Israel, Pelham expressed doubts over the future of Israel’s Muslims, who, he claims, “have a second class status“.

This is simply a lie – one which evokes the oft-repeated Apartheid smear.  Though there are economic and educational disparities between Jews and Muslim in Israel (as there such disparities between minority and majority groups in many democracies), Muslims are represented in all spheres of Israeli public life, and are afforded equal rights under the law. Indeed, they enjoy political rights which far exceed those in any Arab country in the region.  (According to a recent poll published by the Israel Democracy Institute, most Arab Israelis are patriotic and proud to be called Israeli.)

As BICOM so accurately stated, specifically relating to the idea of Israel as a ‘Jewish State':

Being a ‘Jewish state’ means being a state in which Jewish traditions, language and customs are given full expression. Thus, Jewish holidays are observed by the organs of the  state, Hebrew is the national language, traditional Jewish law is integrated into jurisprudence, and so on. There is nothing discriminatory in this, as long as minority rights to express their traditions, language and customs are protected too. And they are. For example, Israel’s civil service allows non-Jewish civil servants to celebrate their own religious holidays without having those days docked off their annual leave. (The same cannot be said to apply to Jews in Britain.)

To sum up:

  • Muslim holy sites in Israel are NOT in danger.
  • Israel is not a “historically Muslim country”.
  • Arab Israelis don’t have “second class status”.

Though The Economist of course fancies itself an erudite media institution, Nicolas Pelham’s report again shows us that what often passes for ‘sophisticated’ analysis of the Middle East conflict in the UK media is merely just the mindless parroting of agitprop, half-truths and lies more befitting the ‘Palestinian hasbara’ blogosphere

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How Jewish prayer represents “an extreme provocation to Muslims worldwide”

UK media coverage of “tensions” at the Temple Mount at times devolves into the absurd, mostly due to the way in which ‘professional’ journalists accept and normalize the logic of Islamist intolerance towards Jews and other religious groups.  

A report by Ben Lynfield at The Independent (‘Mounting tension: Israel’s Knesset debates proposal to enforce its sovereignty at Al-Aqsa Mosque – a move seen as ‘an extreme provocation to Muslims worldwide’, Feb. 26) represents a classic example of this strange inversion in which those advocating for freedom of worship for all groups are labeled as provocateurs, while those seeking to curtail that religious freedom are cast as victims.

Lynfield begins:

The Arab-Israeli conflict took on an increasingly religious hue when the Jordanian parliament voted unanimously to expel Israel’s ambassador in Amman after Israeli legislators held an unprecedented debate on Tuesday evening over a proposal to enforce Israeli sovereignty at one of Jerusalem’s holiest sites, currently administered by Jordan, and to allow Jewish prayer there.

The Indy reporter later acknowledges that the legislation has no chance of becoming law – due to opposition from, among others, Binyamin Netanyahu – but still contextualizes the debate as feeding the “perception of an Israeli threat to Al-Aqsa Mosque” which could “ratchet up tensions in the wider Arab and Muslim worlds.”

Lynfield then gives some background about the Temple Mount:

Al-Aqsa is situated in an area revered as Judaism’s holiest site for housing the temples destroyed in 586BC and AD70 and is in the locale where religious Jews pray a third temple will be built. The Mount, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, has been an exclusively Muslim prayer site for the last 1,300 years, with the exception of the crusader incursions to the Holy Land.

Indeed, this passage in indicative of the convoluted logic often at play in the debate: Because the site has been an exclusively Muslim prayer site for over a thousand years, any attempt to abrogate such an exclusionary practice is itself a dangerous provocation.

Later, Lynfield deceptively weaves the following into the story.

On Tuesday morning, violence erupted at the Mount in advance of the debate. The police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that about 100 Palestinians, most of them masked, began throwing stones and fireworks at police, lightly wounding two officers. Police then entered the mount to ”disperse the rioters“, he said.

The suggestion here is as clear as it is erroneous: that Palestinians were rioting at the site due to a debate in the Knesset over a bill which will never become law.  However, as anyone who routinely reads news stories on such violence at the Temple Mount would know, such outbreaks occur, not due to any provocations by Israel – which arduously defends the rights of all faiths in the holy city – but by Palestinian extremists intent on provoking a conflict.  

As Israeli Police Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld continually tells journalists genuinely interested in understanding the cause of the violence, riots are usually coordinated by elements within Fatah and Hamas – as well as by local groups, such as Israel’s Islamist Movement.  (The northern branch of the Islamist Movement is led by a radical preacher fancied by the Guardian named Raed Salah.)

While the overwhelming majority of Israeli politicians are, as the Indy article suggests, not going to take any measures which will have the effect of inflaming the political situation, the surreal manner in which the issue is framed is best illustrated by a quote in the article by Hanan Ashrawi:

Hanan Ashrawi, the PLO spokeswoman, termed the holding of the Knesset debate an “extreme provocation to Muslims worldwide. Using religion as a pretext to impose sovereignty on historical places of worship threatens to plunge the entire region into great conflict and instability. It is reminiscent of the same regressive ideology that brought the crusades to Palestine in the Middle Ages’.’ 

So, let’s get this straight:

  1. Some Jews are asking for the right to quietly pray at the site in Jerusalem holiest to their faith.
  2. Millions of Muslims worldwide will, it is alleged, be provoked at the mere possibility that a faith other their own will have that right which they want exclusively for themselves.
  3. And, yet, it’s the Jews in this scenario who are portrayed as the “regressive” political force?

‘Orwellian’ doesn’t begin to fairly characterize the mental gymnastics employed by journalists in order to accept such bizarre logic.  

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CiF Watch prompts Telegraph correction over false Western Wall claim

We’re not normally in the business of comparing the quality and editorial judgment of British papers, but the speed in which The Telegraph corrected a false claim regarding the Western Wall in Jerusalem is worth noting.

telegraphAn Oct. 23 story in The Telegraph by Dina Rickman titled ‘Meet the Women of the Wall: Israel’s answer to Pussy Riot‘ included the following passage:

The Western Wall might be the holiest site in the Jewish world, but not all Jews can worship there as they wish…

We failed to take a snapshot, but here is the original text via a Google search:

kotelLate this morning, we contacted Telegraph editors and alerted them to the mistake.  

We demonstrated that the Temple Mount (where the Second Temple 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 claims that the Western Wall was the holiest site (many of which were prompted by CAMERA), as well as a 2008 BBC correction to their false claim.

Less than an hour ago, Telegraph editors responded to our complaint, informing us that they agreed with our concerns and had corrected the piece accordingly.  It now reads as follows:

The Western Wall might be the holiest site in the Jewish world where Jews are permitted to pray, but not all Jews can worship there as they wish…

Here it is on Google:

kotel 2This quick revision stands in stark contrast to the stonewalling and obfuscations we encountered when filing a similar complaint to the Guardian over Harriet Sherwood’s false claim regarding the Western Wall back in June.

Here’s Sherwood’s erroneous claim, which still hasn’t been amended.

During his three days in the Holy Land, he is scheduled to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, believed to be the site of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection; the Western Wall, the most revered site in Judaism…

Telegraph editors should be commended for their prompt revision – quick, decisive editorial judgment (based on historically undeniable facts) which should certainly be emulated by other British dailies. 

CiF Watch prompts Guardian correction #2: Evidently, Jewish ‘extremists’ didn’t enter the mosque

We recently commented on two false and remarkably propagandistic photo captions at the Guardian in a Sept. 21 story titled ‘Life in Palestine 20 years on from the Oslo accord – in pictures, both of which have now been corrected.  

Whilst we already posted about one of the corrections (a caption, before the correction, which included the comical claim that Jews had “stormed” the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem on Yom Kippur!), there was an additional caption we complained about which also prompted a correction.

Here is the photo:

Here is the original caption:

As we noted in our original post, regardless of what the Palestinians in Betunia thought they were protesting, the claim that “Jewish extremists” had entered the al-Aqsa mosque was untrue.  Whilst non-Muslims are permitted to walk around the mosque compound (The Temple Mount, which is the holiest place in Judaism), all non-Muslims (including Jews) are forbidden from entering inside the mosque. Additionally, we asked, even if Jews had somehow managed to enter the mosque itself, how would anyone be able to determine if they were “extremists”?

The Guardian was unable to defend the original caption and revised it as follows:

new

Whilst we’re glad they acknowledged that their original claim (that “Jewish extremists” entered the mosque) was untrue and that Jews had in fact only entered the area around the mosque (as they are permitted to do every day except Friday), note that the word “extremists” was curiously changed to “settlers”.

We asked in our original post how the photographer (and Guardian editors) could possibly have determined if Jewish visitors to the site were political “extremists”, and their revision begs a similar question: Absent interviews with each visitor, how precisely can the Guardian determine if the Israelis touring the holy sites were in fact “settlers”?

It’s almost as if Israelis who live in the “West Bank” have some sort of distinct physical marking on their body which is absent from those who live within the state’s pre-1967 boundaries – an idea which may be a bit of a stretch, but no less fantastical than the Guardian tale (implicit in their original captions) of masses of crazed, extremist Jews storming the al-Aqsa mosque!   

 

CiF Watch prompts Guardian correction: Evidently, Jews didn’t ‘storm the mosque’

On Sept. 22 we posted about a false and incredibly propagandistic photo caption at the Guardian in a Sept. 21 story titled Life in Palestine 20 years on from the Oslo accord – in pictures‘. Here’s the photo in question:

Here’s the original caption:

We contacted Guardian editors, pointing out that – in addition to their comical, extremist-inspired narrative that Jews had ‘stormed the mosque’ – Jews weren’t even at the mosque compound on the day in question because Yom Kippur was on Friday, the day every week the site is closed to non-Muslims. Additionally, we demonstrated that the Palestinians seen in the photo (in Gaza City) were actually protesting security restrictions imposed at the mosque compound which were unrelated to Yom Kippur.

They agreed to revise the text, and here’s how it now appears:

new

We’re thankful that Guardian editors belatedly (if only implicitly) acknowledged the fantastical nature of the claim that Jews were ‘storming the mosque’ “for Yom Kippur.” 

Guardian caption falsely claims “Jewish extremists” entered al-Aqsa mosque

Yesterday we posted about a Guardian story titled ‘‘Life in Palestine 20 years on from the Oslo accord – in pictures‘, Sept. 21, which included one photo of a protest in Gaza City with a caption claiming that the Palestinians were demonstrating in response to “Jewish settlers” who had recently “stormed” the al-Aqsa mosque.  This bizarre charge, as we clearly demonstrated, was a lie.

Additionally, a second photo in the same Sept. 21 Guardian set included a caption which is similarly untrue. 

Here’s the photo:

A Palestinian protester aims a slingshot towards Israeli soldiers

Here’s the caption:

caption

However, regardless of what the Palestinians in Betunia thought they were protesting, the claim that “Jewish extremists” entered the al-Aqsa mosque is untrue.  

For beginners, though non-Muslims are permitted to walk around the mosque compound (The Temple Mount, which is the holiest place in Judaism), all non-Muslims (including “Jewish extremists”) are forbidden from entering inside the mosque. (I confirmed that this is the policy by calling the Islamic Waqf, which is responsible for the Temple Mount area, and asking if I, as a non-Muslim could enter. I was told that I can walk around the mosque, but not inside. A professional Israeli tour guide I spoke to also confirmed that this is the policy.) Additionally, even if Jews had somehow entered the mosque, how would anyone be able to determine if they were “extremists”? 

As with the previous photo caption, the Guardian again allowed pure Palestinian propaganda regarding the al-Aqsa mosque – consistent with a larger anti-Zionist narrative advanced by extremists alleging that the mosque is threatened by Jews – to pass as straight news. Whilst the Guardian likely isn’t responsible for the photo itself (as such images are typically taken by photojournalists at outside agencies), their editors are indeed responsible for editing the caption for accuracy.  In the last two examples we’ve highlighted, Guardian editors failed miserably at this task. 

h/t Avi

Guardian photo caption claims Jewish settlers “stormed” al-Aqsa mosque

On Sept. 21 the Guardian published ‘Life in Palestine 20 years on from the Oslo accord – in pictures‘, which included the following photo:

Anger as Israel Restricts Access to Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday

Here’s the caption:

caption

According to the Guardian, Jews ‘stormed the mosque’, an incendiary and completely fantastical claim typically only advanced by the Palestinian Authority (and their extremist supporters) to characterize Jews who simply visit the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism.  Indeed, the site of Friends of Al-Aqsa (a pro-Hamas UK organization which advocates Israel’s destruction) had an almost identical claim on the same day.

Regarding the specific Guardian photo in question, it actually depicts (per Getty Images) Palestinians in Gaza City protesting restrictions imposed on visitors to the mosque that day due to previous riots, as well as recent calls by Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade to confront the ongoing “invasion of herds of settlers to the compound“.  Al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades is a terror group historically tied to Abbas’ Fatah party.

Further, the Temple Mount compound is closed to non-Muslim visitors on Fridays and Saturdays.  As Yom Kippur fell on Friday night, Sept. 13, at sundown, and ended at sundown on Saturday, “Jewish settlers” weren’t present at the compound, and obviously couldn’t have “stormed” the mosque. 

The Guardian not only published a photo caption which was simply a lie, but, even more shamefully, actually used language that mirrored the propaganda of Palestinian terror groups whose goal it is, as always, to stoke riots and ‘spark’ violence. 

Guardian Jerusalem Syndrome postscript: Jewish ‘provocations’ at the mosque

On Sept. 15th we posted in response to a ‘Comment is Free’ column by Giles Fraser which lent support to the often repeated lie that Israeli policy threatens to ignite tensions at the Temple Mount (the holiest site in Judaism). In An Israeli claim to Temple Mount Would Trigger Unimaginable Violence‘, Fraser played up the fringe view that the Jewish Temple should be rebuilt (at the site where the Al Aqsa Mosque now stands) and suggested that Jews who even visit such holy sites – prohibited for Jews when controlled by the Jordanians – was an act of extremism and an example of “the settler mentality”. 

Jews at Temple Mount, April 2013

Jews at the Temple Mount

Typical for Guardian journalists, Fraser completely ignored the Palestinians’ long campaign of incitement concerning the Temple Mount, and legitimized those who warn of a broader Israeli scheme to “Judaize” the city which represents the epicenter of the Jewish faith. 

Now, just this morning, it was reported that Muslim worshippers at the Temple Mount rioted and threw stones at Israeli police officers from inside the Mosque, injuring two.  The altercation reportedly broke out as the result of calls by the Islamist Movement (partly led by the Guardian’s favorite martyr Raed Salah) to create disturbances at the Mount. Salah, who has a history of antisemitic incitement which includes preaching to his followers that Jews use the blood of non-Jews to bake their “sabbath bread”, was recently arrested for incitement after he warned that Israel was going to torch the Al-Aqsa Mosque.  Salah’s latest attempt to provoke violence at the Mount was not reported by the Guardian.

(FILES)--Sheikh Raed Salah, the firebran

Raed Salah at the Temple Mount

As we’ve argued continually, noting the stories and incidents that the Guardian ignores or downplays is as important, in understanding their institutional bias, as it is to critically examine the stories they do report.

The paper’s coverage regarding the Temple Mount (and other holy sites) would lead the casual observer to not have the slightest clue about the steady stream of incitement spewing from Palestinian religious leaders, and believe that it is Jews – by merely demanding that their religious freedoms should not be abridged – who are the ones creating dangerous ‘provocations’.

Like so much of what passes for analysis at “the world’s leading liberal voice“, the impression created by their commentators and reporters about the root cause of tensions in the Holy Land represents the complete antithesis of reality.

Harriet Sherwood misleads on religious significance of the Western Wall

Harriet Sherwood’s June 25 report on the upcoming visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, devoted some text to outlining his itinerary while in the Holy Land, and included this passage: 

During his three days in the Holy Land, he is scheduled to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, believed to be the site of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection; the Western Wall, the most revered site in Judaism; and the Haram al-Sharif, the site of the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa mosque and the third-holiest place in Islam. All three sites are inside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City.

However, Sherwood gets the significance of the Western Wall and Haram al-Sharif wrong – an error which she has made previously and which has been made (and at times corrected) by other media outlets as well.

Haram al-Sharif is known in Judaism as ‘The Temple Mount’ (Har Habayit), and is identified in Jewish (and Islamic) tradition as the area of Mount Moriah where Abraham offered his son in sacrifice.  It is where the Second Temple stood between roughly 515 BCE until 70 CE and – while it is true, per Sherwood, that it is the third holiest place in Islam – it is recognized as the holiest site in Judaism. While the Western Wall is the holiest site where Jews are permitted to regularly pray, it derives its holiness from its proximity to the Temple site.

Western Wall (Kotel) looking towards Temple Mount (Har Habayit)

Western Wall (Kotel) looking towards Temple Mount (Har Habayit)

img420586

Jews touring the Temple Mount (Har Habayit)

Though we have credited Sherwood recently on her progress towards more fair and accurate coverage of the region, this report on the Archbishop’s upcoming visit to Jerusalem includes clearly misleading information about the significance of these Jewish and Muslim holy sites which is simply not open to interpretation.  

(We recommend you consider reading a great CAMERA backgrounder on the issues surrounding the Temple Mount, here.)

Misleading Guardian caption below photo of Israeli injured by Palestinian rioters

On Friday, March 8, hundreds of Palestinians emerged from prayers at the al-Aqsa Mosque to throw rocks and petrol bombs at Israeli security personnel stationed near the entrance of the compound.

Eleven policemen were injured during the violence, including one Israeli who was injured by a molotov cocktail thrown at officers by Palestinians, reportedly from inside the mosque. 

Police dispersed the rioters using stun grenades and other non-violent crowd control measures.

The Guardian’s ‘Picture Desk Live’ published the following photo shortly after the Friday riots showing the officer who was set on fire.

Mideast Israel Palestinans

Here’s the Guardian caption:

caption

Note that the Israeli policeman is described as “injured”, with no text indicating that he was injured by a Palestinian who intentionally hurled an incendiary device in his direction. (Other news sites which published photos of the injured Israeli managed to explain that the injury was indeed caused by Palestinians.) 

Another glaring distortion is achieved by the caption’s blurred causation. Readers are informed only that “clashes broke out”, without assigning blame, as if there was any doubt that it was Palestinian ‘worshipers’ who initiated the violence. 

A twenty-eight word caption: so much obfuscation. 

Denis MacEoin’s letter to William Hague concerning Jerusalem

(The following letter was written by Dr. Denis MacEeoin and sent separately to William Hague, Alistair Burt and Simon Fraser at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It concerns the status of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city. MacEoin is editor of Middle East Quarterly and blogs at ‘A Liberal Defence of Israel‘ – A.L.)

Dear Mr Hague:

I write in support of a petition I have recently signed, asking the British Foreign Office to alter its position on what has become an unnecessarily vexed question concerning the capital of Israel. As you know, Israelis are unanimous in regarding Jerusalem as their capital, not Tel Aviv (where the British embassy is currently located), nor Haifa nor Jaffa nor Petah Tikva nor anywhere else in the country. 

It is not hard to understand why the first Israeli parliament chose Jerusalem as its seat, even before it had built an edifice suitable to the needs of the men and women who sat in its chamber.  For many centuries, Jews in the Diaspora had clung to a hope, not only of a return to the Holy Land, but to Jerusalem in particular, the erstwhile home of its holiest Temple and the scene of so many primary events in Jewish and Christian history. This might be dismissed on the grounds that religious belief should not determine a city’s status, but many cities derive their significance from their role as religious centres, from Mecca and Medina (the latter having been the first capital of Islam), to Karbala’ and Mashhad, to Varanasi (Benares) and the Vatican City. This original attachment, intensified by daily prayers while facing Jerusalem and repeated wishes to return there, was later supplanted by the governmental, educational, trading, defensive, legal and bureaucratic concerns of the capital of a secular state.

As a people who have been deeply wronged in the past, Jews have tried to build their own state along lines of equal citizenship, a single legal system, human rights, and the protection of all holy places. But when Jordan occupied East Jerusalem from 1949 to 1967, Muslim holy places were renovated while 58 synagogues were destroyed and 38,000 Jewish graves were demolished. In addition, Jews were not allowed to set foot in their own holy places, notably on the Temple Mount. By contrast, when Israel retook Jerusalem in 1967, the Temple Mount was handed to a Muslim authority on account of two Islamic structures built on top of it, the al-Aqsa mosque and the Qubbat al-Sakhra or Dome of the Rock.

Such depredations and a lack of reciprocity have made Israelis wary of a Muslim takeover of East Jerusalem, where the holiest sites are located: the Temple Mount, the Western Wall (the Kotel), the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Mount of Olives, and the famous Jewish graveyards, still vandalized horribly by Arab criminals.

But the Palestinians have made it their business to turn Jerusalem into a bastion of Islamic holiness, not just because the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock are there, but because they now claim that there has never been any Jewish connection to the city or to the land of Israel. There was, they boast, no Jewish Temple there. All Biblical references to the Temple and to Jerusalem as a city built by King David are summarily and ahistorically dismissed. 

Given that Muslims have demolished the holy places of more than one religion, the Jews are rightly concerned lest Jerusalem fall under Islamic control. In Saudi Arabia for decades now, the government has been engaged in the destruction of Islamic holy places in Mecca and Medina. Lest you think me in the grip of some obscure fantasy, I should explain that the Wahhabi form of Islam, which governs Saudi Arabia, is utterly ruthless in its condemnation of anything that may be worshipped instead of God. They have demolished over 200 historical sites to prevent pilgrims praying at them. In Mali, a similar form of Islam – Salafism – has recently demolished dozens of shrines belonging to the Sufi form of Islam. And in Iran, the government has demolished all the holy places and cemeteries of the persecuted Baha’i religion. Israel, by way of contrast, protects and nourishes the large international headquarters and two holiest shrines of the Baha’is, places now recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Is it surprising that the Israelis, backed by Jews and others like myself round the world, are desperate to maintain the integrity of the city, knowing as they do that Muslim Arab rule would carry a greatly heightened risk to the Old City and its environs? Israel has been generous towards Muslims and their holy places, but they fear that if increased pressure were to come from Saudi Arabia or Iran or, nearer to hand from Hamas, everything Jewish might be eliminated. Palestinians have taken control of the Jewish Tomb of Rachel, the third holiest site for Jews. They have commandeered most of the Ma’arat Ha-Machpelah, the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and made access for Jews to a tiny space very difficult, as I can personally attest. This is the second holiest site for Jews, containing as it does the tombs of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah.

In the earliest days of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad adopted from his Jewish neighbours the practice of turning towards Jerusalem during the five daily prayers. But in the year 622, a few months after his arrival in Medina, he did an about turn during one prayer session and from then on directed his followers to pray towards his home city of Medina. He severed all direct ties with Jerusalem, and in the centuries that followed Jerusalem was never a provincial capital, nor the heart of a Muslim country or empire. Medina in the first years, then Damascus, Baghdad, Istanbul and other cities became the capitals of Islam. Cairo was the major city in North Africa, Fez and Rabat capitals of the west, Esfahan, Tabriz, Tehran and others the royal cities of Iranian dynasties. And so on. But Jerusalem was never given such signal importance. This is significant. Palestinian wishes to make Jerusalem defy centuries of insignificance would lock us into a dispute that could last one thousand years.

For this reason, Jews everywhere will refuse to relinquish a city that was theirs from the beginning, and they will not reward people who have tried to take what was never theirs, who have tried to deny the historical record concerning the Jewish presence in a city that has been Jewish for 3000 years. To confirm the place of Jerusalem at the heart of Jewish life and prayers and as the eternal capital of their only homeland, Jews and Israelis appeal to honest governments to do the right thing and recognize that Jerusalem is the city where all the key aspects of Israeli life converge. No Israeli regards Tel Aviv as his or her capital. It is demeaning to treat Israelis as children by telling them this or that foreign government knows better than they and their government when it comes to designating Jerusalem their capital. I do not think you treat any other capital city in this way. You do not call Cork the capital of Ireland, nor Glasgow the capital of Scotland, nor the cathedral city of St. David’s the capital of Wales, nor Marseilles the capital of France. I do not believe the Foreign Office means to be insulting in this matter; but if foreigners called Birmingham the capital of England and the UK, would you not feel aggrieved?

Israel’s enemies call in all seriousness for the destruction of the country. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called on all Islamic nations to ‘exterminate Israel’ (my translation). The Arabs, faced by their repeated failure to achieve this by military means or terrorism, have turned to secondary means, saying that there never any Jews in Israel, that they themselves were there first, an impossible 9000 years ago, and that Jerusalem was always an Arab city (a claim that directly contradicts the accounts of Arab historians like al-Tabari). It is a cheap and dishonest attempt to rewrite history itself and to introduce confusion into a simple narrative. Denying the historicity and modern reality of Israel, of Jerusalem, and of Israelis by refusing to liberate the city from the string of fictions that has tied so many in knots, allows falsehood and deceit to rule in international affairs. Britain is still a great country that is admired the world round for its probity. I do not doubt that you, like myself, wish to see that image remain untarnished. But I have to say that it is in some measure tarnished when you try to steal the Israeli capital from the Israelis themselves.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Denis MacEoin

Guardian’s Becky Gardiner Celebrates Holocaust Memorial Day By Defending Blood Libeler

Cross posted by Alan A at Harry’s Place

In the Guardian’s op ed by Raed Salah, the following footnote has been added:

In the thread below, there has been some discussion about statements that Raed Salah allegedly made. The Comment editor Becky Gardiner has commented, setting out the judgement here and here. Raed Salah has also replied here.

This is what Becky Gardiner says:

Raed Salah’s amanuensis adds in his name:

After a 10-month legal battle, I have now been cleared on “all grounds” by a senior immigration tribunal judge, who ruled that May’s decision to deport me was “entirely unnecessary” and that she had been “misled”. The evidence she relied on (which had been given to her by the Community Security Trust, a British charity, and included a poem of mine about oppression which been doctored to make it appear anti-Jewish) was not, he concluded, a fair portrayal of my views. The judge said the one short passage in a speech that May used as evidence that I had repeated the so-called “blood libel” [the medieval accusation that Jews use the blood of Christian children to make bread] “was not a sample [of my views], or ‘the tip of the iceberg’: it is simply all the evidence there is.” In reality, I wasn’t referring to any such thing. I reject any and every form of racism, including anti-Semitism. I don’t believe in the “blood libel” against Jews and I reject it in its entirety. What I was really referring to in my sermon was the killing of innocents in the name of religion, including children, from the time of the Inquisition to as recently as Bosnia and elsewhere in Europe whose governments support Israel’s action. In fact, what May has neglected to consider in respect of the speech is that I also said in the speech ‘we are not malicious and we will not be malicious, thus we will also protect the honour of the Jewish synagogues.’ I have no doubt that, despite this, Israel’s cheerleaders in Britain will continue to smear my character. This is the price every Palestinian leader and campaigner is forced to pay.

So, that’s the Guardian’s position.

On Holocaust Memorial Day.

There is a whole bunch of evidence, unused in the trial and unquestioned, that shows the nature of Raed Salah. Becky Gardiner is very much aware of it herself, because I know that “a senior Guardian figure” took it to her, in an attempt to get her to publish just ONE piece explaining why liberals and progressives ought not to back Raed Salah.

Articles were written. They were submitted by a number of people to the Guardian. They weren’t even acknowledged.

Becky Gardiner’s view, I’m afraid to say, was that Comment is Free should not offer a platform to those who wanted to oppose Raed Salah’s incitement and racism. She saw opposition to Zionism as a sort of Manichean struggle, in which she was on the side of the angels.

The “senior Guardian figure” was quite surprised. But obviously, he did nothing about it because, you know, we mustn’t make a fuss.

This is the year in which antisemitism became a mainstream “progressive” cause. Fancy joining the fightback?

The Guardian, Raed Salah and Yom HaShoah.

A whole nation is at this moment remembering the slaughter of two-thirds of its members’ population in Europe.

That genocide was fuelled and enabled by the spreading of a racist supremacist ideology which sought to rid its subscribers’ country from ‘contamination’ by Jews.

That ideology was propagated in the minds of another nation by the spreading of false tales about Jewish evil-doing and coordinated scheming and by the dehumanisation of Jews to such a degree that even if they did not directly take part, millions stood by and watched as one of the most shocking events in human history took place.

Barely had the strains of the memorial siren which was sounded this morning all over Israel as a mark of respect for the six million victims of racist hatred faded away, when the Guardian chose to publish an article on its ‘Comment is Free’ website penned by Raed Salah – a man who holds beliefs and ideologies virtually indistinguishable from those which caused the events that siren commemorates.

The editors of the Guardian have fought in Raed Salah’s corner ever since the affair began. 

Now, once again, their immature “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” stance has caused them to tarnish the battered reputation of a once respected newspaper (and prove themselves to be eminently lacking in taste) by publishing Salah’s bizarre claims of being the victim of a “smear campaign” by “Israel’s cheerleaders in Britain” and that his anti-Semitic ‘poem’ “had been doctored” in order to frame him.

Those editors also permit Salah to launch a tirade of lies and distortions on everything from marriage laws, municipal and government budgets and equal pay laws to the well-worn subject on Guardian pages of Al Arakib and deliberate misrepresentation of the Balfour Declaration.

More gravely still, they allow Salah an unfettered platform from which to make the ridiculous – and dangerous – claims that official Israeli policy includes transfer and ethnic cleansing and that Israel is destroying the al Aqsa mosque.

There can be little doubt that some at the Guardian actually subscribe to at least parts of the genre of lies propagated by Raed Salah. There can be even less doubt that those who do not must be so intimidated by the prevailing organisational culture that they cannot curb the publication of such a blatantly outrageous article by a religious supremacist and separatist who subscribes to Hamas ideologies and aspirations alarmingly similar to the one the victims of which are being commemorated today.

Raed Salah has made a career out of extremism and incitement. That is who he is and what he does. However uncomfortable it may be, it is necessary to admit that – as his planned speaking tour proves – there is an audience for that kind of extremism in the United Kingdom as well as the Middle East.

But extremists do not get very far without the middle-men who re-package and re-brand their ideas and move them into the mainstream.

There are too many of these middle-men in Britain today.

Some of them sit in the House of Lords and in Parliament whilst others hold office in churches or so-called human rights organisations and charities.

Still more are members of Trade Unions, the academia or the media.

These people take the lies and dehumanisation of extremists such as Raed Salah and wrap them in a veneer made possible by their own standing which allows pernicious ideas to be spread to a general public which would otherwise not come into contact with them.

This is not to suggest that the editors of the Guardian and others are plotting a new genocide against the Jews. Indeed they would doubtless be horrified by the very suggestion. But what they are doing by uncritically publishing and promoting the lies and libels of extremists such as Salah and various Hamas functionaries and supporters is shifting hate-speech against Jews and Israelis alike into the realm of mainstream opinion.

As we should all (Guardian editors included) know by now and as we are reminded today, Yom HaShoah, such hate-speech does not exist in a vacuum.  

“The power of the media to create and destroy fundamental human values comes with great responsibility. Those who control the media are accountable for its consequences.”