CAMERA monitors media coverage of Israel, Feb. 26 – March 10: Guardian, NYT, Al-Jazeera, Ha’aretz

English Posts

Al-Jazeera America TV News Aims Against Israel
Twisted coverage of Israel is consistent with the network’s indirect connection through its owner to the creation of the Palestinian Hamas terrorist entity sworn to Israel’s destruction. The CEO, aiming at the opinion makers, admits to unconcern about profits and viewer ratings. (CAMERA)

Where’s the Coverage? The Truth about “Israel Apartheid Week”
The latest untold story. (CAMERA Snapshots)

Ha’aretz Veers Off Course with Ports Story
In the latest false media account of a supposed anti-Israel BDS victory, Ha’aretz incorrectly reports that two foreign companies withdrew from a ports tender due to boycott fears. (CAMERA)

When Media Cover for Palestinian Terror Groups
Martin Kramer has excellently exposed how The New York Times covers for Rashid Khalidi. (In case it’s not clear, the job of a serious newspaper is to cover the PLO spokesman-cum-professor, not cover for him.). (Snapshots)

Just the Facts: Stripping Down Ha’aretz Coverage on Airport Search
Ha’aretz news article describes a “he said/she said” dispute about the alleged strip search of an Israeli Arab teacher. Ha’aretz headlines and opinion pieces upgrade the disputed claim to fact. (CAMERA)

Ha’aretz Lost in Translation on Strip Search
Today, in an apparent case of “lost in translation,” the Ha’aretz English edition continues to report as fact the disputed claim that Israeli Arab teacher Ezies Elias Shehada was subjected to a strip search. (Snapshots)

Mitnick, the U.S., and “Illegal” Settlements
American policy on the legality of the settlements has been consistent for decades. And Joshua Mitnick’s coverage of that policy has also been consistent. Consistently wrong, that is. (Snapshots)

Did Mahmoud Abbas outrage Syria’s Palestinian refugees by waiving their right to live?
The Guardian failed to report news that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had rejected an Israeli offer to allow thousands of Palestinian refugees, caught in war-torn Syria, safe travel into the West Bank and Gaza – citing his fear that they may be forced to forfeit their “right of return”. (CiF Watch)

Hebrew Posts

Yossi Sarid’s Boycott
What are the aims of the BDS Movement? (Presspectiva)

The Media is a little too fast in reporting BDS successes
Did Dutch and Italian companies really withdraw tender application to build new ports in Israel, due to political reasons?. (Presspectiva)

Abu-Mazen’s True Position
What Abu Mazen says in English is not always identical to what he says in Arabic . (Presspectiva)

Ha’aretz No Longer a Newspaper
Has Ha’aretz decided to come out of the closet, shrugging off any pretense of being a news organization? What other explanation is there for publication of the full text of a petition by Rashid Khalidi and Judith Butler without any comment or context? (Presspectiva)

Portraying Israel as if it was North Korea
A Ha’aretz Op-ed is too happy to grossly mischaracterize and declare as a fact, incidents which are very much in dispute. (Presspectiva)

Ma’ariv Finally Corrects!
Days before an ethics committee hearing on Presspectiva’s complaint, Ma’ariv finally corrects a six month old story. (Presspectiva)

Spanish Posts

ABC: ¿Por qué fue Merkel a Israel?
El diario español ABC se encarga de que los palestinos estén en el titular de la noticia sobre la visita de Merkel a Israel, que era relevante por otros motivos. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

¿Dónde está la cobertura?
La prensa en español suele recoger y reproducir noticias provenientes de periódicos israelíes, siempre y cuando los hechos que relate esa noticia sirvan para reforzar la imagen de Israel que se pretenden instalar entre el público lector. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

La agencia EFE: acusación particular contra Israel
La agencia gubernamental española presenta los argumentos de la acusación, pero en ningún momento nos permite conocer qué alega el acusado en su defensa. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Un elefante rosa 
Es grande, ruidoso, muy visible en un lugar pequeño y, aún así, nadie quiere verlo. Lo mismo sucede con Hamas, y con los grupos terroristas que operan desde Gaza, en el marco de las conversaciones de paz entre Israel y la AP. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Pincelada propia 
La agencia española de noticias Europa Press, tomaba el material deReuters y no podría evitar darle un giro muy propio. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Hamás condena la enseñanza de los DDHH en Gaza
La organización terrorista condena el curricula de la UNWRA por incluir asignaturas sobre derechos humanos. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

5 razones que alejan a los palestinos de la paz
Utilizar los medios de comunicación para difamar a Israel y difundir odio gratuito desde la cúpula de la Autoridad Palestina, son razones de peso que alejan a los palestinos de la paz y que usan como plataforma de difusión los medios de comunicación masiva. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

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‘Arafat is still dead': Guardian ‘mentions’ French report that he was NOT poisoned

“Our top story tonight: Generallissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.” – Saturday Night Live (Season 1, Episode 7)

Yasser Arafat has been dead for nine years, but attempts to resuscitate old libels suggesting that he was murdered by Israel will likely continue to periodically grace the pages of the Guardian – at least as long as someone, somewhere, claims to have new, previously unrevealed evidence.  

On November 6, the Guardian devoted five separate articles (hereherehere, here and here) encompassing over 3200 words to a ‘stunning’ new report by Swiss scientists on their autopsy of Arafat’s remains.  (Details of the Swiss report were originally obtained by the Guardian’s ideological ‘sister-site’ Al-Jazeera.)

Whilst the story, alleging that the late Palestinian leader was likely poisoned by radioactive polonium, was the lead story on the Guardian’s home page for several hours the day the story broke, the paper all but ignored analyses published elsewhere which were highly critical of the Swiss conclusions.


The Independent, Nov. 8


Nature (International Weekly Journal of Science), Nov. 7

Yesterday, the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood reported on the results of a new French report which seems to completely contradict the Swiss findings.


The French report found that Arafat’s death in 2004 was caused by the effects of “old age following a generalised infection”, and ruled out the possibility that he was poisoned.  In contrast to the paper’s saturation coverage of the Swiss findings, Sherwood’s latest story on the new report was not featured on the Guardian’s home page, and was consigned to page 19 in the print edition of the paper.

Of course, the conclusions of the French team are not at all surprising in the context of many facts previously revealed about the case, including the following:

  • After Arafat’s death, in November of 2004, the Palestinian Authority refused to release medical records which would have shed light into the cause of death.
  • Despite immediate accusations after Arafat’s death that Israel likely was to blame, neither the Palestinian Authority nor Arafat’s widow Suha allowed an autopsy to be performed on the body.
  • A New York Times report in 2005 (based on an examination of Arafat’s medical records the paper had obtained) concluded that he died of “a stroke that resulted from a bleeding disorder caused by an unknown infection,” and that Arafat did not suffer the extensive kidney and liver damage they would expect to see if he was exposed to a lethal toxic substance – findings, they noted, which “argued strongly against poisoning”.

Like the Spanish dictator mocked in the SNL skit, Yasser Arafat – known as the father of modern terror‘ – is “still dead”.  However, as long as someone has an anti-Zionist axe to grind, and can find sympathetic editors at compliant pro-Palestinian news sites, we can likely expect sensational stories legitimizing ‘new theories’ surrounding the cause of his ‘untimely’ death for many years to come.

Facts about Yasser Arafat’s death and life the Guardian won’t report

The Guardian devoted five separate articles (here, here, here, here and here) on Nov. 6 to a recently released report by Swiss scientists on their autopsy of Yasser Arafat’s remains which was originally obtained by Al-Jazeera.

pal page

Though, in fairness, the Guardian’s reporting on the Swiss findings (which reportedly showed unexpectedly high levels of radioactive polonium-210) was relatively restrained – mostly noting that the substance found on Arafat only indicate that he could have been poisoned, the stories do significantly downplay or ignore evidence indicating that poison likely was not the cause of death.

Here are a few facts:

  • After Arafat’s death, in November of 2004, the Palestinian Authority refused to release medical records which would have shed light into the cause of death.
  • Even more curious (especially in the context of the immediate accusations of murder directed towards Israel), neither the Palestinian Authority, nor Arafat’s widow Suha, allowed an autopsy to be performed on his body.
  • report in 2005 by The New York Times (based on an examination of Arafat’s medical records which the paper had obtained) concluded that he died of “a stroke that resulted from a bleeding disorder caused by an unknown infection,” and that Arafat did not suffer the extensive kidney and liver damage they would expect if he was exposed to a lethal toxic substance – findings, they noted, which “argued strongly against poisoning”.
  • Arafat’s remains have been examined by two additional forensic teams other than the Swiss team (French and Russian), but those results have not yet been made public.
  • The original ‘exclusive’ Al Jazeera report on the Swiss findings noted that, in the event Arafat was poisoned, his Palestinian rivals at the time of his death would have to be considered main suspects – a possibility not even mentioned in the more than 3200 words the Guardian devoted to the story. 
  • Al Jazeera reported that though the evidence suggests poisoning, “no evidence has emerged that implicates [Israel]“, while the Guardian framed the findings as merely ‘not definitively proving that Israel murdered the Palestinian leader’.

Whilst we may never know with certainty the exact cause of Arafat’s death, we do know quite a bit about the lives he extinguished during his long reign of terror, a resume which includes launching and directing a four-year campaign of violence directed at innocent civilians known as the Second Intifada, and his leadership role in dozens of deadly attacks against Israelis which date back to the 1960′s.

As we Tweeted last year after questions emerged about the possible poisoning of Arafat, we humbly wish those concerned with whether there was foul play in his death would show as much concern for the surviving families and loved ones of those he murdered. 


Photo of Israeli terror victims (Algamor)

Harriet Sherwood gets it wrong on Gaza construction material claim.


Goods crossing into Gaza from Israel's Kerem Shalom Crossing, late 2012.

Goods crossing into Gaza from Israel’s Kerem Shalom Crossing, late 2012.

Harriet Sherwood’s July 19th story on Egypt’s recent re-closure of Gaza’s supply tunnels (Palestinians in Gaza feel the Egypt effect as smuggling tunnels close) included a blatantly inaccurate claim.  Here’s the passage:

About 20,000 construction workers have been laid off as a result of the shortage of materials. Israel, which allows consumer goods to be imported into Gaza, forbids the passage of construction materials – apart from small quantities destined for UN projects – on the grounds they could be use to make weapons or arms storage depots.

The claim that Israel still only allows construction materials destined for UN projects is not true. 

In late December, 2012, it was widely reported that Israel expanded the legal passage of construction materials (which had previously only allowed materials for UN projects) to include the passage of private construction materials into Gaza.

On Dec. 26, Ynet reported the following in a story titled ‘Israel to ease Gaza ban on construction material‘:

Israel is to begin allowing materials for private construction into Gaza, easing its blockade under the terms of a truce deal, Israeli and Palestinian officials said on Wednesday.

The decision will allow private companies and individuals to import construction materials that were previously restricted exclusively to international aid groups under the terms of Israel’s blockade.”

The Saudi Gazette, on Dec. 27, published a story titled ‘Israel to ease Gaza ban on construction materials‘, which included the following:

“Israel is to begin allowing materials for private construction into Gaza, easing its blockade under the terms of a truce deal, Israeli and Palestinian officials said on Wednesday.

The decision will allow private companies and individuals to import construction materials that were previously restricted exclusively to international aid groups under the terms of Israel’s blockade.

“This is the first time Israel will allow the import of gravel for the private sector since the blockade began in mid-2007”, [said Palestinian customs official Raed Fattouh].”

The Egypt Independent, on Dec. 27, in a piece titled ‘Israel eases Gaza blockade following truce deal‘, wrote the following:

“Israel is easing its blockade of Gaza to allow construction materials and other goods into the enclave under the terms of a truce deal mediated by Egypt.

The decision allows [for the first time since 2007] private companies and individuals to import construction materials that were previously restricted exclusively to international aid groups… AFP reported.

Here’s Al Jazeera on Dec. 27, in a piece titled ‘Israel eases ban on Gaza building material:

“Israel has allowed a shipment of gravel for private construction into the Gaza Strip, easing the blockade it imposed after Hamas seized control of the enclave in 2007, a Palestinian official said.”

Even the Palestine News Network (PNN), on Dec. 27, in a story titled Israel to Allow Imports to Ease Gaza Blockade, reported the following:

“Israel will allow 20 trucks a day loaded with construction material to enter the Gaza Strip starting next week, in an attempt to ease its blockade under the terms of a truce deal signed with an Egyptian-mediation between Hamas and Israel after the eight days escalation last month.

The new construction material will be for the Palestinian sector, and this decision will allow private companies and individuals to import construction materials that were previously restricted and only embarked for internationally funded building projects.”

Sherwood plainly got the facts wrong, and we’ll be seeking a correction to the story.

An ugly disgusting rant: Joseph Massad and Glenn Greenwald attack ‘the usual Jewish suspects’

Shortly after Julie Burchill’s January commentary, titled ‘Transsexuals should cut it out‘, at the Observer was completely removed after thousands of readers complained that her piece was bigoted towards transsexuals, the Observer’s decision was defended by their readers’ editor,  Stephen Pritchard.  

Pritchard called the decision a rational one, based on his contention that Burchill’s essay was “needlessly offensive” and “gratuitously insulting”.

Though some in the media were highly critical of the decision by the Observer (a Guardian sister publication) to pull Burchill’s piece, Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian’s putative defender of free speech, was mostly silent on the Burchill Affair.  Indeed, his Tweet, on Jan 13, shortly after Burchill’s piece was published should give some indication as to why.

‘An ugly disgusting rant’ would certainly be one way to characterize Joseph Massad’s despicable essay in Al Jazeera on May 14, which argued the following:

  • Zionism not only equals racism, but the ideology itself is antisemitic.
  • Zionists cooperated and collaborated with the Nazis during the 30s and 40s.
  • Zionism should be understood as the fulfillment of the Nazis’ dream, and that the there is a strong “ideological similitude” between the two movements.

As Petra Marquardt-Bigman has argued, the writings of Massad (who has contributed to Comment is Free‘ and Electronic Intifada) can easily be confused with material found on extremist racist websites.

There is one exception to this paradigm, however. Massad is of Palestinian origin, so his otherwise boilerplate extreme right narrative about Israel and Jews is compromised a bit by these howlers:

  • Unlike Zionists, who, by virtue of their Zionism, are antisemitic, “Palestinians have remained unconvinced and steadfast in their resistance to anti-Semitism“.
  • Unlike ‘Zionist anti-Semites’, “the Palestinian people have mounted a major struggle against…anti-Semitic incitement”.

Whilst there were no Tweets by Greenwald expressing outrage over Massad’s pseudo intellectual racist assault against Jews, the decision by Al Jazeera to remove the Massad article from their site sent Greenwald into a fury:

In case there is any doubt who Greenwald is referring to by “the usual suspects“, in the Tweet he links to a piece criticizing AJ’s decision (and defending Massad) by Ali Abunimah of Electronic Intifada – whose support for Massad is not surprising as he advanced the Zionism = Nazism narrative in a Tweet in 2010 – which accused Al Jazeera of caving in to “Zionists extremist” Jews, such as Jeffrey Goldberg, John Podhoretz and Rahm Emmanuel.

It really takes a mind occupied by the most crude antisemitic stereotypes about the danger of Jewish power to conjure a scenario by which a Qatari based pro-Sunni Islamist media group was strong-armed by a small gang of powerful Jews into censoring an otherwise meritorious essay.   

Greenwald is a Jew by birth, and though we don’t possess some sort of piercing mentalism which would allow us to see the bigotry which may lurk in his soul, it should be clear to anyone who has seriously studied the “liberal” Guardian’ commentator that his moral sensibilities are – at the very least – compromised by a callous indifference to even the most explicit and malicious expressions of Jew hatred. 

Terrorist propagandizing – a beginners guide: By Ben White

Ben White, professional Israel hater, anti-Semite whisperer, and ‘Comment is Free’ contributor, may have landed a new gig.


White – a proponent of the one-state solution, and a Brit who’s arguably one of the the Guardian’s favorite BDS supporters - has previously romanticized about the bloodshed of Palestinian ‘martyrs’, so it’s not surprising that a commentary he published at Al Jazeera on Feb. 22, titled ‘What a period of relative calm looks like in the Occupied Territories‘, was recently cross posted here:

white at hamas

Hamas website

The piece highlights an “infographic” purporting to demonstrate the number of attacks in Gaza since the ceasefire agreement between Hamas and Israel in November – data which, per White, “lay bare the daily reality for Palestinians and the power imbalance between the occupier and an occupied, colonised people fighting for their basic rights.”

Whilst it’s unclear if White consented to being cross-posted by Al Qassam Brigades or not, the decision by an official Hamas propagandist manning the site to promote his anti-Zionist, post-colonial agitprop represents a perfect example of the political synergy between the British anti-Zionist left and the Islamist reactionary right (what’s known as the Red-Green Alliance).

Of course, such antisemitic, misogynistic, homophobic and anti-democratic Islamist movements like Hamas don’t give a damn about political “power imbalances” or “basic [human] rights”, but are often willing to cynically employ tropes which evoke such Western values when it suits their purposes.  

Fortunately for Hamas, they can continue to rely on a steady stream of putatively “liberal” ‘Comment is Free’ contributors like Ben White to run interference for this absurd ideological charade. 

Harriet Sherwood falsely reports on alleged arrests of Palestinians at ‘Bab al-Shams’

Harriet Sherwood’s latest report, ‘Israel evicts E1 Palestinian peace camp activists, Jan. 13, about Palestinian protesters who set up a tent city, named Bab al-Shams, in the area between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim known as E-1, and were recently removed by Israeli police, began as follows:

“The Israeli state has swung into action against a group of Palestinian activists who established a tent village on a rocky hillside east of Jerusalem, with hundreds of security officials carrying out an eviction under the orders of the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, in the early hours of Sunday morning.

According to activists, a large military force surrounded the encampment at around 3am. All protesters were arrested and six were injured, said Abir Kopty.”

Further in the report, Sherwood added the following:

Palestinian legislator Mustafa Barghouti, who was among those arrested, said the eviction was “proof that the Israeli government operates an apartheid system.

However, according to police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, there were no arrests made — a statement which was accurately reported by several Arab media outlets and which Rosenfeld confirmed today to CAMERA. According to Rosenfeld, a few activists were detained briefly, then released.

Today, CAMERA prompted a speedy correction to a CNN report which also included false allegations about protester arrests.

As CAMERA noted in their post about the original CNN error, even  Al Jazeera, “hardly a source known for reporting skewed in Israel’s favor” reported the story accurately, writing the following:

“Several activists were detained during Sunday morning eviction, including Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative, Al Jazeera’s correspondent, reporting from Jerusalem, said.

Al Jazeera’s Jane Ferguson, reporting from Jerusalem, said the activists who were detained were driven to Qalandiya checkpoint and then released.”

Additionally, here’s how the Arab News reported it:

“Hundreds of Israeli police came from all directions, surrounding all those who were in the tents and arresting them one by one,” Palestinian legislator Mustafa Barghouti told AFP.

But police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP that no arrests had been made.

And, here’s the relevant passage from a report by the Egyptian site, Ahram Online:

“Hundreds of Israeli police came from all directions, surrounding all those who were in the tents and arresting them one by one,” Palestinian legislator Mustafa Barghouti told AFP.

But police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP that no arrests had been made.

“They were told they were trespassing and carefully escorted from the site one by one,” he said. “Nobody was hurt on either side.”

It appears as if Sherwood merely took the statements by Palestinian activists at face value without even attempting to corroborate their claims.

Please consider writing a respectful email to the Guardian’s readers’ editor, Chris Elliott, asking for a correction to Sherwood’s false claim.

This is not an attack on Abdel Bari Atwan

This essay was written by Arnold and Frimet Roth and originally published at their blog, ‘This Ongoing War

Nearly two years ago, here on this blog, we posted an article we called 4-Dec-10: Should this man be accorded the respect due to an objective, professional journalist?” It opened with these words:

“As newspaper editors go, Abdel Bari Atwan gets more than the average amount of prominence. Given the nature of his political views, he gets a surprisingly respectable degree of respect from such mainstream media channels as NPR, Sky News, CNN and the BBC (who call him Abdel-Bari Atwan) which have hosted him frequently and which, for reasons which can only leave us wondering, present him as an objective observer on events in this part of the world…”

We then quoted a small handful of offensive, racist and/or hate-based statements attributed to Atwan over a period of some years. (There are plenty to choose from.) We ended this way:

“Atwan said the March 2008 point-blank, cold-blooded shooting-massacre by a Palestinian Arab gunman of eight unarmed high school students, most of them aged 15 or 16, at Jerusalem’s Mercaz HaRav yeshiva “was justified“… Atwan says the celebrations in Gaza that followed the massacre symbolized “the courage of the Palestinian nation.” [Source: The Jerusalem Post] Depending on where you stand, justifying a terrorist massacre is not the worst of crimes. On the other hand, given what is at stake when it comes to defeating the practitioners of terror and their supporters, is Abdel Bari Atwan the kind of person who should be given public platforms in highly prominent settings? Or is Abdel Bari Atwan simply the innocent victim of some atrocious misquoting?”

To be blunt, any intelligent observer reviewing the work product of this toxic man realizes it’s not about misquoting. On his Wikipedia page, there’s this revealing anecdote:

“Following an October 2003 article in which Atwan claimed that the U.S. is to blame for the Arab world’s hatred of it, a Yemenite journalist and columnist for the London Arabic-language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Munir Al-Mawari, stated: “The Abd Al Bari Atwan [appearing] on CNN is completely different from the Abdel Bari Atwan on the Al Jazeera network or in his Al Quds Al Arabi daily. On CNN, Atwan speaks solemnly and with total composure, presenting rational and balanced views. This is in complete contrast with his fuming appearances on Al Jazeera and in Al Quds Al Arabi, in which he whips up the emotions of multitudes of viewers and readers.” [Wikipedia’s source]

Now, today, there’s a report [Times of Israel] that Atwan’s London-based daily paper Al-Quds Al-Arabi, one of the world’s leading Arab-language dailies and a news channel that focuses on Palestinian issues (the name literally means ‘Arab Jerusalem’), has run an editorial entitled “The only thing left is to send them to the gas ovens.”

The piece is unsigned, but the Twitter handle of editor-in-chief Atwan (@abdelbariatwan) appears at the bottom. He dominates the paper as its editor since 1989. Here’s a taste:

The Israeli army, through its inhumane treatment of over two million Palestinians besieged by land, sea and air, reminds us of similar treatment by the Nazi army of Jewish inmates in the Nazi camps. The only difference is that the Israeli army hasn’t sent the Palestinians to the gas ovens, at least not yet’

Holding out Israel’s defence forces as equivalent to the Nazis, and their intentions as genocidal, is not his invention. Other foaming-at-the-mouth polemicists and unadorned antisemites do it a lot and have done for years. And as our title suggests, we’re not attacking Atwan here. The man is what he is.

What we are taking this opportunity to criticize, this time with the disgusting Nazi analogy of today’s Atwan editorial in mind, is the way in which this unpleasant individual with his noxious views continues to be given public platforms in respectable places.

We think this can only be because the people in those places (a) don’t know what he writes in Arabic, (b) don’t care or (c) share Atwan’s self-opinion (on his website) that this is actually a function of his “lively and passionate debating style“.

Examples of the respectable places that give Abdel Bari Atwan a platform? His website lists some of them here: BBC News (as recently as two weeks ago); Al Jazeerah; BBC Dateline; BBC News Review; RT (“Russia Today”); Chatham House London. His website describes him as “a regular contributor to a number of UK, US, Middle Eastern and Turkish publications including ‘The Guardian’, ‘The Scottish Herald’, ‘Gulf News’ and ‘Star Gazet’“. 

These are the people who need to be criticized. We don’t say Atwan should be shut up or shut out. Many of us live in free societies, and obnoxious views like his are part of the price. What we do say is that presenting him as a sober and objective stakeholder in the robust public marketplace of ideas is irresponsible, dishonest and disingenuous.

His viewpoints on terrorism alone should have taken out of the mainstream broadcast media years ago. The fact that he keeps on popping up suggests a serious degree of systemic prejudice at work inside Bush House and other such places of huge global influence.

Bad taste at the Guardian: Coleslaw with a pinch of Polonium

Cross posted by Petra Marquardt-Bigman at The Warped Mirror

Under the memorable headline “Making Cole-slaw of history,” Martin Kramer documented some years ago just how hilarious it is that Juan Cole calls his blog “Informed Comment” (and for “Cole-slaw”-fans, there is in fact a rich archive of additional helpings).  However, it’s apparently no joke that Cole, who is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan, encourages the readers of his blog to send him money because “Informed Comment is made possible by your support.”


In any case, it’s arguably hardly surprising that editors at the Guardian are fans of Juan Cole, and when the professor recently vented his displeasure at Mitt Romney’s visit in Israel, the Guardian secured Cole’s “kind permission” to cross-post the piece on its Comment is Free (CiF) site.

The Guardian made a minor change to Cole’s original title – which read on CiF: “Ten reasons Mitt Romney’s Israel visit is in bad taste” – and added a sub-title: “The Republican presidential hopeful is holding a fundraiser and playing war enabler in Israel – it’s wrong on so many levels.”

The astonishing claim that Romney was “playing war enabler in Israel” is taken from Cole’s reason #7, which reads in part:

“Romney is promising his donors in Jerusalem a war on Iran. When George W Bush promised his pro-Israel supporters a war on Iraq, it cost the US at least $3 trillion, got hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed, destabilised the Gulf for some time, cost over 4,000 American soldiers’ lives and damaged American power and credibility and the economy.”

Of course, Cole’s link to an AP report does not show Romney “promising his donors in Jerusalem a war on Iran” – indeed, why should this blood libel be different from all the other invented accusations against blood-thirsty Jews over the centuries?

What Cole is claiming here is plainly that Romney’s “donors in Jerusalem” want a war on Iran, just like the “pro-Israel supporters” of George W Bush wanted and got an incredibly costly and bloody war on Iraq. It’s really just another version of a paragraph from Article 22 of the Hamas Charter:

“They were behind World War I, when they were able to destroy the Islamic Caliphate, making financial gains and controlling resources. They obtained the Balfour Declaration, formed the League of Nations through which they could rule the world. They were behind World War II, through which they made huge financial gains by trading in armaments, and paved the way for the establishment of their state. […] There is no war going on anywhere, without having their finger in it.”

The day after the Guardian featured Cole’s fantasies about Israel’s insatiable appetite for bloody wars and its mysterious ability to get the US to fight them, it was time for a Guardian-sponsored rehash of Al Jazeera’s pathetic attempts to revive rumors about Yasser Arafat’s death.


Some four weeks earlier, Al Jazeera had announced with great pomp and circumstance that it had conducted an “investigation” that pointed to poisoning with radioactive Polonium; however, conspiracy theories about Arafat’s death have been around ever since he died in November 2004, and even the specific claim that he was poisoned with Polonium is nothing new. While Al Jazeera’snew program succeeded in unleashing a veritable “orgy of conspiratorial theorizing” – with Israel as a favorite target – the people behind Al Jazeera’s“investigation” are apparently hoping to get yet more mileage out of this story, and the Guardian seems only too willing to provide a platform to the assorted conspiracy theorists.

There have been already countless reports and commentaries refuting the Al Jazeera “investigation,” but it’s perhaps worthwhile to add one particularly interesting testimony on Arafat’s death from a long and fascinating Atlanticreport that was published in September 2005 under the title “In a Ruined Country: How Yasir Arafat destroyed Palestine.” One of the people interviewed for this report was the Palestinian billionaire businessman Munib al-Masri; here are the relevant parts of the report:

“Talk of Arafat’s last illness makes al-Masri sad again. “Every morning I used to go see him and give him the medicine because he would not take it from anybody else,” he remembers, looking moodily out over his lawn. “Yeah, and I never thought he would die.”

“How long did you know that he was sick?” I ask.

“For the last year. Last year in September he told me he doesn’t feel well. So, and he felt that something was not right, and it looks like he had the same symptoms again, but the last time he had enough immunity. Yeah, he knew.”

I am struck by al-Masri’s use of the word “immunity,” which is a word characteristically associated with aids. Rumors that Arafat died of “a shameful illness” spread quickly through the West Bank and Gaza. […] The Palestinian leadership denounced reports that Arafat was a homosexual as lies spread by Mossad, the Israeli foreign-intelligence agency. Accounts also circulated that a secret agreement had been reached between the Israelis and Arafat’s heirs, stipulating that the truth about Arafat’s fatal illness would not be released, the Palestinian leader would be buried in Ramallah and not in Jerusalem, and the wanted men who had accompanied him in his captivity would not be pursued by Israeli forces.

“He knew that it was the same disease that he had a year ago?” I ask. Al-Masri nods his head.

“Same symptoms,” he answers. “But look how strong he was. I mean, when Abu Mazen came,” he says, referring to Arafat’s longtime deputy, Mahmoud Abbas, “we brought him from one bed in his small room to a bigger room where we could sit. I sat on the bed. Abu Mazen sat in front of him and Abu Alaa sat in front of him. He said, ‘Ah, Mazen.’ His face was very red, and you know that he was very sick, but he wants to show that he was still in control of the details with Mazen, you know? He said, ‘I have this flu, ah, ah. I have this flu. Came and went to my stomach.’”

There is another very interesting part from the meeting with al-Masri in this report:

“The money he [Arafat] spent to buy the loyalty of his court, al-Masri gently suggests, could easily have paid for a functioning Palestinian state instead.

“With three hundred, four hundred million dollars we could have built Palestine in ten years. Waste, waste, waste. I flew over the West Bank in a helicopter with Arafat at the beginning of Oslo, and I told him how easy we could make five, six, seven towns here; we could absorb a lot of people here; and have the right of return for the refugees. If you have good intentions and you say you want to reach a solution, we could do it. I said, if you have money and water, it could be comparable to Israel, this piece of land.”

But if you don’t have good intentions and don’t really want to reach a solution, you can always blame Israel – as is regularly done on Al Jazeera, the Guardian, and Juan Cole’s blog…

On the death of a terrorist named Arafat and a CiF Watch Tweet which went viral

After Yasser Arafat died in 2004, the Palestinian Authority refused to release medical records which would have shed light into the cause of death.

While it was reported that AIDS was a possible cause, as Challah Hu Akbar observed, “conspiracy theories relating to Arafat’s death have been around since the beginning.”  

These have included the accusation that he was poisoned by Polonium 210, the same substance which killed Russian defector Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.  The Polonium theory was also advanced, for example, by antisemitic extremist Israel Shamir in 2006.

Interestingly, a report in 2005 by The New York Times (which had access to Arafat’s medical records) concluded that he died of “a stroke that resulted from a bleeding disorder caused by an unknown infection,” but noted that the “findings argued strongly against poisoning”.

However, just yesterday, July 4, Al-Jazeera revived the story, and claimed that the results of “a 9 month investigation” of the death of Arafat “uncovered radioactive polonium on [Arafat’s] final belongings,” a story which has spread across the web.

Of course, many of us at CiF Watch have been more concerned with the absence of information, in most of the coverage of these “revelations”, regarding Arafat’s death toll – the casualties resulting from a terrorist war against innocent civilians which he helped to revolutionize.

Arafat’s long reign of terror included orchestrating the start of the 2nd Intifada, a four-year campaign of violence which claimed the lives of over 1100 Israelis. (See CAMERA’s “Yasir Arafat’s Timeline of Terror” for a summary of the terrorist violence the Palestinian leader was responsible for – attacks which date back to the 1960’s.)

So, yesterday, we Tweeted the following which, as of this post, has been ReTweeted 88 times:

Hopefully, the success of our (under 140 character) observation about the legacy of Arafat indicates that the notoriety of the man (known as “The Father of Modern Terrorism“) will not soon be forgotten.

The anti-Zionist malice of ‘Comment is Free’ contributor Mya Guarnieri

At an October protest against legislation commonly referred to as the loyalty oath – a bill that would require non-Jews seeking Israeli citizenship to pledge allegiance to a “Jewish and democratic” state - Gavriel Solomon, a prominent academic and peace activist, likened Israel to Nazi Germany, circa 1935...That was the year that the Nuremberg Laws – racist legislation that led to the systematic and deadly persecution of Jews – were created….There were no [concentration] camps yet but there were racist laws,” he said. “And we are heading towards these kinds of laws.” [emphasis mine] – Mya Guarnieri, Al-Jazeera, Feb. 6, 2011

Mya Guarnieri is nothing if not ambitious.

In a 2010 ‘Comment is Free’ piece she characterized the bigoted comments of a few dozen Israelis as an event which portends the rise of a Jewish state lurching towards fascism. Her polemical crusade aspired to nothing less than saving the “very soul Judaism” – a quite messianic ambition for a secular Jew like Guarnieri, and even more impressive when you consider that our Hebrew-speaking activist’s goal of earthly salvation was executed in a quite thrifty 636 words!

It’s important to note that Guarnieri seems intent on saving “Judaism”, not Israel – the Jewish state whose stubborn wish to exist she fiercely opposes in the name of all that is sacred to her understanding of progressive values.

She supports, instead, a quite modest proposal: the radical reconstitution of the world’s only Jewish state into the 51st majority Muslim state, with Jews living as the minority.  

When Guarnieri isn’t calling for the demise of the 3rd Jewish Commonwealth, she can be seen, on the pages of Counterpunch all but calling for a new Intifada, warning that Israeli Jews are engaged in a ‘war of attrition against non-Jews‘, and suggesting that anti-BDS legislation passed by the Knesset was arguably “proto-fascist“. 

Guarnieri has even published an essay accusing Israel of institutionalized “destruction of Muslim religious properties” in the pro-Hezbollah propaganda site, Al-Akhbar.

So, it wasn’t at all surprising that ‘Comment is Free’ provided Ms. Guarnieri a platform to criticize Israel’s anti-terror operation against Zuhair al-Qaissi, in a manner thoroughly consistent with the Guardian’s recent egregiously biased coverage of both the IDF action, and subsequent Gaza rocket fire.

In “The killing of Zuhair al-Qaissi exposes Israel’s attitude to its supreme court” CiF, March 14, Guarnieri criticizes the killing of al-Qaissi – a senior Popular Resistance Committee operative responsible for planning a multi-pronged terror attack that was to take place via Sinai within a few days.

Guarnieri’s complaint centers around the fact that Israeli intelligence on the planned terrorist attack by al-Qaissi – who was among the leaders who planned, funded, and directed the combined terror attack that took place on Route 12 in August 2011, in which 8 Israelis were killed and 40  injured – was based on “secret evidence”.

Guarnieri’s piece deals with what she claims are Israeli violations of supreme court rulings more broadly. However, she argues, about the attack on the PRC leader, that though the court has indeed ruled in favor of such preemptive acts to prevent terror attacks, on a case-by-case basis, “depending on the evidence”, she counters that “…without seeing the security forces’ secret evidence, it’s impossible to know if al-Qaissi was indeed planning an attack.”

Of course, to treat Guarnieri as a serious interlocutor, and assume good faith in her query about Israeli intel on the PRC terrorist, would be an act of supreme foolishness – as most of what the “progressive” journalist writes represents merely anti-Zionist conclusions in search of supporting evidence. For Guarnieri, Israel’s sin is original and immutable – her polemical inquiries merely representing an edifice by which to impute guilt.

However, just as a point of comparison about a democracy’s right to protect its citizens from terror groups intent on murdering its citizens, the U.S. presents a good example.

The U.S. military, from 2004 till 2012, carried out 290 drone strikes in northwest Pakistan against al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders (attacks which have significantly increased in the Obama years), and killed between 1,778 and 2,764 people, of whom around 1,485 to 2,293 were terrorists. (So, roughly 17% of those killed are believed to have been civilians).

It’s important to note two things: First, such attacks (controlled by the Central Intelligence Agency’s Special Activities Division) are largely based on the desire to prevent potential attacks, as opposed to actionable intelligence that an attack was to be imminently launched on U.S. soil; And, evidence regarding the terror affiliations of the roughly 2000 terrorists killed are not made public by the U.S. military, nor subject to review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

However, beyond the specious legal arguments she puts forth, Guarnieri concludes that the IDF targeting of such PRC leaders represents “a war on Palestinians – and anyone that Israel deems an ‘other‘” [emphasis added] – that is, further evidence of Israeli racism.

About the Palestinian “other”:

The Popular Resistance Committees are trained, funded and provided weaponry by Hamas, refuses any form of reconciliation with Israel, and acts as a sub-contractor for Iranian and Hezbollah agents in Lebanon, carrying out terror attacks against Israelis in return for funding.

According to the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, PRC is split into three factions, two of which collaborate with Hamas and operate under its auspices. The third faction, called the Army of Islam, is affiliated with global jihad movements.

PRC has a radical Islamist ideology similar to Hamas, argues that Muslims are obligated to wage violent Jihad, and specifically believes that killing Israelis is the only way to “liberate” Palestine.

Finally, to further contextualize Guarnieri’s politics, she, in a piece for Mondoweiss in May of 2011, described Israel as “a place that is Jewish in numbers but utterly lacking a Jewish soul.” Zionism, she argues, “in [claiming] that the Jewish people cannot exist without [a Jewish] state, denies hundreds of years of Diaspora history, culture, and languages”, and is, therefore, itself, a form of antisemitism. 

The moral inversion is now complete. 

Guarnieri’s malign obsession with Israel is so intense that she views Zionists as the true antisemites – representing, by definition, a reactionary element which should inspire moral outrage – while terrorist groups who openly advocate the murder of Jews evoke progressive sympathy.

If you want to know how debased the anti-Zionist left has become, simply follow the supremely callous musings of Mya Guarnieri – whose lazy stereotypes (crude, ugly caricatures) about Israel, and Israelis, embody a movement’s hateful, and simply insatiable, fixation on the sins, real and imagined, of living Jews. 

Wadah Kanfar promotes the progressive virtues of radical Islam at ‘Comment is Free’

November 27th saw the publication on CiF of yet another promotion of ‘moderate, democratic Islamism’, this time written by Wadah Kanfar who resigned from his eight year post as director general of Al Jazeera in September – but not before collaborating with the Guardian on the Palestine Papers affair last January.

Kanfar’s Muslim Brotherhood sympathies and affiliations are well known and indeed were the cause of the resignations of numerous journalists from Al Jazeera under his directorship.

It was also Kanfar who brought the Muslim Brotherhood’s ‘spiritual leader’ Sheikh Qaradawi to Al Jazeera and gave him a regular slot where he promotes his anti-Semitic, homophobic and misogynistic ideologies.

The Guardian’s provision of a platform for Kanfar to extol the virtues and advantages of the work-in-progress rise of Islamists to power throughout the Middle East and North Africa is therefore akin to inviting the Master of the Hunt to write an article on how absolutely spiffing fox-hunting really is.

I’m not going to deconstruct Kanfar’s arguments here myself because as it happens, the Azure magazine recently published an excellent must-read article by Dr. Uriya Shavit – a lecturer in Islamic history and theology at Tel Aviv University – which explains at length precisely why Islamist rule is inherently incompatible with democracy.

“According to the Islamist worldview, Allah has given mankind a complete and perfect doctrine of life: Islam. Democracy and individual rights follow from and are mandated by this doctrine—and are consequently subordinate to its divine injunctions.

Since Islamists believe that the legitimacy of the political order is founded on a divine decree, they utterly reject any possibility of rebellion, whether in the name of democracy or individual rights, against other religious precepts. Hence, they would not allow a parliament to pass laws that contradicted the explicit commands of Allah, as conveyed to humanity through the Koran and the example set by the prophet. As al-Qaradawi and others have explained repeatedly, human beings cannot permit what Allah has forbidden, nor can they ban what Allah permits. For example, the Koran denounces abortion and the consumption of alcohol; consequently, a human parliament has no authority to grant them legislative sanction. Similarly, for particular offenses the Koran stipulates harsh penalties—capital punishment or amputation of a hand, for example—that no human legislator may repeal, nor may the prohibition of idol worship be overturned in the name of freedom of religion.”


“Western observers therefore miss the point when they wonder whether the Muslim Brotherhood supports free elections and civil liberties. To predict the character of the regime that the Islamists will establish, if and when they are given the opportunity, only one question is relevant: Will Islamic democracy take the Koran as its highest authority, with religious scholars as its sole authorized interpreters? An answer in the affirmative—whether clear or implicit—carries within it the unmistakable seeds of theological despotism.”


“The challenge facing the Arab Spring can thus be summarized as follows: Democracy without the Muslim Brotherhood is impossible, but so is democracy under its leadership. There is no doubt that the Brotherhood enjoys broad support in every Arab country that has undergone democratic revolutions or uprisings in the last year. Elections in which the movement is not allowed to participate will therefore lack popular legitimacy. Moreover, the Brotherhood’s liberal and democratic rhetoric will make it difficult for the legal establishment to disqualify the movement. The inevitable result of its electoral victory, however, will be the formation of a theocracy. It will not permit the scientific and technological revolution of which Arab societies are in such dire need. Simply put, the future of Arab democracy hangs by a thread: The Muslim Brotherhood must be permitted to run in elections, but not gain power.”

However, as we are already seeing across North Africa, the Islamists are gaining power and any hope of the emergence of true democracies from the upheaval of the ‘Arab Spring’ is fast waning.

Rather than confront that fact, the Guardian elects to sell out the real liberals in the MENA regions who risked their lives in the attempt to achieve genuine democracy and to bury its editorial head in the sands of the Islamist double-speak.

As Dr. Shavit points out:

“For democracy to strike real and lasting roots in the Arab world, the United States and its allies must free themselves of the influence of multi-cultural and post-colonial theories and determine—first for themselves, and then for others—the distinction between truly enlightened regimes and their imitators.”

The Guardian remains mired in its own long tradition of failing to do precisely that, and therefore aids and abets existing and future religious tyrannies rather than being the beacon of liberalism it claims to aspire to be.

The Guardian’s “democratic” Islamist leader: Kill every last Jew on earth

H/T Just Journalism

We have posted previously about the Sunni cleric, Sheik Yousuf al-Qaradawi – a radical religious extremist, and Holocaust supporter, who’s also considered to be the Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader. 

However, al-Qaradawi’s extremism was characteristically white washed by the Guardian in their Middle East Live Blog back in February.

“Al-Qaradawi might be familiar to many in Britain. The government was criticised back in 2008 by moderate Muslim groups after it banned him from entering Britain and branded him an extremist.

Qaradawi, who was banned from entering the United States, had previously visited the UK in 2004 at the invitation of the London mayor, Ken Livingstone, sparking protests from Jewish groups and gay people, who regard him as anti-Semitic and homophobic.

However, he is also arguably the most influential Sunni Muslim cleric in the world and has regularly spoken in the past in support of democracy.

A  March 18, 2011 post by the Guardian’s Middle East Editor, Ian Black, included this benign description:

Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the popular preacher who appears regularly on al-Jazeera,

Back in 2005, a Guardian column by   characterized al-Qaradawi, thusly:

“[al-Qaradawi is] a widely regarded as a moderate and one of the most respected scholars in the Muslim world.”

She further noted that describing him as an extremist – merely because he supports Palestinian suicide attacks against Israelis -is “absurd.”

Now, per a recently released WikiLeaks cable:

‘In a Friday, January 9, sermon broadcast on Al Jazeera Arabic, Imam Yousef Al-Qaradawi condemned Jews for spreading “corruption in the land,” and for victimizing the Muslim people. He cited the Babylonian Captivity and the Roman conquest as historical examples of God’s punishment of Israel. He said “We wait for the revenge of Allah to descend upon them, and, Allah willing, it will be by our own hands…Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them, down to the very last one.” [emphasis mine]

No doubt, al-Qaradawi’s CiF column, contextualizing his explicit call for genocide against Jews, will likely appear soon. 

Guardian moderators inexplicably delete comment beneath post by Roy Greenslade

Roy Greenslade’s post, Al-Jazeera bureau chief arrested in Israel, Guardian, Aug. 16, produced a paltry number of comments, but it did elicit this by “Sorcey“.

In response to Sorcey there was this by HushedSilence:

HushedSilence16 August 2011 11:28AM

Re: “The only things that have occurred recently is more building by Israel in the West Bank and East Jerusalem”

Jews building houses in an area where Jews already live, is a matter for international concern.

Re: “IDF strikes on Gaza.”

Though of course you wouldn’t be aware that this is in retaliation for the rockets and mortar strikes on civilian areas in Israel and the damage and injuries done because that’s so unimportant that the Guardian doesn’t report them.

And, then.

So, apparently, glib accusations of Israeli racism and brutality – in response to a story where few details are available – are perfectly acceptable, but a rebuttal to the defamation, which also dares to criticize the Guardian, runs afoul of their “community standards.”

Tel Aviv homeless upset at (Mya Guarnieri-style) far left hypocrisy

This is cross posted at Point of No Return

Kfar Shalem - the common man's struggle against encroaching redevelopment

With Israelis camping out in the streets in protest against a chronic shortage of affordable housing, who should jump on the bandwagon but Mya Guarnieri, al-Jazeera’s woman in Tel Aviv [and occasional CiF contributor]. Guarnieri wonders why the media have been ignoring the good citizens of Kfar Shalem, an area of south Tel Aviv threatened with demolition which she wrote about in February.

Kfar Shalem may not be familiar to most Israelis but it is certainly known to readers of this blog, when Point of No Return covered the mostly-Mizrahi residents’ struggle to fight eviction in 2007.

Young anti-Zionist radicals like Guarnieri can’t resist politicising what is essentially nothing more sinister than the common man’s universal fight against encroaching urban gentrification and redevelopment.

In her article for +972 blog, Israel has manipulated the poor Mizrahim for political ends, exploiting them to keep Palestinians from reclaiming their homes:

Now an economically depressed neighborhood of South Tel Aviv, Kfar Shalem, was once a Palestinian village, Salame. Jewish forces ran the Arab residents out in early 1948, months before Israel was established and (what some refer to as) the War of Independence began.

The young state gave the empty Palestinian homes to impoverished Mizrachi Jews. The idea, some residents of Kfar Shalem admit today, was to discourage dispossessed Palestinians from returning. The Jewish occupants were to “guard” the houses.

These new residents also created facts on the ground and, after the 1948 War, the municipality of Tel Aviv annexed Jaffa and Salame—both of which were destined for a Palestinian state under the partition plan approved by the UN in November of 1947.

Not a word of course, about the Arab aggression that caused the ‘War of Independence’. Nor is Guarnieri remotely troubled by the thought that the impoverished Mizrahi Jews could have themselves been dispossessed of their homes in their Arab countries of birth. For Guarnieri, Arabs can only ever be victims.

This blog has already drawn attention to the double standard among far-leftists for whom Arab property rights invariably trump Jewish rights, for example in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah. These leftists are only ever exercised by injustice against Jews when the Ashkenazi-dominated ruling elite can be blamed.

Curiously enough, however, this form of leftist hypocrisy has not escaped some of the residents of Kfar Shalem themselves: they obviously find the attentions of anti-Zionists like Guarnieri rather irksome. She herself admits, but was too cowardly to include in her report for Al-Jazeera:

.. many of the Jewish Israelis I interviewed were upset with their fellow citizens for not doing more to help them in their battle against homelessness. Some also expressed frustration with the Israeli left because they felt that such activists reserve their sympathies only for Palestinians and foreigners.

Good for you, residents of Kfar Shalem, for making a stand against the leftist manipulation of your grievances to advance their own political agenda.