This blog has consistently demonstrated the journalistic malice of Guardian reporter Chris McGreal - a reporter so hostile to Israel that he all but accused IDF soldiers of deliberately murdering innocent Palestinian children. He’s also achieved the rare distinction of being singled out by the CST (the British charity tasked with protecting British’s Jewish community) in their 2011 report on antisemitic discourse.
So, while the tone of the following Tweet (on July 22) by McGreal didn’t surprise us, the wild nature of his claim inspired us to take a brief look at the issue he addressed.
— Chris McGreal (@ChrisMcGreal) July 22, 2014
Interestingly, the claim in the tweet – that the Israeli Prime Minister once led a rally under the banner “death to Arabs”, and the broader argument that this wish to kill Arabs motivated his decision to attack Hamas in early July, was repeated in a July 31st Guardian op-ed by McGreal titled ‘American media’s new pro-Israel bias: the same party line at the wrong time‘.
His op-ed begins thusly:
Here are a few questions you won’t hear asked of the parade of Israeli officials crossing US television screens during the current crisis in Gaza:
- What would you do if a foreign country was occupying your land?
- What does it mean that Israeli cabinet ministers deny Palestine’s right to exist?
- What should we make of a prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, who as opposition leader in the 1990s was found addressing rallies under a banner reading “Death to Arabs”?
McGreal’s proposed questions were meant to serve as a contrast to what he believed to be softball questions ask by US reporters of Israeli officials during the current war.
Leaving aside McGreal’s specious claim that the US media isn’t critical enough of Israel, the reason why reporters haven’t asked Israeli officials about the rally in July 1994 where Bibi allegedly spoke under a banner reading “Death to Arabs” is is because the banner in question didn’t actually say that.
First, while you can watch the full video (which McGreal embedded in this Tweet) here to see for yourself, here’s a snapshot of the frame which captures the banner under which Bibi (then the opposition leader) addressed the crowd.
The banner, at this anti-Yasser Arafat rally, reads, in Hebrew, “Death to the master murderer“, referring of course to Arafat, and the English to the right (though admittedly unclear) reads, based on multiple media reports at the time, “Death to Arafat“. It didn’t read, as McGreal claims, “Death to Arabs”, but “Death to Arafat” – the Palestinian leader dubbed the father of modern terror due to his role in scores of deadly Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians. (Indeed, Arafat’s war on Israeli mean, women and children continued in the 90s and early 2000s’, even after the Oslo Agreement)
Here’s a passage from the Chicago Tribune on July 4, 1994:
The visit of the man of blood, Arafat, to the State of Israel, paraded and protected by hundreds of Israeli policemen and soldiers, is the height of the absurd and degrading show that we have witnessed in this past year,” said keynote speaker Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the opposition Likud Party. He spoke from a podium decked with a banner that read “Death to Arafat.”
Here’s a passage from the Philadelphia Inquirer on July 4, 1994.
Scores of police collected at the fringes of the Israel rally, while Orthodox Jewish men in black hats and knit yarmulkes and women in head coverings shouted anti-government slogans. They carried placards caricaturing Rabin – even setting at least one afire – and draped banners, like that screaming “Death to Arafat.“
Here’s a passage from The Santa Cruz Sentinel on July 4th, 1994, referring to the Hebrew section of the banner:
He spoke from a second-floor balcony draped with a banner reading: “Death to the Master Murderer”.
Here’s a passage from the Seattle Times on July 4, 1994, again referring to the Hebrew section of the banner.
He spoke from a second-floor balcony draped with a banner reading, “Death to the master murderer.” Usually leaders of the mainstream opposition party distance themselves from such belligerent slogans.
Finally, it’s of course true that the rally in question included some truly hateful chants and placards, and Netanyahu’s decision 20 years ago to speak at the rally should be criticized. However, that’s not the point. McGreal erroneously claimed in his Tweet (and Guardian op-ed) that Bibi spoke above a banner which read “Death to Arabs“, to which he added in his Tweet: “Now he’s making it come true“.
McGreal was imputing homicidal racist motivations to Netanyahu’s decision to launch a war against Hamas – a smear of the Israeli Prime Minister which was based on a total lie.
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