Channel 4 News ‘report’ legitimizes ISM propaganda video

The following is an edited version of a post published by Thomas Wictor

Someone asked me if I’d seen Channel 4 News’s report “What Really Happened to Salem Shamaly?” I hadn’t. Now I have, and I believe that it should make reporter Inigo Gilmore the laughingstock of the news profession. But of course it won’t. It’s a followup to the fake Gaza sniper video I wrote about on July 21, 2014. I’m stunned that a supposedly reputable news outfit would put out such propaganda, but it did.

First, the Channel 4 News video. 

Here’s the original International Solidarity Movement (ISM) video for your reference.

At 4:18 in the Channel 4 News video, Inigo Gilmore says, “The first shot that hit him is not caught on camera.”

It most certainly is. At 2:23 in the fake sniper video, you hear a gunshot and its echo. Mohammed jostles the camera to add crappy Blair Witch Project drama, and then you see this.

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Independent posts op-ed by Ilan Pappe calling Israel a ‘supremacist’ Jewish state

The Times of Israel recently published a story titled ‘Israeli soldiers sperm in hot demand‘, which reported an increase in the number of Israeli women seeking sperm donors with a military background, likely reflecting the fact that the war in Gaza may have given many of the women new insights into the value of heroism and patriotism.

However, as we’ve seen time and time again, the most popular anti-Zionists among British news editors tend to be those who can take a relatively innocuous fact about the Jewish State, and manage to impute the most malevolent and racist motives.

To boot, an Aug. 17th op-ed at the Indy by the anti-Zionist Israeli historian Ilan Pappe (What a rising demand for the sperm of IDF soldiers and a “fun” questionnaire reveal about Israel) takes the Times of Israel story about sperm donation trends into a predictable direction.

Here are the relevant passages in Pappe’s op-ed:

The first is the present drive among infertile Jewish parents to seek the sperm of the combatant elite units who fought in Gaza. This is to ensure the purest and most supreme DNA possible for their prospective children. And it is fully supported by the official Israeli Sperm Bank.

To be honest, these soldiers did not do too well in the battlefield. Conventional armies are inept when it comes to battling face-to-face with desperate guerrillas dug deep in tunnels and bunkers. Possibly the HAMAS DNA would have been a bit more fitting for this purpose, if one wishes to take ad absurdum this Israeli Jewish obsession with human engineering.

It was bad enough to base the whole Zionist idea on the wish to create an exclusive and supremacist Jewish democracy, in a land where the Jews were not and are not going to be ever such a majority (unless they genocide the local population).

There are other enormously problematic elements of Pappe’s op-ed, but the charge leveled against Israel that those Jewish Israeli women who want the father of their children to be Israeli soldiers reflects some sort of endemic Jewish racism should briefly be put in context.

The term “Jewish supremacism” – an especially vile form of the ‘Zionism = Racism” charge – has been popularized by extreme antisemites such as former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke and a neo-Nazi style extremist named Gilad Atzmon. Indeed, the doctoral thesis written by Duke was titled ‘Zionism is a form of ethnic supremacism’. 

But, at the heart of Pappe’s charges is something much darker than merely a commentary on Zionism.  If you recall, back in 2011 the Guardian’s Deborah Orr achieved well-deserved notoriety for complaining that so many Zionists believe “that the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate [Palestinian] neighbors” – “Zionists” of course being a euphemism for “Jews”.

Such an ugly distortion of the Jewish ‘chosen people’ idea often suggests that the Jewish faith, in practice if not by theological design, arguably shares an ideological similitude with other odious, exclusivist 20th century ideologies in that they see their group as a superior race.

Ilan Pappe had to be aware of the ideological baggage associated with that the term “supremacist” in relation to the state of the Jewish people, and editors at the Indy – which claims to be a champion of enlightenment values – should certainly not have allowed its editorial pages to be used as a repository of such reactionary, racist notions about Jews and Israel.  

Guardian readers’ editor claims that Hamas ‘denies’ using human shields

Guardian readers’ editor Chris Elliott, in an Aug. 18th column on the Hamas ‘child sacrifice’ advert featuring Elie Wiesel, wrote the following in the context of suggesting that his paper’s decision to publish the ad was not a wise one.

whatever the intention, the biblical language, the references to child sacrifice, all evoke images of that most ancient of antisemitic tropes: the blood libel. The authors may believe that they have steered a careful course by aiming these matters at an organisation, Hamas, rather than all Palestinians, but the association is there. If an advertisement was couched in similar terms but the organisation named was the IDF rather than Hamas, I can’t imagine the Guardian would run it – I certainly hope it wouldn’t. I think that’s the issue.

Of course, the difference between charging soldiers of the Jewish State with a blood libel (the historic allegation that Jews murder non-Jews, especially children, and use their blood for religious rituals, part of a broader narrative regarding Jewish “murder-lust”) vs leveling such charges at Hamas is that there is no history of racist anti-Palestinian blood libel tropes.

However, there’s another claim in Elliott’s critique of the ad which is even more dubious:

Each advertisement has clearly got to be decided on a case-by-case basis, bearing in mind not just specific criteria but the context of the times as well. I entirely support the argument that freedom of expression means the freedom to offend. On that basis I don’t think it was wrong to run an advertisement that expressed a viewpoint, with which the Guardian has no sympathy, about the alleged use of human shields by Hamas, which the organisation has strenuously denied. But there are always limits. 

So, Hamas has “strenuously denied” the charge? Really?

Evidently, Elliott didn’t see this widely circulated MEMRI clip of Hamas Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri (from Al-Aqsa TV on July 8th) commenting on one of the many well-documented ‘human shield’ incidents.

Contrary to Elliott’s claim, the official Hamas spokesman couldn’t possibly have been clearer about the use of human shields: “We in Hamas call upon our people to adopt this policy“.  

Owen Jones, and the Left’s blind spot over antisemitism

Cross posted by Jeremy Havardi at The Commentator

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Leftists have long had a blind spot when it comes to antisemitism. This is partly because some have found comfort in this rank bigotry, seeing Jews as a privileged elite and a personification of the capitalism they abhor. But it is also because they like to define antisemitism on their own terms, showing disdain for how Jews themselves feel.

They recognise and condemn its more usual manifestations, particularly when it comes packaged with swastikas, jackboots and lethal rhetoric. But they refuse to recognise the other side of Jew baiting — the double standards, the conspiracy thinking, the Holocaust inversion and the anti-Zionism.

Owen Jones clearly has the blind spot just mentioned. In an article in Monday’s Guardian [Aug. 11], Jones discusses the menace of antisemitism in Europe. He recognises that it has spiked during the conflict in Gaza and argues that ‘attempts to belittle it are dangerous, allowing the tumour to spread unchecked’.

He dismisses those who try to deflect blame onto the Jews themselves. This, he says, is like ‘rationalising anti-Muslim prejudice as the inevitable consequence of Islamist fundamentalist terror’. So far, so good.

But then he gets unstuck. First, he raises the old canard that pro-Israel supporters accuse ‘pro-Palestinian’ protestors of being antisemitic in an attempt to silence criticism of Israel.

The danger is that the ‘meaning of antisemitism is lost, making it all the more difficult to identify and eliminate hatred against Jewish people at a time when it is rising’. He goes on to say that for some defenders of Israel’s governments, the ‘supposed special attention received by the conflict is itself evidence of antisemitism’.

In reality, he argues that these protestors are condemning the actions of a heavily armed state backed by the West.

The idea that Israel’s supporters routinely accuse their critics of antisemitism is essentially fictitious. The vast majority of these supporters can recognise the difference between criticism of Israeli policy and baseless hatred. Virtually no sane Zionist sympathiser would label someone antisemitic simply for criticising policy on the West Bank or settlements. These are matters of legitimate public discourse.

But what these supporters will argue, justifiably, is that the discourse on the conflict has become badly corrupted. Israel has been likened to a Nazi state that is engaged in a policy of wholesale extermination. Only recently, Lord Prescott labelled Gaza a ‘concentration camp’ in an article for the Mirror. Others, like David Ward and Lee Jasper, have used Holocaust Memorial Day to attack Israel and the Jews.

Cartoonists have routinely tapped into antisemitic stereotypes to depict Israeli leaders, the most popular of which evoke images of the blood libel. The ‘all powerful’ Israel lobby is accused of being an evil puppet master, manipulating western foreign policy for its own insidious ends. This taps into a centuries old stereotype of sinister and demonic Jews controlling the world.

Supporters of Israel have every reason to condemn such ugly displays of bigotry. Yet the accusation is trotted out that they accuse every critic of anti semitism, which is absurd. This is an attempt to silence and smear Zionists, not critics of Israel. Maybe Owen Jones should answer this question: How nasty must criticism of Israel become before it can be considered antisemitic, or at least bigoted?

Is it acceptable to portray Netanyahu as a hook nosed Jew revelling in Palestinian blood, as a latter day satanic Hitler or perhaps as an evil puppet master controlling western leaders? Unfortunately, images such as these have proliferated at anti-Israeli rallies around the world.

Jones is anxious to defend those who go on ‘pro-Palestinian’ rallies. But the unmistakeable sentiment from marchers is unmitigated hostility to Zionism and a Palestine free ‘from the river to the sea’. Yet Zionism is simply the acknowledgement that the Jews are a nation with a collective right to self-determination.

Anti-Zionists deny Jews this right while granting it to every other nation. That is why true progressives, like the great Martin Luther King, have long recognised the connection between hostility to Zionism and hostility to Jews.

Jones secondly fails to understand how antisemitism is often dressed up in ‘progressive’ form. He (rightly) mentions the danger from Front National, Jobbik and Golden Dawn, three extreme groups suffused with xenophobic prejudice against Jews, immigrants and Muslims. He condemns attacks on synagogues in Paris as well as other assaults.

But antisemitism is not just about jackboots and swastikas, torched synagogues and racist insults. It is about discriminating unfairly against Jews, Jewish institutions and Israelis.

It is about holding Jews to a different standard or demanding from them a unique level of behaviour. It is about calculated offence, such as abusing the memory of the Holocaust for political ends. Nor does antisemitism have to be intended for it to be real.

When we stop viewing this prejudice through far right tinted spectacles, we can understand why Kilburn’s Tricycle theatre has been accused of racism. Last week, the Tricycle boycotted the UK Jewish Film Festival after the latter refused to accept a condition that it first reject £1,400 of funding from the Israeli embassy.

The Tricycle suggested that UKJFF was being politicised by this money and, by implication, the theatre would be taking sides over the Gaza conflict.

Yet this condition has not been imposed in other cases where cultural institutions have received government funding. To take one example, the Tricycle hosted the London Asian Film Festival, even though it was financed by the Indian government, a party to the long running conflict over Kashmir.

Moreover, the Tricycle has happily taken a sizeable grant from the Arts Council, a government funded body. Yet British governments have recently been mired in controversial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This is a blatant case of an egregious double standard applied to a Jewish cultural group. They, and only they, have been forced to sign up to a political credo (i.e. to dissociate from Israel) before they are deemed ‘acceptable’. In an attempt to appear self-righteous, the Tricycle’s organisers have engaged in a most pernicious form of bullying.

Had he cast his net further, Jones might have condemned George Galloway after his recent statement that no Israeli tourists were welcome in Bradford.

Galloway was saying that a boycott of Israeli goods and services was not enough; not one Israeli was welcome to step foot in his constituency either. By demanding that Bradford become Israelfrei, Galloway was not engaging in political debate. He was demonising an entire nation.

Equally bigoted was the decision of the Edinburgh Festival to axe ‘The City’, a play staged by Jerusalem’s Incubator Theatre. There were calls for its artists to publicly dissociate themselves from Israel’s policies in Gaza and the West Bank before being allowed to perform.

But again, such draconian demands have not been imposed on other nationalities. No other performers have been asked to pass a ‘values test’ before they can appear, nor should they be. Such behaviour is an outrageous affront to the principle of artistic freedom.

All three examples revolve around Israel and its conflict in Gaza. But Israel is the ‘Jew among nations’ and the country deserves equal treatment in the court of international opinion. Singling her out unfairly demands some form of explanation.

The motive for doing so is not always racist. Anti-Americanism and hostility to western power galvanise the left, and Israel is a bastion of democratic, western values as well as a staunch ally of America. It is also perceived, wrongly, to be a colonialist power. Hence it is a target of leftist discontent with western power. But the effect of such irrational discrimination and disproportionate focus is no less hurtful than a verbal insult.

It is still targeting the Jews.

It is only when we understand the many ways in which antisemitism manifests itself that we can start tackling it properly. It must be confronted warts and all, and with the blinkers and blind spots removed.

Jeremy Havardi is a journalist and the author of two books, Falling to Pieces, and The Greatest Briton

At London rally, Guardian editor accuses ‘terrorist’ Israel of ‘industrial-scale’ killing

Here’s a clip of the speech given by Guardian Associate Editor (and former Stalinist) Seumas Milne in front of tens of thousands of anti-Israel protesters at Hyde Park in London this past Saturday.  During the four-minute speech, Milne explicitly justified Palestinian terror attacks on Israelis (a refrain from his Guardian column in mid-July), and accused ‘terrorist’ Israel of “industrial scale” killing in Gaza. 

 

Hate emerges from beneath the surface: Antisemitism in the UK (July 2014)

Cross posted from The CST

July 2014 now joins January 2009 as a month when war between Israel and Hamas caused antisemitism to spew forth across Britain. If this latest round of Middle East violence has now ended, then we may expect the antisemitism to gradually diminish: but this hatred has again been revealed, even if most of the time it lies beneath the surface. Are British Jews (and those elsewhere) to be forever held hostage to a seemingly intractable conflict in which totalitarian Jihadists are sworn to destroy Israel at whatever cost?

Members of the public expressing fears and concerns to CST have referenced this in different ways. One said she felt “stuck in a swamp“. Another said that the hatred had come from “ordinary people, not what or who we expect it from…its the underlying antisemitism, and now that they’ve put it out there, how are we supposed to put it back?“. It may sound trite to speak of Jews defriending others on Facebook, but anecdotally, this seems to be happening again and again, with Jews deeply upset by what this conflict has revealed about those whom they believed to be their friends (in all meanings of the word).

Bare statistics do not, cannot, explain the emotion that many people are feeling right now: but they are stark. CST has now recorded over 200 antisemitic incidents for July 2014, making it very clearly the second worst month we have seen since our records began in 1984. (The worst was Jan’ 2009, when 288 incidents were recorded. The second worst was Feb’ 2009, with 114 incidents.) The July 2014 total is not yet finalised, because it takes time to properly analyse and categorise all of the reports reaching us from throughout Britain right now, so the figure of 200 is an absolute minimum.

Of course, antisemitic incidents occur every day, week and month of the year. CST recorded 304 between January and June 2014 (a rise of 36% from 2013). We now have over 200 in one month, so the maths are clear. Not every July incident relates to the Israel-Hamas conflict, but the majority do. Without listing every one of them, it is almost impossible to convey the scale and the impact of the invective, but each and every incident involves at least one victim and at least one perpetrator. They come randomly at Jews and Jewish locations throughout the country. Many of them appear to be perpetrated by Muslim youth and adults, but by no means all. That this racism is perpetrated in the name of human rights (for Palestinians) is bizarre, but nothing new: although it does help explain the deafening silence from the self-titled anti-racism movement. (Hope not Hate does not fit this category and is a strong exception.)

The hatred is showing clear trends. Shouting “Free Gaza” on a pro-Palestinian demonstration is not antisemitic: but obviously is when yelled at a random Jew in the street, or when daubed on a synagogue wall.  The same goes for screams of “child murderer”, shouted at Jews or pinned on a synagogue. Then, there is the ever present antisemitic fixation with Nazism. This comes two ways, Jews being told that they are the new Nazis, or Jews being told that “Hitler was right” (a phrase that trended on Twitter).

Child murderer has a long history in antisemitism, almost 2,000 years longer than Nazism does. The accusation of Jews having killed Jesus, the embodiment of innocence, moved into medieval blood libels. Some Jews perceive sections of the UK media as having focussed to such an extent upon Gazan child victims in this latest conflict that it somehow indicates that these blood libels still lurk somewhere deep. Others would counter that this kind of ‘unconscious antisemitism’ argument is ridiculous and that the media could not focus upon dead and injured children if they did not actually exist, nor in such numbers. The fact remains: British Jews are being called child-murderers.

The Nazi slanders and threats are not in mainstream media, but the question ‘why didn’t Jews / Israel learn the lessons of the Holocaust?’ has been. This is surely repellent to the overwhelming majority of Jews. It comes posed as a question, but really it is a demand. Whatever its motivation, it smells of Jew-Israel-Nazi equivalence and ‘we are holier than thou’.

The super-heated arguments of how the media covers Israel are not strictly CST’s business; and neither are boycotts of Israel. Nevertheless, it is impossible to discuss how Jews feel right now without noting how both things impact upon antisemitism, upon how Jews are perceived and how Jews themselves feel.

One need not be a dyed in the wool defender of Israel, nor even a Zionist, to suspect that no other country on earth appears to evoke such passion and hatred. We need not cite Syria right now, nor Sri Lanka in 2009, because Britain itself has killed civilians in the Middle East in recent years, children included. Yet it is only one section of British society that is called “child-murderers”, or “Nazis”, or is told that Hitler should have wiped them all out.

Less rhetorically, we must note that antisemitic incidents will subside along with the images on people’s television screens, but the long term damage to Jews of anti-Israel boycotts will persist. Dry statistics help us to measure the raw impact of this. If someone engages in “criticism of Israel” then 6% of British Jews consider that person “definitely antisemitic” and 27% answer “probably antisemitic”. If that person supports a boycott of Israel, then 34% of British Jews consider them “definitely antisemitic” and 33% “probably antisemitic”. So, boycott of Israel is a tipping point for most Jews in regarding criticism as being antisemitic or not. One consequence of this latest Israel-Hamas war will be a lot more boycotts, either through choice (such as trade unions and cultural venues) or through intimidation (such as commercial outlets). Just as Israel is being singled out for scrutiny and boycott, so many Jews are going to feel the same way.

When the Jewish Film Festival is given a ‘ditch your Israeli Embassy link’ ultimatum by the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, it betrays how British Jews’ connections to Israel are the measure by which others judge them. The same applies to the National Union of Students decision to boycott Israel, which promises no end of trouble and intimidation for Jewish students. Then, there are the mass intimidations of supermarkets that dare to sell Israeli goods, some of which have actually been forced to briefly stop trading as a result. (As cheerfully relayed here by a Labour MP.)

Finally, two antisemitic incidents out of over two hundred, giving the merest hint of recent events. The first speaks volumes of how Jews risk being expected to behave: and the reactions they risk upon refusal.

1. Street in Bradford, evening of 26th July. A Jewish man and his wife were driving when they became caught in slow moving traffic due to an accident up the road. Every car in the queue was being stopped by a group of apparently Muslim men and women, carrying buckets and asking for money for Gaza. The Jewish man politely declined to donate, whereupon “you f**king Jewish bastard!” was shouted at him. Then, another man used a loudhailer to also shout “you f**king Jewish bastard!” at him. Next, “Jewish bastard coming down the road!” was shouted down the street to alert each of the other collectors.

2. Synagogue in Hove, 2nd August (photo by F.Sharpe)

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When you’ve lost the Guardian… @TricycleTheater #antisemitism

The shameful decision by Tricycle Theater to effectively boycott the UK Jewish Film Festival over its ties with Israel has united some diverse factions, including the Board of Deputies, Ha’aretz, and now…the Guardian – yes, the Guardian!

An official editorial on the Gaza war and the rise of antisemitism included the following:

The board of London’s Tricycle Theatre delivered an ultimatum to the organisers of the UK Jewish Film Festival, which it has hosted for the last eight years: either cut your ties with the Israeli embassy, which gives a £1,400 subsidy to the festival, or find another venue.

UK Jewish Film refused that instruction, along with the Tricycle’s offer to make up the financial shortfall, and is now looking for a new home. No doubt the Tricycle believed it was taking an admirably principled stand on the conflict between Israel and Hamas, which flared anew after the truce that had held for nearly 72 hours broke down. But the theatre has made a bad error of judgment.

Some have made the argument that, if receiving money from a state implies endorsement of that state’s policy, then the Tricycle ought to return the £725,000 it receives from the taxpayer-funded Arts Council, lest that be read as backing for, say, UK participation in the invasion of Iraq. Of course, few would see the Arts Council as an arm of the state in that way. And a similar mistake seems to be at work here. For the Israeli embassy in London is not merely an outpost of the Netanyahu government. It also represents Israel itself, its society and its people. It was this connection with Israel as a country that UK Jewish Film refused to give up. Hard though it may be for others to understand, that reflects something crucial about contemporary Jewish identity: that most, not all, Jews feel bound up with Israel, even if that relationship is one of doubt and anxiety. To demand that Jews surrender that connection is to tell Jews how they might – and how they might not – live as Jews. Such demands have an ugly history. They are not the proper business of any public institution, least of all a state-subsidised theatre

Anshel Pfeffer of Ha’aretz wrote about Tricycle Theater’s decision that he “certainly wouldn’t have thought it could happen in one of the most enlightened corners of London”, and we certainly wouldn’t have thought that such a strangely lucid denunciation of antisemitism could have been published at a London broadsheets known for its embrace of Judeophobic voices.

Moreover, we can only hope that this deeply troubling episode will provide a teachable moment about the allure of what Ben Cohen refers to as ‘bistro antisemitism‘ to some of the more sober commentators on the hard left, as well as the leadership of a theater which evidently prides itself on its commitment to ethnic and racial diversity.

Revealed: Emails undermine Mira Bar-Hillel’s smear of UK Jewish community

In an interview on BBC Radio 4 last month, Mira Bar-Hillel (journalist for the London Evening Standard and commentator for The Independent) claimed that British Jews don’t criticize Israeli actions in Gaza out of fear of being “ex-communicated” from the Jewish community, and specifically claimed that such dissenting Jews would be denied entry to synagogues and denied the right of Jewish burial.

She of course didn’t offer any proof to substantiate these wild accusations.

CiF Watch subsequently obtained an email exchange in which Ms. Bar-Hillel was challenged by Simon Hochhauser, former President of the UK’s largest synagogue body, the United Synagogue, to back up her assertions about the British Jewish community.  

(We’ve erased Mr. Hochhauser’s email from the exchanges)

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(Red line emphasis below was added by CiF Watch)

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As we suspected, Mira Bar-Hillel’s shameful smear of the British Jewish community on BBC Radio was based on absolutely no evidence.

Indy journo Mira Bar-Hillel Tweets about the Protocols of the Elders of Zion

To get up to speed on Mira Bar-Hillel – a journalist who contributes to the ‘progressive’ British newspaper, The Independent, and whose sage insight about Israel was recently solicited by The BBC and Sky News - and her well-documented antisemitism, read this and this.

After doing so, you can now better understand the following Tweets by Bar-Hillel.

It started with this Tweet from someone named Emma Isitt, “quoting” a fictitious Israeli who evidently ‘confirmed’ that antisemites have been right all along.

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Spoiler: even antisemitic extremists know that this quote is a Pakistani hoax.

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Then the Twitter exchange:

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“Hoax or not”, says the Indy columnist, “the message is entirely true, and increasingly so”.

Here are the next series of exchanges:

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Does Bar-Hillel believe in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion?

“Look at the facts”, replied the Indy columnist, “and you will too”.

More Tweeters attempt to determine if the Indy columnist really is defending the Protocols.

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Is she only joking?

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So, to recap: Bar-Hillel believes that “the message” of Jews controlling America is “entirely true” and “increasingly so”, and that Jewish lobbyists appear to be picking up some of the ideas from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and using them.

Thanks for clarifying that for us, Mira.

London Times rejects anti-Hamas advert for fear it could upset their readers

A full-page advert was recently published by Elie Wiesel (and purchased by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach through his organization, This World: The Values Network) titled “Jews rejected child sacrifice 3,500 years ago. Now it’s Hamas’s turn”.  The ad condemns the Islamist group for using children as human shields, and invokes the Sacrifice of Isaac to frame the war between Israel and Hamas.

Here’s part of the ad:

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(click here to see the full ad)

The ad will reportedly appear in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald, but NOT in the London Times (aka, The Times).

A representative of The Times said: “In brief, [The Times] [feels] that the opinion being expressed is too strong and too forcefully made and will cause concern amongst a significant number of Times readers.”

Interestingly, The Sunday Times (sister publication of The Times) didn’t seem so concerned with the feelings of their readers when they published a cartoon Holocaust Memorial Day in 2013, depicting the bloody trowel wielding Israeli Prime Minister torturing innocent souls.

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Though The Sunday Times later apologized for the cartoon following heavy criticism, it was not retracted.

Additionally, The Sunday Times evidently saw nothing wrong with this advert by Save the Children that they published on July 25th, which all but accuses Israel of intentionally killing Palestinian children:

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The Sunday Times, Save the Children advert, July 25th, 2014

Finally, in their apology for the Scarfe cartoon, Sunday Times editors expressed concern that the cartoon offended many Jews, which begs the question concerning the decision to reject the Elie Wiesel advert:

Who were Times editors concerned would be offended? Hamas?

 

The moral necessity of Jewish power

(I first wrote this essay about Tisha B’Av in 2011 and have revised it slightly each year. This year’s version takes on special relevance for me in light of Israel’s current war with Hamas, and the characteristic response it has elicited in the Western media and among the opinion elite. – Adam Levick)

“People resent the Jews for having emerged from their immemorial weakness and fearlessly resorted to force. They thereby betrayed the mission that history had assigned to them — being a people … that did not get tangled up in the obtuse narrowness of the nation-state.” – Pascal Bruckner, The Tyranny of Guilt

In Israel, it is now Tisha B’Av, a day of mourning to commemorate the many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people throughout their history on the same date on the Hebrew calendar — the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av.

Tisha B’Av primarily commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples, but on this day we also reflect on the many other calamities which occurred on this date, from the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 to the mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto.

On this day, I tend to reflect on our painful collective recollection of past catastrophes in the context of the Jewish community’s often ambivalent relationship with power – ruminations only heightened by my still relatively new Israeli citizenship, a nation often forced to exercise power to prevent additional tragedies from befalling our people.

Israel’s very rebirth in 1948 can be seen as a direct response to these calamitous events — an attempt, through the various mechanisms of statecraft, to turn Jewish history around and act instead of being acted upon. Whether defending itself in war or aiding and rescuing endangered Jewish communities around the world, the Jewish collective has had at its disposal — for the first time in over 2000 years — a state apparatus with the means (politically, diplomatically, and militarily) to protect its interests as other nations have throughout history.

However, with this exercise of political strength comes a price, a unique moral burden that many Jews in the diaspora seem unwilling or unable to bear — as any exertion of power, or control over your own fate, inevitably carries with it the loss of innocence often projected upon people perceived to be victims and lacking in moral agency.

Israeli military power (exercised against terrorism, asymmetrical warfare and other small-scale regional threats, and in major wars against state actors) and the relative success and political power of Jewish communities in the West, seems to instill in many Jews a loss of identification with their community for fear of falling on the “wrong side” of the left-right political divide.

This chasm often finds expression in the need to identify in a way uniquely separate from such seemingly crude “ethnocentric” expressions of power which carry with them the necessity of physically defending a nation (one representing a very particular identity) in all the complexities and compromises that are invariably associated with even the most progressive national enterprises.

Before the birth of the modern Jewish state, German-Jewish philosopher Franz Rosenzweig in his pre-Holocaust book The Star of Redemption expressed his belief that a return to Israel would embroil the Jews into a worldly history they should shun. He viewed Judaism as a “supra-historical entity,” whose importance lies in the fact that it is not political but presents a “spiritual ideal” only. He saw the creation of a nation-state as a blow to the Jewish ideal of an apolitical spiritual life.

Indeed, from the revival of Mussar (and other movements which aspire to further individual Jewish ethical development) to the progressive mantra of “Tikkun Olam” (a misunderstood term which alludes to repairing the world spiritually but often employed to suggest that the pursuit of universal social justice represent the greatest expressions of Jewish devotion), this recurring tendency of Jews to pay greater attention to their own moral performance than to the nitty-gritty, messy, everyday necessities of collective survival is an inclination that writer Ruth Wisse characterizes as “moral solipsism.”

While personal spiritual improvement is indeed admirable, and the desire to tend to the needs of “the other” is certainly a noble impulse, it can also represent a political pathos — a moral escapism rooted in a blindness to the harsh political lessons of Jewish history.

Wisse, in her book Jews and Power, argues that, historically, Jews — in displaying the resilience necessary to survive in exile and not burdened by the weight of a military — believed they could pursue their mission as a “light unto the nations” on a “purely moral plane.” She demonstrates how, in fact, perpetual political weakness increased Jews’ vulnerability to scapegoating and violence as it unwittingly goaded power-seeking nations to cast them as perpetual targets.

Throughout their pre-state history, Jews inhabited a potentially precarious position, ever exposed to the whims and wishes of rulers and the resentment of the populace. Their trust in G-d as the absolute arbiter of history allowed them to endure unimaginable indignities, turning inward to concentrate on their own moral excellence. Wisse concludes that “Jews who endured the powerlessness of exile were in danger of mistaking it for a requirement of Jewish life or, worse, for a Jewish ideal.”

Indeed, some diaspora Jews express their disapproval of Israel or the Jewish community at large by lamenting this newly acquired agency, often fetishizing their people’s historic weakness, and thus fail to see the role that such powerlessness played in the suffering that has befallen the community through the ages.

With national sovereignty there’s a price to be paid in terms of responsibility for the occasional infliction of human suffering (even if unintentional) that invariably occurs as the result of even the most judicious use of national power. But in the lives of individual adults, as in the lives of nations, rarely are we afforded the luxury of making choices that will allow one to live a life of innocence, nor one which offers decisions which will result in perfect justice for all concerned.

Rather, with every serious decision in front of her, Israel must carefully weigh the costs and benefits of various policies and try to make the decision likely to result in the most positive outcome, while also taking into account how such actions will affect the safety and well-being of future generations of Israelis and the broader Jewish community.

Israel has a profound responsibility in carrying out the arduous, thankless, but morally necessary task of collective self-defense (a national vision Theodore Herzl referred to as “The Guardian of the Jews”). For Israel, in an era replete with concrete military threats and delegitimization campaigns by loosely connected political networks, an unapologetic and fiercely determined self-defense is an ethical imperative.

Protecting yourself, your family, your community, and your nation from harm should never be misconstrued as inconsistent with the highest Jewish ethical aspirations — an idea the broader Jewish community would be wise to take seriously while lamenting the suffering of so many throughout our history on Tisha B’Av.

Independent posts reflections of witty Brit who likens Israel to ‘child murdering community’

Since the start of Israel’s war with Hamas, the Independent has been competing with the Guardian to see who can most effectively demonize the Jewish state while excusing or ignoring the reactionary Islamist group running Gaza.  And, though today’s commentary in the Indy may not represent the defining contribution in this race to the moral bottom, it should at least be noted in the category of great achievements in modern manifestations of ancient anti-Jewish calumnies.

Leave it to Mark Steel, a commentator and comedian, to even outdo fellow British comedian cum anti-Israel activist Alexei Sayle – who had compared Israel to a child rapist, in a video highlighted by both the Indy and Guardian – in an op-ed titled ‘How silly of me to assume it was Israeli bombs causing all the damage in Gaza.

Here’s Steel’s attempt at mockery, likening Israelis to a community of child murderers.

In recent years most of humanity has become more tolerant of groups who once seemed to be on the margins of society. But until now it’s still been acceptable to be offensive about one minority: the child murdering community.

At last it seems the mood is changing, and finally we’re beginning to hear the child murderers’ point of view.

Steel, again evoking the Israeli child murderer theme, mocks Israeli ‘claims’ that Hamas uses Palestinian non-combatants, including children, as human shields to protect their fighters and to score PR victories by the resulting civilian casualties – a strategy that Hamas spokesmen (and some  journalists in Gaza) have openly acknowledged.

Benjamin Netanyahu spoke out for child murderers’ civil rights by informing us the Palestinians deliberately arrange the “telegenically dead” to be filmed, to attract sympathy. So it seems Hamas stroll round bomb sites, placing the prettiest corpses on view for film crews, otherwise we’d all think “it doesn’t matter that the Israelis killed that kid, he was an ugly little bastard anyway”.

Steele then alludes to Israeli ‘ethnic cleansing’.

As the bombing continues I expect we’ll hear more reasons why the Palestinians are to blame for being bombed. An Israeli minister will say, “These people in Gaza are always complaining that they live in a densely populated area, so we’re trying to help them out by reducing the population as much as we can to give them more space. But they’re still not happy. Some people are never satisfied.”

In this passage, Steele actually seems to suggest that there is a dearth of inflammatory headlines about Palestinian suffering in the media.

In less enlightened times, those responsible for such murder would be snarled at in the street and their pictures displayed on newspapers under inflammatory headlines. But thankfully we’re growing more liberal, and can only regret that more thought wasn’t given to treating murderers kindly in the past.

Steele then evokes the crimes of Fred West, the British serial killer who, over a span of twenty or so  years, tortured and raped scores of young women and girls.

Poor Fred West, for example, instead of barely being given a chance to make his case, could have sat in television studios saying, “Of course I regret the deaths of civilians. But you have to understand these people I murdered could be a bloody nuisance. I was lured into killing them, and I’m not even sure I did kill them until I’ve carried out my own investigation. Some of them kill themselves to get sympathy by booby-trapping their ironing boards, you know

Steele finishes with the following flourish, evidently incredulous in the face of widespread evidence that Hamas uses mosques, schools and clinics to hide rockets and other military hardware.

As times change, maybe Netanyahu and his spokesmen will become more forthright, and organise “Child Murderer Pride” in which child murderers can get together for a procession and carnival, where they can at last feel safe, and no longer feel looked down on for carrying out their basic human right to bomb a school to bits.

Though I must admit to at times being tone-deaf to British humour, I have enough experience deciphering the musings of the pseudo ‘sophisticated’ liberal left in the UK to deduce that the witty Brit who penned the Indy column honestly believes that political and military leaders of the Jewish State – perhaps just for kicks, or maybe motivated by some sadistic homicidal fantasy – intentionally murders innocent children.

No doubt it was lost on Steel – who evidently sees nothing to remotely offensive, yet alone mockable, in calls by Hamas’s religious and political leaders to literally exterminate the Jews  – that his meme regarding ‘Jewish blood lust’ comports perfectly with a decidedly medieval element of the Palestinian Islamist group’s historically familiar propaganda campaign.

Chris McGreal: The worst Guardian journalist

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.

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.

bibi

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 screamingDeath 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.

Guardian publishes letters legitimizing terrorism & evoking Israel-Nazi analogy

Before posting two of the letters that Guardian editors decided to publish, on July 30, first let’s look at the headline.

headline

Again, remember that these are not simply comments below the line, but letters to the editor that Guardian editors believed had merit, and provided “historical context” to help understand the conflict.

Moral justification of Palestinian terrorism / Genocide charge.

letter 1

A few observations: First, the letter is comparing Israel’s war against Hamas (and, presumably their conflict with the Palestinians more broadly) with genocides in the Balkans, Rwanda and Sudan.  However, what particularly stands out is the implicit justification of Palestinian terrorism. Of course, we should remember that the Guardian has, on several occasions, amplified and legitimized voices which justified, on moral grounds, the Palestinians’ right to murder Israelis.

  • In 2011, the Guardian published a letter by a British philosophy professor which explicitly defended the right of Palestinians to murder Israeli civilians in terror attacks – an editorial decision which was actually defended by their readers’ editor following the uproar which ensued.
  • Also in 2011, the Guardian editorialized about the ‘Arab Spring’, and actually praised the Palestinians for launching intifadas.
  • In 2012, during the war in Gaza, Associate Editor Seumas Milne wrote an op-ed  of Hamas terrorists to launch terror attacks against Israelis, and argued that Israel has no such moral right to defend itself.
  • On July 16, 2014, Seumas Milne again revisited the same topic in a column about the current war in Gaza, and reiterated his belief that Palestinians have the right to engage in deadly acts of terrorism, while Israelis have no such right to defend themselves against Hamas.
  • On July 25th, a Guardian journalist and British priest named Giles Fraser published a column which defended, on moral grounds, ‘just’ acts of Palestinian terrorism.

We should point out that there is absolutely no international law which legally codifies the right to commit terrorism.

Israel-Nazi analogy

There was one more letter worth examining, one which evoked Nazi Germany in contextualizing Israeli crimes.

second letter

We have deconstructed such comparisons in the past, but let’s suggest to Mr. McCulloch that the only relevant analogy to Nazi Germany in the current conflict is that the world is once again silent in the face of expressions of openly genocidal Jew-hatred by Islamist extremists such as Hamas.  And, if anyone out there believes our characterization of Hamas is over-the-top, here’s a speech delivered by Mahmoud al-Zahar, senior leader and co-founder of the group, on Al-Aqsa TV in 2010:

If you’d like a more recent example, here’s Hamas’s Friday Sermon which aired on Al Aqsa TV on July 25th.

Of course, as anyone who has taken the time to look at sites such as Palestinian Media Watch and MEMRI would surely know, homicidal (and often genocidal) antisemitism is not the exception within Palestinian society.

Those in the Western media who legitimize narratives suggesting that Israelis are engaged in a project akin to genocide against Palestinians, thus justifying acts of violent resistance, are engaging in a profound historical inversion – blinded perhaps by a far-left ideology which can’t morally distinguish between antisemitic extremists and the Jews they’re trying to kill. 

 

Never Again: Jews don’t need lessons in morality from John Prescott

Last year David Ward MP decided to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day by grossly debasing Holocaust memory. He published a post on his website which included the following passage:

Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.

Though he later issued a pseudo apology, subsequent statements and Tweets by the Liberal Democrat from Bradford East suggest that his imperious lecturing to Jews about their myriad deficiencies represents his true views.

Now, just a few days ago, the British tabloid The Daily Mirror published an op-ed by former British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott titled, Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is a war crime and it should end.

prescott

John Prescott

His op-ed included the following charges.

Those who live in Gaza are kept like prisoners behind walls and fences, unable to escape the bombings, and an Israeli economic blockade has forced Palestinians into poverty.

Israel’s Iron Dome defence system easily intercepts missiles launched from Gaza. Three Israeli citizens have died from these ­primitive rockets, with 32 soldiers killed fighting Hamas.

Compare that to the toll in Gaza. Of the 1,000-plus to die, more than 80 per cent were ­civilians, mostly women and children.

But who is to say some of the other 20 per cent weren’t ­innocent too? Israel brands them terrorists but it is acting as judge, jury and ­executioner in the ­concentration camp that is Gaza.

And Israel flouts international law by continuing to build illegal Jewish settlements. Why? Because it knows it can get away with it.

As if the grotesque and appallingly misinformed accusation that Israel is keeping Palestinians in a “concentration camp” isn’t bad enough, Prescott then doubles down on his Holocaust inversion, and asserts the following:

What happened to the Jewish people at the hands of the Nazis is appalling. But you would think those atrocities would give Israelis a unique sense of perspective and empathy with the victims of a ghetto.

While his concentration camp comparison is contemptible, the “they-of-all-people” argument – the suggestion that Jews, having faced unimaginable persecution during the Holocaust, should know better than anyone not to be oppressors – is arguably much, much worse.

As Howard Jacobson argued about critics who lecture Jews on their sub-par post-Shoah moral performance:

“[For such people] the Holocaust becomes an educational experience from which Jews were ethically obliged to graduate summa cum laude, Israel being the proof that they didn’t.” 

But, I think the most eloquent refutation of such criticism leveled at Jews was written by Chas Newkey-Burden, who argued that those who employ the “they of all people” argument are essentially saying that, following the systematic extermination of six million, it is Jews, and not the antisemites, who have lessons to learn – that it is Jews, not the antisemites, who need to clean up their act.

One thing is certain: Jews do not need lessons in morality from John Prescott.

Finally, at at time when Israel is fighting a war with an extremist movement which openly calls for a new genocide; when synagogues are being attacked and the chant of ‘Death to Jews’ can be heard in ‘enlightened’ capitals in Europe; and when Jews are again fleeing the continent in fear of persecution, perhaps non-Jews who have previously mouthed the words ‘never again’ should think seriously about what precisely this ethical imperative demands.