The Guardian, BBC and Mona Lisa’s Nose

A guest post by Joe Geary

Guess what this is?

mona

Did you get it? Well done, yes, it’s the Middle East as represented by large segments of the media, including the Guardian and BBC.

Well actually no. It’s Mona Lisa’s nose. But you get the picture, or rather, you don’t. You just get a tiny part of it.

There is a basic principle in the fields of semiotics and sociolinguistics, known as “framing”. It is well-known that the way a story is framed will influence how it is received by an audience.  It is equally uncontroversial that framings are not natural and preordained, that whoever is telling the story has a choice of various framings and the choice that is taken gives a significant insight into how we should evaluate both the story and the storyteller.

Returning to the original analogy, the problem with the Guardian-BBC coverage of the Middle East is that we don’t get a frame at all. We don’t even get much of the painting.

They make a conscious choice to remove as much context as possible to depict the Israel-Palestinian relationship, firstly, as entirely conflictual. Whenever do we hear of the many collaborative projects, or the Israeli aid work in the Territories or the health care available to Palestinians in Israeli hospitals? Secondly it is projected as the greatest conceivable imbalance. One side has all the power imaginable, the other side is utterly disempowered.

And thirdly, it is simplistically but seductively presented as white hat versus black hat, or rather, white race against black, or at least brown. The Israelis are depicted as Westerners and so metaphorically white (what a mutation – from swarthy Semites to Nordic Aryans in just two generations). Meanwhile the Palestinians, being Arabs, must be metaphorically a “brown” people. And so we are left with an ugly narrative of racial supremacism, provoking a delicious frisson of outrage among viewers and readers.

Finally, the relationship is stripped of all historical context. Cruel Goliath just woke up one day and decided to occupy and oppress his poor downtrodden neighbour. First of all, to steal his land and then, who knows, to drive him out completely. In this framing the Palestinian “cause” is quite simply freedom and any means of throwing off the oppressor’s yoke is justified, even the most violent.

But let’s try looking at the whole painting in its regional context. The Guardian-BBC could frame this Middle East conflict as that of a tiny country which has had to fight for its survival in three wars of aggression and has been subjected to 65 years of ferocious terrorism, but which miraculously continues to flourish as a democracy with full respect for the rule of law – and all this in a region brimming with violence, tyranny and hate. In this framing, we would require an exchange of hats. Israel is engaged in defensive resistance against enemies who wish to destroy her simply because she is different; she is democratic – dangerously contagious – she is modern and above all she is not Arab-Muslim. In this framing it is no longer clear quite who is the Goliath but it’s quite clear who is the bully and who the victim. And in an Arab Middle East where not only Jews but also the Kurds and Christians are all persecuted victims of Arab-Muslim rejectionism of the “other”, it becomes clear that it isn’t Israel who should be in the UN dock for apartheid racism.

Or we might try a third framing. The Palestinians and their cause are stoked and stroked and embraced by the big power players in the region, Iran, Syria, Turkey and the Gulf States, for the most cynical of self-serving reasons. Firstly, to bolster their soft-power prestige in the Arab world, and secondly to distract the internal populations from the humiliations they suffer at the hands of their rulers. The real Middle-Eastern conflict, as is now becoming clear, is between Shia-dominated Iran, plus its Syrian puppet, and the rest of the Sunni-dominated Arab world. The Palestinians are a very useful pawn in this game. And note that this support is never for a reasonable negotiated peace with Israel. Instead the Palestinians are spurred on to seek some improbable military victory in which Israel is brought to its knees or, better still, every last Jew is driven from the Middle East. Make no mistake, both Sunnis and Shias are happy to fight Israel to the last drop of Palestinian blood and the last thing they want to see is peace. This is a rather different Palestinian “cause” from the one sold daily by the BBC and Guardian.

But wait. I’m being unfair. We do sometimes see this:

mona

What’s this? Why yes it’s the Jewish lobby. The only part of the frame we’re regularly shown. How often are we told that US support for Israel is the result solely of the shadowy but immense power of US Jews and their piles of gold? It couldn’t possibly be that Israel is a democracy under the rule of law and that not supporting Israel would be a dereliction of every value the US professes to believe in. No, perish that thought.

And why do we never see this?

mona

Well done again. Yes, it’s the Arab lobby. The Saudi, the Qatari, the Emirates lobbies – now there is serious money – who not only work Washington lavishly and spend billions on US arms, but bribe media outlets with advertising income and fund universities throughout the West (the Gaddafi Foundation, remember that?) so that ubiquitous “Middle-Eastern studies” are properly pro-Arab and anti-Israel.

One last word on the land-stealing Goliath meme so popular with the BBC and Guardian. As so often documented on this blog, the vast majority of those evil settlements, aka “the obstacle to peace”, are actually built on land which in any reasonable future agreement would be part of land swaps and end up as part of Israel.

So, Guardian, BBC, in the future let’s see the whole picture in a proper frame. She’s famous for her enigmatic smile.

It’s probably because she “nose” what you two deliberate simpletons are up to.

If this pun is too horrible then:

It’s probably because she’s sussed what you two deliberate simpletons are up to.

(Joe Geary is an Anglo-Irish author and academic and occasional contributor to the CiF Watch and BBC Watch blogs. With a professional background in sociolionguistics and political science and a special interest in the language of prejudice, he writes about the increasing demonization of Israel in parts of the mainstream British media.)

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Phoebe Greenwood’s polemical caricature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

1612We’ve recently commended Harriet Sherwood for her modest improvements in covering the region, and in taking the first tentative steps towards giving voice to the legitimate concerns of Israelis as well as Palestinians. Specifically, we noted that Sherwood, the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent, recently began seeking comment from mainstream Israelis, rather than simply those representing the far-left, thus enabling her readers to better understand the political dynamics at play in the Israeli -Palestinian Conflict.

Unfortunately, we can’t say the same for Phoebe Greenwood, who has filled in for Sherwood for over a month while she was away.  Greenwood, as with so many ‘journavists’, seems to see her role, in a manner consistent with the au courant post-colonial politics of her day, as providing a voice to the powerless – a binary paradigm which, in ignoring the broader Israeli-Arab and Israeli-Islamist regional conflict, necessarily tailors her reports in a manner which show Palestinians in the best possible light.  Israelis, when they enter the picture at all, are often crude caricatures – a recognizable Goliath in each chapter of the tale she conjures.

Greenwood’s latest report, ‘Palestinian buy land to protect future state and generations‘, March 18, is ostensibly a story about Palestinians purchasing land in the West Bank to secure their presence in the region.  However, such land acquisition is framed as merely a part in a larger Israeli-Palestinian struggle for territory, which she believes defines the conflict – a battle for over 5,000 sq kilometers of real estate in Judea and Samaria which, she claims, Israel is winning.

Israel, according to Greenwood, is winning the war for land by unfairly building “illegal” settlements.  In an effort to explain Israeli motivations for such ‘land grabs’, she adds the following:

Many Israeli Jews believe they have a God-given right to settle anywhere in the biblical land of Israel. Others justify the defiance of international law on the grounds of national security or argue that Arabs cannot be trusted.

This, evidently, represents Greenwood’s conception of Israeli Jews: Violators of international law motivated by religious fundamentalism and racism.

Whilst it’s nice that Greenwood also mentioned Israeli national security concerns, her lazy generalization fails to even address the fact that many Israelis (and many legal scholars) don’t believe that living in Judea and Samaria is ‘illegal’, as their political justification for their presence is supported by Jewish history and, more importantly, codified legally by the Mandate for Palestine – an international adjudication which has never been abrogated.

However, more toxic than Greenwood’s imputation of outlaw status to Israelis who live in communities on the other side of the 1949 armistice lines is the casual accusation of racism – representing a staggering moral inversion given Arab belligerence throughout Israel’s nearly 65 years of existence.

Though the breezy dismissal of Israeli concerns that a deal with the Palestinians, which potentially would remove hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes, may not in fact deliver peace, represents somewhat of the norm amongst even those in the media who claim to empathize with Zionism, the suggestion that such fears are inspired by anti-Arab racism is at best intellectually lazy, and arguably an indication of a broader malevolence.

Israeli Jews who are skeptical of Palestinian peace overtures are rationally responding to several different, though related, historical and political realities.

First, Israeli caution over the possibilities for peace are based, in part, on an understanding of most of the Arab world’s continuing refusal to accept, or in any way normalize relations with, the Jewish state within any borders – a concern only heightened by the ascendancy of Islamism since the start of the ‘Arab Spring’.

Second, Israelis have learned important lessons from the failures of Oslo, and, especially, their withdrawals from South Lebanon and Gaza – the latter representing a perfect cautionary tale regarding the danger of assuming the validity of the ‘land for peace’ formula , or even that Israeli presence in “occupied” land represents the main cause of Arab hostility.

Finally, to address Greenwood’s specific accusation, Israeli concerns over the sincerity of Arab leaders’ putative calls for peace are motivated, in part, by a sober understanding of the pervasive antisemitism among the overwhelming majority of citizens in the Arab world.  Israelis are aware of the state-sponsored hate spewing from Ramallah, Gaza City, Cairo, and Damascus, and understand intuitively that true peace can only be achieved when their neighbors begin to embrace truly liberal values – not merely in rejecting antisemitism, but by adopting democratic norms, treating women, gays and religious minorities with respect, and beginning to nurture a culture of self-criticism.

The path to peace in the region will be a long and arduous one, but must begin with a West, and Western media, that is just as demanding of the Arab world as they are of the Jewish state.  Such moral consistency would of course require the rejection of old, tired and destructive ideologies which place groups, a priori, in arbitrary categories of victim and oppressor – expecting little from the former and everything from the latter.

Until such a moral and journalistic revolution within the mainstream media occurs, however, we can expect stringers like Phoebe Greenwood to continue failing to hold a mirror to a sclerotic Arab political culture which represents a nearly impenetrable barrier to peace and progress in the Middle East.

Why did the Guardian change a headline originally suggesting Hamas culpability?

Nabila Ramdani’s essay at ‘Comment is Free’ (Israel’s Gaza bombardment has put Palestine at the top of the agenda, Nov. 23), about the aftermath of the Gaza war arrives  at quite predictable conclusions about the war’s effect on the region.

After offering a soft critique of “Rockets being fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip” (remember these words) and “the bombing of a bus [in Tel Aviv]“, Ramdani writes that Palestinians in Gaza are an “oppressed, forsaken people” who were “killed and maimed by the Israeli bombardment of Gaza”, which she characterizes as the US backed “Israeli war machine.” She further suggests that Israeli behavior in the war was “barbaric”.

Ramdani contextualizes the violence in a manner suggesting that the Palestinian casualties during the war has placed the ‘Palestine’ question in the front of the Arab Spring agenda:

The oppression of the Palestinian people regains its status as the most pressing problem in the Arab world today. [emphasis added]

This claim, however, is simply risible in light of the events she chooses to ignore: the daily murder and brutality in Syria which has claimed over 40,000 lives, or the increasingly dictatorial powers assumed by Egypt’s new President (dashing the hopes that anything resembling a democracy will take hold in that country) and the extreme poverty, underdevelopment and political backwardness which plagues the region.   

If the Arabs decide that continuing to feed their malign obsession with Israel is more important than the requirements of their own political progress, it will have signaled that the Arab Spring has failed miserably.

As thoughtful critics have maintained since the uprisings have begun, democracy is more than elections and revolutions. Democracy is a cultural habit which must be nurtured and, even in the best of circumstances, requires time to take root within the body politic.  In the Arab world true liberal democracy will require that they find a way to  stop scapegoating Jews and Israel and take responsibility for their failures and disappointments.

The decision by a plurality of Palestinians in 2006 to vote for Hamas – a religious extremist movement opposed to human rights and democracy, and opposed to peace with Israel – was a politically destructive act, and represented further evidence of the social and political pathos plaguing their society.

Every rocket fired by Hamas at Israel, and every attempted cross border attack or effort to kidnap Israeli soldiers represents continuing impediments to peace, Palestinian development, prosperity and freedom.  

The continued attacks by Hamas also ensure an Israeli response, which, in turn, takes the media focus away from Hamas’s failures and onto the desired narrative of ‘Israeli oppression’ of Palestinians. 

Interestingly, the original title of Ramdani’s piece implicitly acknowledged the cynical exploitation by Hamas.

First, here’s how it looks now:

However, here’s a cached version of the original title, published on Friday and evidently revised on Saturday.

The truce between Hamas and Israel would suggest that the rockets will be quieted for a while, but don’t expect the peace to last too long.  

Hamas’s temptation to engage in aggression which they know will end up sacrificing the lives of Palestinians, thus ensuring sympathetic coverage from a pliant media which wants desperately to avoid holding Palestinians responsible for their own failures, will be too great to resist. 

Do you support Arab progress? Then, listen to genuine Arab liberals & reject Guardian’s analysis.

“On the anniversary of the 1973 War between the Arab and the Israelis, many people in the Arab world are beginning to ask many questions about the past, present and the future with regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The questions now are: What was the real cost of these wars to the Arab world and its people. And the harder question that no Arab national wants to ask is: What was the real cost for not recognizing Israel in 1948 and why didn’t the Arab states spend their assets on education, health care and the infrastructures instead of wars?” [emphasis added]

Who wrote these words, as part of a longer essay?  A CiF Watch contributor? A conservative British columnist? An Israeli?

No.

It was written by a retired Saudi Navy Commodore named Abdulateef Al-Mulhim, and published at Arab News.

Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.

Not only is there a severe dearth of Arab commentators willing to ask such difficult questions, but Western media gatekeepers (at the Guardian and elsewhere) seem to believe that Arab “authenticity” requires that blame for Arab political, social and economic problems continue to be place squarely on Israel.  

I’m overstating the case, you say? Well, try to find more than a handful of Arab or Muslim (or European leftist) contributors at ‘Comment is Free’ who have suggested that the Arabs should have accepted partition in 1948, and recognized and cooperated with the nascent Jewish state instead of launching war.

Al-Muhim continues:

“But, the hardest question that no Arab national wants to hear is whether Israel is the real enemy of the Arab world and the Arab people.”

Engaging in such honest critical scrutiny of the Arab world’s malign obsession with the Jewish state is something which is almost never undertaken by Guardian commentators, reporters and analysts.

Al-Muhim continues:

“I decided to write this article after I saw photos and reports about a starving child in Yemen, a burned ancient Aleppo souk in Syria, the under developed Sinai in Egypt, car bombs in Iraq and the destroyed buildings in Libya. 

The common thing among all what I saw is that the destruction and the atrocities are not done by an outside enemy. The starvation, the killings and the destruction in these Arab countries are done by the same hands that are supposed to protect and build the unity of these countries and safeguard the people of these countries. So, the question now is that who is the real enemy of the Arab world?”

The following passages are even more stunning:

“The Arab world wasted hundreds of billions of dollars and lost tens of thousands of innocent lives fighting Israel, which they considered is their sworn enemy, an enemy whose existence they never recognized. The Arab world has many enemies and Israel should have been at the bottom of the list.

….

The real enemies of the Arab world are corruption, lack of good education, lack of good health care, lack of freedom, lack of respect for the human lives and finally, the Arab world had many dictators who used the Arab-Israeli conflict to suppress their own people. 

These dictators’ atrocities against their own people are far worse than all the full-scale Arab-Israeli wars.

In Syria, the atrocities are beyond anybody’s imaginations? And, isn’t the Iraqis are the ones who are destroying their own country? Wasn’t it Tunisia’s dictator who was able to steal 13 billion dollars from the poor Tunisians? And how can a child starve in Yemen if their land is the most fertile land in the world? Why would Iraqi brains leave Iraq in a country that makes 110 billion dollars from oil export? Why do the Lebanese fail to govern one of the tiniest countries in the world? And what made the Arab states start sinking into chaos?”

Al-Mulhim concludes, thus:

Finally, if many of the Arab states are in such disarray, then what happened to the Arabs’ sworn enemy (Israel)? Israel now has the most advanced research facilities, top universities and advanced infrastructure. Many Arabs don’t know that the life expectancy of the Palestinians living in Israel is far longer than many Arab states and they enjoy far better political and social freedom than many of their Arab brothers. Even the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip enjoy more political and social rights than some places in the Arab World. Wasn’t one of the judges who sent a former Israeli president to jail is an Israeli-Palestinian? 

The Arab Spring showed the world that the Palestinians are happier and in better situation than their Arab brothers who fought to liberate them from the Israelis. Now, it is time to stop the hatred and wars and start to create better living conditions for the future Arab generations. [emphasis added]

And, isn’t it about time that Western commentators stop indulging the worst impulses of the Arab world, and cease in allowing Arab leaders to scapegoat their vexing social problems on Jews, Israel and the West?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if ‘Comment is Free’ occasionally published commentary by the likes of Mr. Al-Mulhim, and others, demanding that the Arab world take steps to overcome their reflexive antisemitism and their socially crippling anti-Zionism, to cease scapegoating and to begin to soberly address the real problems they’re facing.  

A genuine movement for Arab progress, freedom and prosperity would necessarily strive to achieve the following goals:

  • Adopt true democratic reforms, and develop transparent government institutions.
  • Recognize that Islamism is necessarily incompatible with free, prosperous, tolerant and liberal society.
  • Abolish UNRWA and grant Palestinian Arabs who fled the 1948 War (and their descendants) full citizenship in the Arab states where they’re currently living.
  • Grant equal rights to Arab women, and begin to overcome a culture of misogyny which denies half of their population fundamental freedom, and denies their countries the potential benefit of full female economic participation.
  • Promote tolerance towards gays and lesbians. 
  • Stop persecuting Christians and other religious minorities, accept Arab responsibility for the ethnic cleansing of 900,000 Jews from Arab lands, and, more broadly, slowly begin embracing the values of tolerance and diversity.
  • Recognize Israel and strategize on how best to benefit from social economical and political cooperation with the Jewish state.
  • And, finally, begin to rid their culture of their endemic Judeophobia. 

Do I expect any of these changes to occur any time soon, or for the Guardian to begin holding Muslims and Arabs accountable to such genuinely liberal standards?

No, of course not, given their continuing identification, or at least sympathy, with the most reactionary voices in the region.

However, the promotion of such long-term political objectives should at least represent a litmus test of sorts for those claiming sympathy towards the Arab and Muslim world.

If you want to know how best to advocate for hundreds of millions of Arabs – at least those genuinely supporting a real democratic “Spring” – you can begin by reviewing the Guardian’s coverage of the region and adopting a political persuasion based on the complete opposite of what you read.

Antisemitism without Jews: What Egyptian soccer fans’ Holocaust chants say about the ‘Arab Spring’

Those of us suspicious of the liberalism imputed to movements leading the Arab upheavals – and dismissive of the connotations associated with the term “Arab Spring” – are certainly not pro-Authoritarian. Nor, do we view the relative stability maintained by military dictators and despots which have ruled the region with anything approaching fondness or comfort.

Rather, such skepticism is merely informed by a political sobriety regarding claims that Arab societies (which, almost universally, have never known life in liberal, pluralistic societies) would suddenly embrace democratic ideals when reconstituting the laws, and systems of governments, in their respective countries.

Yet, with each ominous illiberal development reported along the Arab political road, those expressing concern with what such regressive dynamics portend for the region are either dismissed as cynics, or even racists. 

We act with alarm over the ascent of the political reactionary Muslim Brotherhood, and even more radical Salafists, in the Egyptian elections; We express concern with a new Tunisia constitution forbidding non-Muslims from seeking higher office; and we look with extreme dismay at reports that David Gerbi, (who, as a 12-year-old, was forced to flee Libya after anti-Jewish programs following the Six Day War spurred attacks on Tripoli Jews) told reporters he optimistically returned to Libya, hoping to restore a long-shuttered synagogue, only to be warned by anti-Gaddafi Libyan revolutionaries that he wasn’t welcomed and should flee.

Four men armed with rifles had come to the synagogue as he tried to enter. A man came and said, ‘You need to stop now. There are men coming with guns and you will be killed,'” said Gerbi, wearing a T-shirt emblazoned “I Love Libya”. 

The entire population of Libya’s once 40,000 strong community, which dated back to the 3rd century, had been cleansed – forced to flee by increasingly brutal anti-Jewish violence – within some 20 odd years following WWII, and yet, the ideals and spirit of the anti-Gaddafi revolution would not allow for the return of one single Jew, the opening of one solitary synagogue.

Sadly, anti-Jewish sentiment has marked the uprising against Gaddafi and its aftermath, in which graffiti invoking an alleged Jewish strand in Gaddafi’s lineage has sprung up on walls across the capital.

Antisemitism without Jews.

As I was watching the MEMRI clip of Egyptian soccer fans (in a country where less than 100 Jews remain, out of a community which once numbered 75,000) rapturously chanting continually “One nation for a new Holocaust”, posted here yesterday, a few thoughts crossed my mine.

First, it was clear that neither the Guardian nor, likely, the rest of the mainstream media, wouldn’t cover the incident.  

As with the continual explicit Arab antisemitism studiously documented by groups  such as Palestinian Media Watch and MEMRI – and which this blog often reports – news of even the most chilling and unambiguous hatred towards Jews simply isn’t part of the liberal media narrative about the Middle East.  

The Guardian devoted nearly 400 words yesterday on a report about an an Israeli MK throwing a cup of water on another MK – an institution obsessed with every conceivable Israeli flaw, and whose commentators continually frame every disagreeable piece of legislation being proposed as inconsistent with democratic values – yet rarely, if ever, deems it worth informing their readers when Palestinians honor terrorists, or incite their children to despise Jews and embrace martyrdom.

Such antisemitic phenomena in the Arab world – virulent, even eliminationist, antisemitism within the Muslim tradition which, as Colin Rubenstein wrote, predates Zionism by centuries – of course represents a threat to the several thousand remaining Jews in Arab lands, and it arguably serves as the largest single obstacle to peace in the region.  But, such racism is also vitally important to understand when analyzing the possible results of the current Arab political upheavals. 

Democracy is not a prize to be won, but, rather, a system of national values, mores and habits to be nurtured and continually defended.

The Arabs’ malign antisemitic obsession doesn’t just threaten Jews, it threatens – and represents the antithesis of – the liberal social, cultural and political traits necessary for real democracy (and a fierce societal allegiance to democratic values) to ever really take hold.

Dictators, be they secular or religious, always need an external enemy to keep control over their people, and in the decades following WWII, when former Arab colonies were given independence, anti-Zionism and antisemitism – whether informed by pan-Arabism, Arab nationalism, or Islamism – has served that role exquisitely.

Natan Sharansky believes that the truest expression of democracy is the ability to stand in the middle of a town square and express one’s views without fear of imprisonment. While this is indeed true, it also seems that a corollary of this principle is just as vital.

The temperature of a healthy democracy can often by measured by what you can say, but freely choose not to out of concern for its political toxicity, or fear of possible public opprobrium, and social disapproval – and the possible resulting loss of what sociologists refer to as “social capital”: family relations and other voluntary associations which often serve to maintain societal cohesion in a functioning democracy.

Arab nations will only truly be free, will be ready for a true liberal democratic transformation when such expressions of Judeophobia – whether in an airport in Tunis, at a soccer stadium in Egypt, during sermons by influential Islamic spiritual leaders,  in Saudi school textbooks, or on the pages of countless Arab newspapers – become socially toxic, and simply morally unacceptable. 

Perversely, Arab culture and Islamist ideology often characterize Zionism and Jews as some sort of moral albatross preventing their true aspirations from being realized when,  however, something closer to the antithesis is closer to the truth.

An Arab culture imbued with antisemitism and anti-Zionism must honestly be confronted, and overcome, for real political and social progress to be achieved.

Much like the yoke of political despotism they’re currently attempting to break free from, the injurious effects of the moral tyranny of their own racism are incalculable. 

While the liberal mainstream media’s almost universal failure to honestly confront the Arab world’s antisemitism certainly plays a role in its perpetuation, the one hopeful aspect of such intellectual bondage is that the means to overcoming it is, by definition, ultimately inside those under its grip.  It is not dependent on the actions of others.  

Beginning the process of freeing themselves from such a malign and crippling obsession is a decision which the Arab world,  and the Arab world alone, must make.

Robert Wistrich on failure of the liberal West to confront antisemitism in the Middle East

The following is an essay by Professor Robert Wistrich, the director of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and author of: A Lethal Obsession: Antisemitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad.

Essenweinstrasse Synagogue in Nuremberg, Germany, is in ruins after Kristallnacht in 1938.

Seventy-three years ago, on Nov. 9, 1938, the murderous Nazi onslaught against the German Jews began with a nationwide pogrom that smashed the fabric of their existence. Known euphemistically as “Kristallnacht” (“Crystal Night”), this state-organized orgy of violence happened in peace time. It involved the systematic burning of hundreds of synagogues, the destruction of approximately 7,500 Jewish businesses, the murder of nearly 100 Jews and the deportation of another 30,000 male Jews to German concentration camps.

It was a crucial turning-point in Hitler’s “war against the Jews,” a major signpost on the road leading to World War II, which Nazi Germany would initiate less than a year later. Already, Nazi propaganda openly warned about the imminent annihilation of Jewry through “fire and sword,” though few in the West took these threats too seriously.

Today, there is no immediate danger of a new Kristallnacht in the western world, although levels of anti-Semitism (hiding under the more acceptable mask of hostility towards Israel) have reached levels unprecedented since 1945. But in the Middle East, the hatred of Jews burns much more fiercely — both in Iran and in the Arab world. Islamist anti-Semitism, in particular, is soaked in some of the most inflammatory motifs that made the Kristallnacht atrocities possible in Nazi Germany and only three years later provided the rationale for the mass murder of European Jewry.

For example, there is the pervasive exploitation in Arabic of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, with its insistence on the reality of the “Jewish conspiracy for world domination”; there is a revival of the medieval Christian blood-libel against Jews, transplanted from Europe to the contemporary Arab-Muslim Middle East; and the mass diffusion of stereotypes about the Jews as cruel, treacherous and bloodthirsty colonialists seeking to destroy the identity and beliefs of the Muslim peoples.

The NYTreported the Nazi-inflicted damage durng Kristallnacht.

To this, one must add the slanderous but widely popular identification of Zionism with Nazism and apartheid and the “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians — a Goebbels-like propaganda lie that has also found a growing audience in the West. However contradictory it may appear to some, the Zionism-is-Nazism fabrication co-exists in the Middle East today with Holocaust denial on a broad scale.

Indeed, in Ahmadinejad’s Iran, Holocaust denial has become a state-sponsored weapon in the regime’s efforts to win over the Arab street and indoctrinate its own people with anti-Jewish toxins.

The increasingly entrenched anti-Semitism in the Arab world has not, unfortunately, been diminished by the “Arab Spring.” Earlier this year, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of the most authoritative religious leaders of the Sunni Arab world (and especially esteemed by the Muslim Brotherhood), told a million Egyptians assembled in Tahrir Square that he hoped their mission would be to complete Hitler’s work.

Al-Qaradawi, an immensely popular cleric, publicly insisted that the esteemed German Führer had been sent by Allah as a “divine punishment for the Jews.” Not long before, CBS foreign correspondent Lara Logan had been sexually assaulted and brutalized in the heart of Cairo by a mob of Egyptian men screaming “Jew, Jew, Jew.” Logan is not, in fact, Jewish.

But this aspect of her ordeal was, typically enough, very much downplayed by both the American and European media.

Read the rest of the essay, here.

 

What the Guardian won’t report: Jordanian actors boycott arts festival because head of production org is a Jew

H/T Pretzelberg

Most of the artists (and their unions) invited to perform at the 27th annual Jerash Festival of Culture and Arts, in July 2008, pulled out of the event at the last minute after it was discovered that the French production company running the festival was headed by a Jew.  No, not an Israeli, but a Jew.

We’ve reported previously on Pew Global Opinion polls conducted between 2006 and 2011 demonstrating that “moderate” Jordan is actually – even by the standards of the Arab world – one of the most antisemitic countries in the region, with 1 or 2% of Jordanians surveyed expressing favorable views towards Jews.

No, I’m not surprised.

But, it’s shameful that such news of a society imbued with such classic antisemitism is rarely if ever reported by the mainstream media – let alone by Harriet Sherwood and the Guardian.

The narrative of endemic Zionist racism is often advanced based on the most flimsy and anecdotal evidence – reports and commentary which ignore the undeniable reality of Israeli tolerance: Israeli ethnic and racial diversity, and religious freedom which stands in stark contrast with their neighbors in the region.

How then to describe a Jordanian society where hatred against Jews – not merely Israelis, but Jews anywhere in the world – is not only acceptable but is normative behavior?

This is a question, perhaps, Harriet Sherwood may want to begin asking the next time she vacations in Petra, Amman, or Aqaba.

Peace: Harriet Sherwood’s Palestinian Caricature

Israel Steals Organs. Cartoon which appeared in PA Daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadid, Jan 13, 2010

One of the seminal books on the subject of Arab anti-Semitism was Peace: The Arabian Caricature, by Arieh Stav. (The PDF is available free online, here)

The book, published in 1996, the height of the chimera of a “peace process” known as Oslo, advanced arguments about the peace talks that, though quite heterodox and counter-intuitive at the time, should, in the aftermath of the 2nd Intifada, and the refusal of “moderate” Palestinian leaders to accept increasingly generous offers by Israeli leaders (which included a contiguous Palestinian state) be uncontroversial.

Stav surveyed Arab anti-Semitic cartoons at a time of relative peace: when Israel had signed a peace treaty with Jordan, had signed a Declaration of Principles with the PLO, and had already declared its willingness to withdrawal from the Golan Heights.  That is, 1996 was a time when Israel was most receptive to making compromises in the spirit of the formula “Land for Peace” – what Shimon Peres referred to as “the painful but necessary concessions for the great reconciliation with the Arab states.”

But, as Stav observed, “a perusal of the relevant [Arabic] literature showed clearly that the basic assumptions underpinning the view…that Israeli concessions would result in Arab moderation [was] nothing more than wishful thinking.”

Israel as Death.PA Daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida June 2, 2010

Stav, citing his own research – as well of that of Bernard Lewis, Rivka Ladin, and Raphael Israeli – showed that, even after the peace accords with Egypt in 1979, there was no demonstrable decrease in the degree or volume of Arab hostility towards Israel as expressed in the media, popular culture or public opinion polls.

As Lewis has stated, “since 1945, the only place in the world where hard-core, Nazi-style anti-Semitism is officially endorsed and propagated” has been the Arab world – a conclusion, I’ve noted repeatedly, also reached more recently by Professor Robert Wistrich.

Concerning Arab anti-Semitism, Lewis argued:

“The level of hostility and the ubiquity of its expression are rarely equaled even in the European literature of anti-Semitism, which only at a few times reached this level of fear, hate and prejudice.  For parallels one needs to look at the high Middle Ages, to the literature of the Spanish Inquisition, of the anti-Dreyfusards in France, the Black Hundreds in Russia, or the Nazi Era in Germany.”

Jew Eating Dome of the Rock. Image broadcast on PA State TV, July 1, 2010

Harriet Sherwood’s recent report (Palestine: the flags are already waving but will a declaration of statehood help?, Guardian, July 16) deals largely with steps taken by the PA to “create and reinforce the institutions of a state”, acknowledges that the diplomatic hurdles to unilateral statehood, in the absence of a formal agreement with Israel, are dim – and cites, as one of the several political hurdles to such a move, the quintessential Guardian bogeyman, and obstacle to all things progressive in the Middle East, the injurious influence of the US “Israel Lobby”, which, Sherwood sagely explains, President Obama doesn’t want to risk alienating in the run up to the 2012 Elections.

Though it’s in Sherwood’s characterizations of Palestinian priorities, during the course of raising the possibility of a Third “Peaceful” Palestinian Intifada, where she cites the Palestinian public opinion poll (by Stanley Greenberg) which we cited in a recent post.

Says Sherwood:

“A recent opinion survey carried out in Gaza and the West Bank by the respected US pollster Stanley Greenberg found that at the top of the priority list for Palestinians were jobs, healthcare, water shortages and education. Mass protests against Israel, and even pursuing peace negotiations, came way down. Asked to choose, two-thirds favoured diplomatic engagement with Israel over violence.”

While the full report will be published tomorrow,  based on what was already released it’s clear that Sherwood cherry-picked the results which advance the desired narrative that she, the Guardian, and the mainstream media try so arduously to maintain – as they’ve done since Oslo (and, even prior to that, since the Camp David Accords) – of a moderate Palestinian population which seeks peace and shares the same values, and practical economic concerns, as those in the West.

Of course, among the results Sherwood evidently found too politically inconvenient to report is evidence regarding Palestinian rejectionism, extremism and support for violence. 

Specifically, to put the stats Sherwood cites, on Palestinians’ alleged preference for diplomatic rather than violent means to achieve a settlement, in context, the following would seem relevant.  Per the Jerusalem Post story on the poll:

66 percent [of Palestinians] said the Palestinians’ goal should not be a permanent two-state solution, but a two-state solution as an interim stage en route to the ultimate goal of a single Palestinian state in all the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea – a goal that amply explains their opposition to recognizing Israel as the Jewish homeland.

Asked about the fate of Jerusalem, 92 percent said it should be the capital of Palestine, 1 percent said the capital of Israel, 3 percent the capital of both, and 4 percent a neutral international city.

And, as I noted previously.

Seventy-two percent backed denying the thousands of years of Jewish history in Jerusalem, 62 percent supported kidnapping IDF soldiers and holding them hostage, and 53 percent were in favor or teaching songs about hating Jews in Palestinian schools.

Also:

When given a quote from the Hamas Charter about the need for battalions from the Arab and Islamic world to defeat the Jews, 80 percent agreed. Seventy-three percent agreed with a quote from the charter about the need to kill Jews hiding behind stones and trees.

No doubt, Sherwood had access to the same poll summary as the Jerusalem Post, and it’s evident that she simply chose not report those findings which contradict her caricature of Palestinian peace.

As we’ve demonstrated previously, the Guardian is also quite adept at using photos to illustrate their ongoing tale of Israeli villainy and Palestinian innocence.  As such, her story was accompanied with the following image:

And, really.  Isn’t it evident that only the most cynical Zionists, and those possessing a heart of stone, could possibly have any serious doubts that a Palestinian society which includes innocent flag-waving children genuinely desires peace?   

Seumas Milne’s dark embrace

We’re all too familiar with Guardian Associate Editor Seumas Milne’s brand of far-left, anti-West extremism: his apologias for communist totalitarianism; his malevolence towards Israel, as well as his open support for “resistance” movements in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Gaza.

So, while his warning against Western military intervention in Libya in yesterday’s CiF (Intervention in Libya would poison the Arab revolution) didn’t break any new ideological ground, it’s certainly worth noting the following passage:

The embattled US-backed Yemeni president Ali Abdallah Saleh claimed on Tuesday that the region-wide protest movement was “managed by Tel Aviv and under the supervision of Washington”. That is easily dismissed as a hallucinogenic fantasy now. It would seem less so if the US and Britain were arming the Libyan opposition. [emphasis mine]

That such a vile anti-Israel conspiracy theory – positing the existence of a powerful and sinister Jewish state secretly pulling the political strings in the region – can gain traction in the Arab world is sadly all too predictable, but the banality of such a narrative shouldn’t blind us to the political pathos which it feeds.

As such, when Milne argues that military intervention by the U.S. and Britain would grant such a conspiracy theory greater credibility, its hard not to conclude that he’s suggesting that such intervention could reasonably be interpreted as evidence in support of such a conspiracy.

If Seumas Milne truly supports, in even the broadest sense, political progress in the Arab world, he’d be using his considerable influence to disabuse the Arab world of anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories – institutional racism and scapegoating which poisons their societies and stunts real progress – not lending credibility to such fantastical notions about the corrupting influence of Jews and Israel on their lives.

While there is no shortage of such extreme ideologically driven agendas at the Guardian, its important to note that Milne’s embrace of the most malevolent political forces in the world truly places him in a league of his own.

Ethnic Cleansing, real and imagined

“Historically, there was an exchange of populations in the Middle East and the number of displaced Jews exceeds the number of Palestinian Arab refugees. Most of the Jews were expelled as a result of an open policy of anti-Semitic incitement and even ethnic cleansing. However, unlike the Arab refugees, the Jews who fled are a forgotten case because of a combination of international cynicism and domestic Israeli suppression of the subject. The Palestinians are the only group of refugees out of the more than one hundred million who were displaced after World War II who have a special UN agency that, according to its mandate, cannot but perpetuate their tragedy. An open debate about the exodus of the Jews is critical for countering the Palestinian demand for the “right of return” and will require a more objective scrutiny of the myths about the origins of the Arab-Israeli conflict.” – Avi Becker

The Israelis are the worst ethnic cleansers on the planet.  They have consistently, throughout their 62 year history – despite its dastardly desire (according to its critics) to cleanse the state of its non-Jewish citizens - allowed the Arab/Muslim community to grow exponentially throughout the years.

However, the insidious charge of ethnic cleansing against Israel at the Guardian is so frequent its become a banality. Ben White, Gideon Levy, Seth FreedmanNeve Gordon, Daphna BaramKen Livingstone and others casually employ such vitriol.

Most recently, a letter was published in CiF by serial Israel haters, again leveling the charge of ethnic cleansing, imploring Labor’s new leader, Ed Miliband, to break from tradition and withdraw his support for the Jewish National Fund.  The open letter was signed by (among others) Tony GreensteinProfessor Moshe Machover, and Professor Mona Baker.

Ethnic Cleansing” is typically described as the planned deliberate removal from a specific territory, persons of a particular ethnic group, by force or intimidation.

Indeed, such a definition perfectly describes the expulsion of Jews from Arab countries between 1948 and 1967.

In April 2008 a bipartisan resolution (H. Con. Res. 185) passed the U.S. Congress that recognized the forgotten exodus of nine hundred thousand Jews from Arab countries who “were forced to flee and in some cases brutally expelled amid coordinated violence and anti-Semitic incitement that amounted to ethnic cleansing.”

Between the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and the Six Day War in 1967, there was a mass Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim lands, Jews  that either fled from persecution and anti-Semitism or were forcibly expelled.  They were ethnically cleansed from their homeland. Most migrated to Israel, where today, they and their descendants constitute about 40% of Israel’s population.

In all, (approximately) there were 856,000 Jews living in Arab countries in 1948, while today the population is about 5100.  That means that over 99% of Arab Jews have been cleansed from Arab lands.


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What the Guardian Won’t Print (2010 Arab Opinion Poll Contradicts Progressive Views)

A comprehensive new poll on Arab Public Opinion was released today, and the results contradict many of the progressive media’s strongly held beliefs about issues such as anti-Americanism, Arab support for radical leaders, and their attitudes towards Jews.  So it is likely that the Guardian will ignore it completely.

The 2010 Arab Public Opinion Poll was conducted June 29th to July 20th in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, by the University of Maryland, in conjunction with Zogby International.  Among the findings, as you’ll see in below graphics, were that support for President Obama, and America more broadly, has decreased to the point where the Arab views aren’t much different from what they were under President Bush.

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How long before it’s deleted?

How long do you think this comment on this thread will last?
 
Nachman
27 Aug 09, 5:06pm

 

What I love about this site is unmoderated quotes like “Israel is an apartheid state” no facts no evidence just the statement. The very epithet of calling Israel an apartheid state is in fact a racist slur againt the Jews and is pure and simple anti-semitism. Those who repeat the mantra think that by using the word Israel they somehow are safe but since your false allegation is made against the Jews of the Jewish State it is as anti-Semitic as calling me a dirty Jew because that is what you mean.

 

Over one and half million Arabs live in Israel with the same right to vote as the Jews – what right to vote do Jews living in Jordan or Syria or Egypt have to vote – oh silly me the Jews were ethnically cleansed from Jordan Egypt Syria etc etc and will be from any future Palestinian State should one ever be formed so which side adopts racist apartheid policies?

Or what about “Israel has stolen Palestinian land” – who are the “Palestinians” this claim is made about and what country was it that that has been stolen from? No facts, no evidence. Was there ever a separate Arab nation before Arafat and Nasser called them Palestinian in 1964? Was the land to the West of the Jordan ever a sovereign state called Palestine. Consult your history books. Making up lies and getting useful muppets to repeat them as loud and as often as you like does not make them the truth.