Harriet Sherwood audaciously suggests that Palestinians have abandoned terror

One of the many articles published in early November by the Guardian about the Swiss report on the death of Yasser Arafat concluding that the late Palestinian leader was likely poisoned – a theory contradicted by a subsequent  French report - was penned by Harriet Sherwood, and titled Arafat polonium find likely to be another hurdle for peace talks.  

Sherwood’s story strangely argued that the Swiss findings were “likely to worsen the already corrosive atmosphere of the faltering peace negotiations and fuel popular demands that the Palestinian leadership walk out”, and, we noticed after reviewing the article again, this even more curious conclusion about Palestinians.

Arafat was a man who divided the world: revered by Palestinians and their supporters, reviled by Israel and its allies. Nine years after his death, a portrait of him still hangs in most Palestinian homes. Nonetheless, the Palestinian people have inevitably moved on. Acts of violence, espoused by Arafat, are rare in the West Bank, and rocket fire from Gaza has dropped; instead, the Palestinian leadership has invested its hopes in diplomacy and negotiations.

The broad suggestion that Palestinians have largely abandoned Arafat’s ‘strategy’ of terrorism represents an almost staggering distortion based on empirical data on the quantity of terror attacks since his death.  (In 2005 alone, 2,990 Palestinian terror attacks were recorded.)  Further, though such attacks have decreased overall in comparison to the height of the 2nd Intifada, this reduction is largely attributed to the construction of Israel’s security fence and more effective counter-terror measures, not changing Palestinian attitudes towards terror.

Additionally, Sherwood’s claim that “acts of violence…are rare in the West Bank” is also simply not true.  As BBC Watch’s Hadar Sela recently reported, “statistics provided by the ISA [Israel Security Agency] for the months July to November 2013 shows that the number of terror attacks taking place in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] and Jerusalem since the renewal of direct negotiations between Israel and the PLO on July 29th has more than doubled”. 

Terror incidents since July, 2013.

Sherwood’s additional claim that “rocket fire from Gaza has dropped” is also extremely misleading.  As the graph below on rocket attacks from Gaza demonstrates, rocket attacks from Gaza increased dramatically since Arafat’s death in 2004 (and Hamas’s control of the Strip in 2006).   While rocket attacks did decrease following the Gaza war (Cast Lead) in 2008-09, they increased again each year after the conflict until Israel launched an eight-day war in November 2012 (Pillar of Defense).

graphBeyond the statistical evidence contradicting Sherwood’s specific claims, it’s hard to understand how anyone covering the region as long as she has could possibly come to the conclusion that Palestinians have in any way abandoned terrorism.  In addition to the Palestinians’ glorification of terrorists, a comprehensive report on Arab public opinion by Pew Global in September demonstrated that “support for suicide bombing and other violence aimed at civilian targets is most widespread in the Palestinian territories“.  A staggering 62% of Palestinian Muslims, per this poll, believe that such attacks “are often or sometimes justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies”.

pal terrorism supportThough we’ve, on occasion, noted reports by Sherwood which suggest a modest amount of improvement in her coverage of the region, the amount of disinformation conveyed in those two sentences we cited (on Palestinian attitudes towards terror) again reminds us that her pro-Palestinian sympathies will trump a sincere commitment to accuracy almost every time.

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

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

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

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

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

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The Independent, Nov. 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are a few facts:

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

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

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

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Photo of Israeli terror victims (Algamor)

“I am going to start an Intifada.”

The narrative regarding the deadly terrorist attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11, 2012, which the MSM and the Guardian advanced, but which soon was proved to be completely erroneous, suggested that an obscure anti-Muslim film – which, it was claimed, was produced by an Israeli Jew – triggered a “spontaneous” protest outside the embassy, leading to an assault which left four people dead, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

It soon became apparent that the film – which was actually created by a Coptic Christian – had absolutely nothing to do with the attack.  

It is now known that the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was a premeditated act of terrorism committed by al Qaeda-linked terrorists.

On September 28, 2000, an Israeli Jew was blamed for inciting what would become known as the Al-Aqsa Intifada – a brutal five-year campaign of Palestinian terrorism, directed largely against Jewish civilians, which claimed over 1,100 innocent lives and injured thousands more.

The Intifada was defined by the hideous tactic of suicide bombing, in which the Palestinian terrorists detonated explosive belts in crowded public places (in order to maximize the loss of life), sending thousands of pieces of shrapnel tearing into human limbs and organs. 

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On March 27, 2002, a Palestinian suicide bomber named Abdel-Basset Odeh murdered 30 people at a Seder meal at the Park Hotel in Netanya, including several Holocaust survivors

Most who truly understand the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict would have known already that Yasser Arafat started the Second Intifada, but the latest admission by Arafat’s widow, Suha, about the origins of the Intifada – which she similarly acknowledged last year – serves to completely discredit those who continue denying the obvious.

Suha Arafat in an interview in December on Dubai TV, said the following:

“Yasser Arafat had made a decision to launch the Intifada. Immediately after the failure of the Camp David [negotiations], I met him in Paris upon his return, in July 2001 [sic]. Camp David has failed, and he said to me: “You should remain in Paris.” I asked him why, and he said: “Because I am going to start an Intifada. They want me to betray the Palestinian cause. They want me to give up on our principles, and I will not do so. I do not want Zahwa’s friends in the future to say that Yasser Arafat abandoned the Palestinian cause and principles. I might be martyred, but I shall bequeath our historical heritage to Zahwa [Arafat’s daughter] and to the children of Palestine.”

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Click on image to go to video

Here’s permanent content on the Guardian’s Israel page, The Arab-Israel conflict:

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The photo story consists of 22 photos illustrating the history of the conflict.

Here’s the photo representing the Second Intifada. (Note the caption)

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Click to Enlarge

Here’s a photo and caption from a 2006 Guardian piece titledAriel Sharon: A life in pictures‘.

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Indeed, among the more common erroneous narratives advanced by the mainstream media (and, of coursethe Guardian) is that Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, “sparked” the Second Intifada and that the Intifada began organically – lies repeated so often that causal observers could be forgiven for believing them.

However, commentators of good faith can no longer make such a claim.

Arguing that an Israeli Jew sparked the Second Intifada, however, often serves a broader polemical objective: to deny Palestinian terrorists, and their leaders, moral responsibility for the five-year war of terror against Israeli civilians, and its injurious political consequences, in a manner consistent with an anti-Zionist narrative which rarely assigns such moral agency to the Palestinians under any circumstances.  

The claim that, in 2000, Jews incited Palestinians to kill Jews, like so much of what passes for conventional wisdom about the conflict, is a total lie.