Guardian’s output of Israel related commentaries continues to decline

cifThough it isn’t easy to empirically measure how the Guardian’s coverage of Israel has changed over the years (in a qualitative sense), one quantitative metric we’ve used relates to the volume of Israel related news reports and commentaries published by the media group.  

Though in 2011 and 2012 we revealed the disproportionate degree of Israel related coverage at the Guardian and its blog ‘Comment is Free’ in comparison to their coverage of other countries, we thought it would be interesting this year to isolate just their Israel related commentaries, and see how the output has changed since 2010, the first full year of this blog’s operation.

The results are interesting, and consistent with our sense that their institutional obsession with Israel, for any number of reasons, has decreased in some respects.

  • In 2010 there were 143 Israel related commentaries in the first six months, and 289 for the entire year.
  • In 2011, there were 92 Israel related commentaries in the first six months, and 168 for the entire year.
  • In 2012, there were 61 Israel related commentaries in the first six months, and 143 for the entire year.
  • In 2013, there were 54 Israel related commentaries in the first six months, and 100 for the entire year.
  • In 2014, there have been 35 Israel related commentaries through June 26th (with a projection of 70 to 75 for the entire year if current trends continue).

Whilst this analysis doesn’t include straight news reports (and other Israel related content which does NOT appear at ‘Comment is Free’), it’s clear that Israel related commentaries decreased quite dramatically over the last four years.

Also of interest is the fact that some of the Guardian’s favorite Israel bashers (commentators who we’ve posted about continually) have been published far less frequently, or have disappeared completely – reflecting a slight improvement (and we use these words cautiously) in their overall output on issues concerning Jews and Israel. 

Rachel Shabi, an anti-Zionist Jew who once was a frequent contributor, hasn’t published a commentary about Israel at ‘Comment is Free’ since August 2013


Antony Lerman, another anti-Zionist Jew, hasn’t published a commentary at ‘Comment is Free’ since 2012.


Seth Freedman has largely been silent on the topic of Israel at ‘Comment is Free’ for the past two years, save one quirky piece in August 2013.


Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abunimah (once a frequent contributor) has had only one commentary published at ‘Comment is Free’ since 2009.


Richard (faux ‘scoop’) Silverstein (also once a frequent contributor) has been ‘silenced by the Guardian, and has had only one commentary which deals with Israel published at ‘Comment is Free’ since 2009.


And, finally, Ben White, the notorious Israel hater who can understand why people would be antisemitic given Israeli behavior, and who once appeared at ‘Comment is Free’ several times a year, hasn’t been heard from since September 2012


Though we are not shy about taking credit for Guardian corrections prompted by our correspondence with their editors, the cause of the decrease in Israel related commentaries – and the disappearance of some of their long time anti-Zionist contributors – is more opaque, and may involve editorial decisions (clearly influenced to some degree by the work of this blog) at the Guardian that we’re naturally not privy to.  

Additionally, the impact – to the editorial process at ‘Comment is Free’ – of the recent promotion of Jonathan Freedland (one of their more sober commentators) to the position of executive editor will not be clear for some time.

Finally, whilst the Guardian is still the most anti-Israel media group in the UK, it is nonetheless important to note such changes in their reporting and editorial decision-making, and recognize even modest improvements in their coverage of Israel and the larger region. 

Why is former Guardian journo David Hearst afraid of a few Zionist activists?

I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are. There are, in fact, a number of reasons. One is the state of Israel, its ideology of racial supremacy and its subsequent crimes committed against the Palestinians. It is because Zionists have always sought to equate their colonial project with Judaism that some misguidedly respond to what they see on their televisions with attacks on Jews or Jewish property….Secondly, and related to the first point, is the widespread bias and subservience to the Israeli cause in the Western media.Ben White (‘Comment is Free’ contributor, and anti-Israel activist)

In late June we cross posted a piece by the CST on a forum held at the Front Line Club in London which was titled “Critiquing the media’s approach to the Israel-Palestine conflict”.  The forum included British Islamist, Ibrahim Hewitt, ex-BBC Middle East correspondent Tim Llewellyn, and former Guardian chief foreign leader writer David Hearst.  

Sure enough, the event did not disappoint, with participants continually attempting to explain the dangerous influence of the Israel lobby (which was alternately referred to as the Jewish lobby) on media coverage of the Middle East.

Additionally, a fascinating glimpse into the mind of the British anti-Zionist Left was offered by Hearst, which you can hear in full if you forward to the 24 minute mark of this video.   Here’s part of what Hearst said:

In my short time as lead writer [at the Guardian] I felt that pressure very, very personally, both within and outside the organization.

If you just Google my name you’ll see…there’s a whole organization which is there to monitor everything I write from a point of view of antisemitism. I mean, the whole thing is disgusting….but it’s pressure. It really is pressure.

Of course, the idea that a well-paid journalist for a global media group felt “pressure” from a blog which combats antisemitism – and employs such ‘chilling’ tactics as publishing sharply worded posts, amplifying that message on Twitter and Facebook, and sending respectful complaints to their readers’ editor – is risible enough.

However, a recent exchange between Hearst and blogger Richard Millett would suggest that Hearst really does fear the subterfuge of CiF Watch Zionists.

The Tweet from Millett links to his blog post - cross posted at CiF Watch – about his experience on Friday at Amnesty International’s London HQ for the launch of Ben White’s (long-awaited!) updated Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide. The event was chaired by Hearst and, as you’ll see from the video clip in his post, Millett was denied the chance to ask a question due to his ‘affiliation’.

Hearst’s exact words, when Millett asked why he was denied the right to speak, were as follows:

“I know exactly what you’re up to. And who you are. And who you write for.”

In response to Hearst’s bizarre reply, Millett wrote:

So, what was I up to? Who am I? Who do I write for? Well, since starting this blog in 2009 I have mainly written for myself. I have occasionally written for the Jerusalem Post, the Jewish News, the Jewish Chronicle and CiF Watch, but I never realised writing could get me boycotted.

Here’s Millett’s subsequent Tweet, which tagged White and Hearst, and linked to his post:

Here’s Hearst’s reply, two days later:

Whilst Hearst was referring to a charge by Ben White – in a post published at the pro-Hamas site, Middle East Monitor (MEMO) – that the Israel Embassy in London tried to nix the Amnesty event, it’s unclear how – even assuming this is true – Millett was connected to this.  And, what did he mean by “folk”?  Is he referring to Israelis? Zionists? The pro-Israel ‘lobby’? 

Millett – who, by the way, is British and not Israeli – tried to get a clarification from Hearst, but, so far, to no avail:

It’s almost as if, in the mind of Hearst, the Israel Embassy, the ‘Israel lobby’, CiF Watch and Richard Millett are all part of one centrally organized international Zionist “pressure” group.

However, let us humbly suggest that, just perhaps, Hearst should be a bit less concerned with the blog posts and Tweets of a few Zionist activists, and bit more concerned with the fact that he chaired an event with an anti-Israel extremist who has expressed sympathy towards Jew-haters.

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Boycotted at Ben White Amnesty event as David Hearst announces “I know who you write for”.

Cross posted by London-based blogger Richard Millett

White and Hearst in discussion at Amnesty last night.

White and Hearst in discussion at Amnesty last night.

Last night (Shabbat) I was at Amnesty International’s London HQ for the launch of Ben White’s updated Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide. The event was chaired by David Hearst, former chief foreign leader writer of The Guardian.

After White’s talk he had a Q&A with Hearst after which members of the audience were allowed to ask White questions. Well, most of them anyway.

I had my arm raised for half hour while Hearst took questions from those sitting around me, before taking questions from the other side of the room. While my arm was still raised Hearst called an end to questions.

Feeling rather frustrated I asked whether I could put a question to White. Hearst declined my request and replied:

“I know exactly what you’re up to. And who you are. And who you write for.”

Sinister or what! Here’s the exchange:


So, what was I up to? Who am I? Who do I write for? Well, since starting this blog in 2009 I have mainly written for myself. I have occasionally written for the Jerusalem Post, the Jewish News, the Jewish Chronicle and CiF Watch, but I never realised writing could get me boycotted.

But here’s the point; I have never had any dealings with Hearst. So, how did he know who I was?

He was obviously primed but why? I have never been disallowed from asking a question at Amnesty before, although I was once threatened at an Amnesty event by Amnesty Campaign Manager Krystian Benedict, who has since been moved to work on Syria and who was present last night.

My question to White was going to be simply this: Seeing that White relies heavily on statements by Israeli politicians to paint Israel as racist (see slides below) I wanted to know whether the same could also be said of White particularly after he once stated that (British Jewish author) Howard Jacobson’s face was “another reason to support a boycott of Habima”, the Israeli theatre company.

I’m sure White would have batted that away quite easily, wouldn’t he? He reads my blog (he mentions it), so he should feel free to leave an answer below.

White started his talk addressing the Israeli Embassy’s apparent attempt to stop last night’s event taking place and went on to dedicate the evening to “all those people, including the Palestinians, who have sacrificed so much for liberation”.

Here’s the clip:


He then proceeded to talk about Israel’s continued “Judaisation”, particularly in the Negev and Galilee, and Israel’s “brutality”, “racism” and “apartheid” (including towards Israel’s own Ethiopian and Mizrahi Jews).

White loves nothing more than portraying Israel and Israelis as child killers. Apparently, Israeli soldiers hide near schools so they can kill Palestinian children (see slides below).

White finished off by telling his love struck audience that “Israel is afraid”.

Meanwhile, if last night is anything to go by I’m sure that Middle East Eye, David Hearst’s new website, will be a beacon of democracy and one of many and varied views…..

Slides used by Ben White last night:













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Guardian caves to anti-Israel bigots, revises SodaStream article to please Ben White

Yesterday, CiF Watch prompted a correction to a false claim by Guardian Middle East editor Ian Black that the SodaStream main office was located in Ma’ale Adumim, when in fact that industrial park in greater Ma’ale Adumim (known as Mishor Adumim) is simply the location of one of their 20 factories. Their headquarters, as we noted, is in Lod, near Ben Gurion Airport.  (CiF Watch prompted a previous correction to the same error, by another Guardian contributor, in Oct.)

However, upon reviewing the language of the correction we prompted on the Guardian’s Correction page, we noticed an additional editor’s note relating to another SodaStream related story:


According to (occasional) ‘Comment is Free’ contributor Ben White, per his following post at Electronic Intifada, he was the activist who prompted the revision:

Responding to my correspondence, The Guardian’s Readers’ Editor has amended an article written last week by Matthew Kalman.

Kalman’s article reported on the controversy over Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson ditching her role as humanitarian ambassador for the charity Oxfam, which objected to her endorsement deal with SodaStream, an Israeli company with a factory in a settlement in the occupied West Bank.

The piece, “Oxfam under pressure to cut ties with Scarlett Johansson over SodaStream ad,” now appears with the following appended text:

“In a sub-heading and in the body of the text campaigners seeking to pressure Oxfam to sever ties with Scarlett Johansson were described as “anti-Israel.” To clarify: the campaigners are opposed to settlements”

Remarkably, the Guardian Readers’ Editor upheld the objections to Kalman’s original characterization of the anti-SodaStream activists as “anti-Israel”, and bought the argument that they are only opposed to ‘the settlements’.  

To give you a sense of how extraordinarily misleading such a benign characterization is, here’s a brief summary of the ideological background of some of the more prominent BDS activists and groups involved in the anti-SodaStream campaign:

Ben White: White, who evidently prompted the Guardian correction and is one of the most vocal activists campaigning against SodaStream, opposes the existence of a Jewish State within any borders, and is even on record expressing sympathy towards anti-Semites:

Ali Abunimah: Abunimah is the co-founder of Electronic Intifada, has expressed sympathy towards Hamas, rejects Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State within any borders, has likened Zionism with Nazism and has explicitly called for the start of a 3rd deadly Palestinian intifada.

Here are additional anti-SodaStream campaigners – that is, those who would prefer that 500 Palestinians workers get laid-off, rather than there be any Jewish presence at all across the green line:

Palestinian BDS National Committee, a radical movement which opposes all forms of normalization between Palestinians and Israelis, and supports the unlimited ‘right of return’ for Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants, a tactic designed to erase Israel’s Jewish identity.  

Palestine Solidarity Campaign: a marginal, radical movement based in the UK, which supports the cultural, academic and economic boycott against Israel, and opposes the existence of a Jewish State within any borders. Further, PSC members have taken  part in convoysflotillasflytillas, and various demonstrations and events organized by supporters and members of terrorist organisations. 

Code Pink: A radical left group whichworks with the pro-Hamas Free Gaza Movement, and signed the so-called Cairo Declaration to End Israeli Apartheid, a document which opposes Zionism and calls for the unlimited right of return for millions of Palestinian ‘refugees’. (See this clip of Hamas welcoming a Code Pink delegation to Gaza in 2009)

To recap: Most of the activists aligned against SodaStream have either expressed sympathy or outright support for Islamist terror groups, support the boycott and complete isolation of Israel, oppose any cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians, and reject the very right of Israel to exist as a Jewish State. 

Only in the mind of Guardian editors would such hateful views – some which are indistinguishable from the ideologies of violent extremist groups – not qualify as “anti-Israel”.

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Peter Beinart’s Open Zion feels the pain of pre-Oslo murderers and their loved ones

An Aug. 20 essay by  at Peter Beinart’s blog Open Zion, titled ‘Palestinian Prisoners Are Released and No One Cares‘, mostly stands out in the way in which Arab murderers are characterized sympathetically while the victims of their brutal crimes are all but ignored.


Indeed, we’ve been posting frequently on the sympathetic portrayal, by some in the media, of the the 104 pre-Oslo prisoners who Israel has agreed to release – all of whom were convicted of murder, attempted murder, or being an accessory to murder, and the dearth of information about the victims and their families.  And, in fact, Zayid spends most of the space allotted to her commenting on the pain felt by the recently released murderers – in “the middle of the night”!, we are reminded – and the ‘feelings’ of their families.

In addition to the moral inversion typical in the far-left’s coverage of the prisoner release story, here are a few of the smears and falsehoods in Zayid’s Open Zion essay. 

Israelis simply don’t care about the release of prisoners who murdered their fellow citizens:

Zayid writes:

“The Israeli families who claimed to be directly affected by the freed prisoners’ actions seemed to be the only folks who really cared about the move to send these notorious men home.” 

It’s unclear how Zayid gauged the pulse of the Israeli public in a manner sufficient to make such a claim about their attitudes towards the prisoners’ release, but polls certainly indicate she’s flat-out wrong.  In fact, 77.5 percent of Israelis polled recently opposed the release – results which are quite intuitive to most Israelis, an extremely large number of whom have been personally affected by Palestinian terrorism.   

Palestinian “Political Prisoners” in Israel:

Zayid writes:

It is also important to remember whom Israel chose to free. These are not women, children, or prisoners of conscience. They are not your average Palestinians serving time for rock throwing or because an acquaintance who could no longer handle the torture volunteered their name as a scapegoat. These are not the Palestinians being held without charges or as political prisoners for nonviolent resistance.

It’s a small comfort that Zayid doesn’t at least parrot the Palestinian narrative of the pre-Oslo prisoners as “political prisoners“, but she still legitimizes the absurd notion that there are such prisoners in Israeli jails – those whose incarceration are, per the accepted definition of the term, based purely on their political or religious beliefs.

Imputing the most sinister motives to Israelis, even in response to the most painful concessions for peace:

Zayid writes:

Israel chose these prisoners specifically knowing that after over two decades of rotting in jail, these men no longer pose a threat, and that the move to free them could be used to Israel’s advantage. As the families cheer the homecoming of their loved ones, Israel can use those images to reinforce the myth that Palestinians are terrorist-loving savages. 

Of course it was Mahmoud Abbas who demanded the release of the ‘pre-Oslo’ prisoners, and so to imply that releasing them was a strategic, calculated, cynical Israeli decision continues in the illiberal tradition of those who deny Palestinian moral agency, and see in all political events a sinister Israeli motive. Further, to impute Israeli racism in the ‘belief’ that Palestinians routinely engage in incitement and glorify terrorists is to deny evidence documented daily on sites which monitor such incitement.  

It is an indisputable fact that Palestinians routinely celebrate even those citizens who’ve committed the most barbaric crimes, such as the honors bestowed upon Dalal Mughrabi, the woman who led the most lethal terror attack in Israel’s history, when she and other terrorists hijacked a bus in 1978 and killed 37 civilians, 12 of them children.

Moral equivalence between terrorists and the IDF

Zayid writes:

“Others who come to cheer see little difference between Palestinian armed resistance and an Israeli sniper shooting an unarmed 13-year-old through the heart. Both are murderers and both will find a couple hundred people to give them a hero’s welcome, regardless.”

Such a moral equivalency between Palestinian terrorists who intentionally kill Israelis and IDF soldiers who, during the course of engaging Palestinian terrorists, accidentally kill Palestinians is a common theme in anti-Zionist propaganda, and since Zayid doesn’t provide a link it’s impossible to know for sure what incident she’s even referring to.  

However, while Palestinians who murder Israelis (such as the 26 recently released prisoners) have received heroes’ welcomes when they return home, it strains credulity to even imagine a situation where an IDF soldier whose actions may have resulted in the death of a Palestinian child is celebrated because of Palestinian deaths.

One of the 26 Palestinian prisoners released by Israel is greeted by relatives and friends at the headquarters of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (Atef Safadi, European Pressphoto Agency / August 14, 2013

One of the 26 Palestinian prisoners released by Israel is greeted by relatives and friends at the headquarters of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. (Atef Safadi, European Pressphoto Agency / August 14, 2013

Religiously segregated housing:

Zayid writes:

“Freeing 26 prisoners out of 5000 means nothing compared to the Israeli Housing Minister announcing the construction of 1200 new religiously segregated housing units

Here, Zaid is likely talking about the recent announcement of 1187 new homes mostly in eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods where, as CAMERA has documented on several occasions in response to false claims, no such segregation exists.  (Indeed, in Dec. 2012, this blog was able to even get the Guardian to acknowledge that it is inaccurate to assert that such racially exclusive housing exists.)

However, in addition to the factual errors and smears, what most stands out in Zaid’s piece is how Arab murderers are humanized, while Israeli victims and their families remain nameless and largely faceless. 

It’s hard to know when Peter Beinart’s Open Zion, supposedly inspired by his love of Israel, devolved into a project which promotes the views of those who are contemptuous of Israelis, and even those who have defended anti-Semites, but, whatever his motivations, this latest piece of agitprop places his blog in an ideological direction closer to Electronic Intifada or Mondoweiss than any site which would proudly identify as Zionist.

UPDATE: There was one additional error in Zayid’s essay which I originally decided not to focus on, but which, based on a Twitter exchange about the issue, is worth at least mentioning. She cited the number of Palestinians as seven million, a number we’ve never seen before and which is greater, by more than two million, than the official Palestinian figures.  Here’s her reply:

Remarkably, she included Arab Israelis in her total count of Palestinians!

Who’s the most bigoted Guardian or ‘Comment is Free’ contributor?

The Guardian published a relatively humorous April Fool’s story yesterday titled ‘Guardian launches augmented reality specs to offer immersive liberal insight‘: 

Guardian Goggles

The story introduced the ‘new’ technology in the following manner:

“…this newspaper announces a groundbreaking development in the modern history of the media: a pair of web-connected “augmented reality” spectacles that will beam its journalism directly into the wearer’s visual field, enabling users to see the world through the Guardian’s eyes at all times.

As the wink and the nod by the Guardian contributor who penned the piece was evident, the otherwise painful evocation of such a dystopian scenario can, at this point in the ‘story’, be forgiven.

The satire continues:

“The motion-sensitive spectacles, known as Guardian Goggles, incorporate translucent screens in the lenses, overlaying the wearer’s view of their surroundings with a real-time stream of specially curated opinions from the paper’s reporters, critics and commentators.

Again, such a truly chilling prospect is at least clearly meant in jest.

However, in the subsequent passage their light-hearted parody becomes infused with the unmistakable reality of Guardian Left ideology.

“The spectacles also feature optional built-in anti-bigotry technology, which prevents exposure to non-Guardian opinions by blacking out columns by Melanie Phillips or Richard Littlejohn, among other writers, as soon as the user attempts to look at them.” [emphasis added]

It’s quite telling that, of all the examples of real racism they could have chosen to illustrate the ‘features’ of this faux technology, they chose Phillips – whose informed and serious commentary on the very real danger posed to the West by the violent and reactionary values of radical Islam clearly runs afoul of their political sensibilities.

However, instead of belaboring this particular point, we thought it would be edifying to include a short list of real bigots who they could have cited in that passage, and who also are either employed by the Guardian or have contributed to ‘Comment is Free’.  (Please consider participating in the poll at the end)

Here’s a list of a few of the antisemitic contributors they’ve published in recent years, and is in no particular order:

Deborah Orr,Guardian journalist: ‘Chosen people’ smear


Though Orr’s logical failures in analyzing the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange in 2011 were breathtaking, the following passage from her Oct. 19, 2011, piece (later revised) is particularly worth noting, as it suggests that Jews are inherently racist:

there is something abject in [Hamas’s] eagerness to accept a transfer [of prisoners] that tacitly acknowledges what so many Zionists believe – that the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate neighbors.”

Steve Bell, Guardian cartoonist: Jewish conspiracy


Whilst you can read these posts to read about Bell’s mockery of the very notion of antisemitic tropes, the following cartoon which he published at the Guardian during the November war in Gaza is most illustrative of the place where Arab Judeophobia bleeds into Guardian “liberal” commentary.

Steve Bell 16.12.2012

Raed Salah, ‘Comment is Free’ contributor: Blood libel and Jewish supremacy


As we’ve noted, an extremist cleric named Raed Salah became a Guardian cause celeb during his 2011 legal battle with UK Immigration Authorities despite his record of promoting violence and racism – which included his recitation of a poem promoting the medieval antisemitic narrative that Jews use the blood of non-Jews to bake their “holy” bread.  

When Salah won his final deportation appeal – at a UK Immigration Tribunal which, nonetheless, concluded that Salah did in fact promote the blood libel – the Guardian awarded him an essay at ‘Comment is Free’.  

Salah’s used his polemical victory lap, published on Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Day in 2012, to smear the UK Jewish community by suggesting that their support for Zionism was akin to endorsing an ideology of “supremacism”.

Here are the relevant passages in Salah’s commentary:

“Despite the Israeli policy of “transfer” – another term for ethnic cleansing – the Palestinians will not go away. The Israeli state can occupy our lands, demolish our homes, drill tunnels under the old city of Jerusalem – but we will not disappear. Instead, we now aspire to a directly elected leadership for Palestinians in Israel; one that would truly represent our interests. We seek only the legal rights guaranteed to us by international conventions and laws.

The Palestinian issue can only be resolved if Israel and its supporters in Britain abandon the dogmas of supremacy and truly adhere to the universal values of justice and fairness.” [emphasis added]

Ben White‘Comment is Free’ contributor: ‘Antisemitism is understandable’


White is a professional Israel hater who has expressed sympathy for Palestinian ‘martyrs’, and who once defended Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from “charges” that he denied the Holocaust – and whose views on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict were recently tacitly endorsed by Hamas.  He continues to publish at ‘Comment is Free’, despite having never once distanced himself from a 2002 essay he published on the extremist online site, CounterPunch.

Here’s an excerpt from the piece, titled: Is It ‘Possible’ to Understand the Rise in ‘Anti-Semitism’?,

I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are”. This after linking the rise of antisemitism with “the widespread bias and subservience to the Israeli cause in the Western media”.  There are, in fact, a number of reasons. One is the state of Israel, its ideology of racial supremacy and its subsequent crimes committed against the Palestinians. [emphasis added]

Musa AbumarzuqComment is Free’ contributor: Official in the terror group, Hamas, which openly calls for the murder of Jews


Abumarzuq was published twice at ‘Comment is Free’.  His most recent piece offered insights into his “concerns” about Israeli violation of human rights – “liberal sensibilities” which CiF editors evidently were able to reconcile with his leadership role in a group which endorses the antisemitic conspiracy theories and openly calls for the mass murder of Jews.

(Note: In addition to Abumarzuq, the list of Hamas members published at ‘Comment is Free’ includes Ismail Haniyeh, Osama Hamdan, and Azzam Tamimi.)

Please cast your ballot for the most antisemitic Guardian or ‘Comment is Free’ contributor.  When voting, feel free to choose another Guardian contributor which, for the sake of brevity, we didn’t include in the list. 

Terrorist propagandizing – a beginners guide: By Ben White

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


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

white at hamas

Hamas website

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

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

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

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

Ben White dreams that, by the “bloodshed and sweat of martyrs”, Palestine will be free!

H/T Chas and Harvey

Here is ‘Comment is Free’ contributor Ben White on TwitLonger – a service that lets you post messages that need more than 140 characters and send them to Twitter.

Click to Enlarge


It’s nice to see an evidently more mature White acknowledge that, in his post-Zionist utopia, “people will still fight against exploitation of many kinds”, though, at least “while breathing freedom!”  

However, the exception to the masses of people “fighting against exploitation… while breathing freedom” will be, of course, those Israeli civilians who are no longer breathing due to the “bloodshed”, “sweat” (and shrapnel) “of martyrs”. 


The Guardian offers another CiF columnist the opportunity to fantasize about Israel’s destruction

Ghada Karmi

UK pro-Palestinian activist, and academic, Ghada Karmi has never hidden her rejection of Israel’s right to exist.  

Nor has she been reluctant to advocate what’s called a “one state solution” – the radical reconstitution of the world’s only Jewish state into a majority Muslim state in which Jews would be a minority dependent on the ‘benevolence’ of the non-Jewish majority.

Karmi also believes Israel’s supporters in the U.S. exert a dangerous influence on the American political system.

Karmi, for instance, once referred to pro-Israeli advocates, for instance, as “intellectual terrorists“.

She also wrote the following at CiF about such pro-Israeli activists in the U.S:

“…People [in the U.S.] are hardened or resigned to having their freedom of expression limited by the pro-Israel lobby.”

Also, she wrote:

[Due to pressure from the Jewish lobby] Presidents…will…do anything to support Israel.

In this YouTube clip, she address a crowd on the question of why the U.S. supports Israel, and says:

“The U.S. is not free.  It is constrained by the power of the [Jewish] lobby.”

Not surprisingly, she also has co-operated with the International Solidarity Movement – the group which harbored suicide bombers in Israel.

Yet, in the Guardian’s jaundiced view of what constitutes left-wing and right-wing thought, Karmi is evidently a left-leaning progressive in good standing, and her latest essay represents her 16th entry at ‘Comment is Free’ since 2002.

Her latest post, Sept. 20, represents more of the same, and is titled, ‘Palestinians need a one-state solution‘.

As it often the case with Israel haters, truth is always subservient to the greater narrative, and Karmi’s following claim is a perfect illustration.

“The colonisation process continues unabated, and to date Israel has resisted every call for a settlement based on a two-state solution.” [emphasis added]

The fiction of Israeli intransigence, in contrast to peace-loving Palestinians, represents such an extreme inversion of reality that the following must be noted:

  • In 1967, after defending itself against another war of annihilation, the Israelis voted unanimously to return the vast majority of territories it had captured in exchange for peace. The Arab response was unequivocal: “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it”.

Further, Karmi, in her CiF piece, mocks Mahmoud Abbas’ intention to seek statehood (unilaterally or otherwise), and argues for “a reassessment of Palestinian political strategy”, one which “think[s] beyond the two-state solution.”

Karmi writes:

“This situation demands a new Palestinian strategy, a Plan B that converts the Palestinian struggle for two states into one.”

The demand, of course, for the Jewish state’s dissolution – by Karmi, Ben White, Ali Abunimah, Omar Barghouti, Antony Lerman, Moussa Abu Marzouk, or other commentators whose anti-Zionist fantasies are given legitimacy on the pages of the Guardian – will never, ever be accepted by Israelis.

This is not 1937.  The Peel Commission has adjourned.

The end of one-state dreams died when the nascent Jewish state miraculously emerged victorious after the Arabs launched a war of destruction in 1948.

Israeli Jews will never, ever entertain the politically regressive suggestion that they return to the status of a subjugated (or, at best, tolerated) minority, dependent on the benevolence of a historically hostile majority.  

Any attempt to ‘impose’ such a solution will be met by fierce, uncompromising Jewish resistance.

While most Israelis are willing, in the event of a serious peace proposal by the Palestinians, to be extremely flexible, and make painful territorial compromises, our freedom and national sovereignty – which Jews suffered and sacrificed unimaginably over the ages to finally achieve – is simply not negotiable. 

Ben White and the Guardian promoting BDS again

Ben White

On September 11th, the Guardian’s Science section published an article by Dr Steve Caplan – associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center – addressing the counter-productivity of boycotts against Israeli academics. 

The next day, and – rather bizarrely – in a sub-section entitled “controversies in science”, the Guardian published a riposte to Dr Caplan’s article by Ben White entitled “Why a boycott of Israeli academics is fully justified”. 

One would not, of course, have expected anything else, from either White himself or from the Guardian which, a decade ago – at the height of the second Intifada – was the first newspaper to publish a letter openly calling for academic boycott of Israel. 

Much of White’s ‘argument’ seems to concentrate upon the claim that Israeli academics do not do enough, in his view, to protest ‘the occupation’. My fellow tax-payers footing the bill for the salaries of Israeli academics hired to teach and research are probably quite relieved to hear that the majority of them are concentrating on doing their jobs rather than outsourcing their skills to a campaign of delegitimisation. 

Towards the end of his polemic, White turns to promoting PACBI – co-founded by Qatar-born, Egypt-raised, US-educated Tel Aviv University doctoral student Omar Barghouti. 

“Finally, it is revealing that Caplan also omits to mention that it is occupied and colonised Palestinians who are asking for a boycott as one tactic in a campaign for basic rights.

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel was launched in 2004, and helped to start the BDS campaign the year after. PACBI urges a boycott to be applied in ways such as refraining from “collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions”. It is nothing to do with, as Caplan incorrectly claims, “excluding someone because of his or her government’s views”.”

Of course White does not tell his readers how many Palestinians the unelected PACBI represents with its call for boycott, because he cannot – but one somehow doubts that the 80,000 Palestinians from Areas A & B (and their dependents) who already work in Israel, or any of those hoping to secure one of the 5,000 new work permits just announced, could be counted among its supporters. 

Additionally, the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians (and their loved ones) treated every year in Israeli hospitals, along with the thousands of Palestinian doctors who attend conferences and/or intern in Israel might not be enthusiastic about the idea of Israeli academics from the medical world being cut off from their peers around the globe. 

And of course ordinary Palestinians have long voted with their feet on the boycott issue by shopping and working at Israeli businesses such as the Rami Levy supermarket chain: recently the target of angry statements from the BDS crowd. 

“Owner Rami Levy admits that there is a lot of ideology involved in the supermarket. “We have three stores in Judea and Samaria,” he said, “and Palestinians and Jews work together in them. If I can contribute to Jews and Arabs being able to live here together, all the better.” “

Co-existence in the Rami Levy supermarket in Shaar Binyamin (Photo: Atta Awisat)

Ben White and PACBI are among the fossilised minority who oppose co-existence and normalization in the Middle East. In fact, in 2010 PACBI produced a document rejecting any kind of normalization with Israelis, which it defines as follows:

““participating in any project, initiative or activity whether locally or internationally, that is designed to bring together-whether directly or indirectly- Palestinian and/or Arab youth with Israelis (whether individuals or institutions) and is not explicitly designed to resist or expose the occupation and all forms of discrimination and oppression inflicted upon the Palestinian people.”” 

PACBI’s outright rejection of bridge-building between Israelis and Palestinians is of course not surprising when one considers that its BDS campaign is merely a tactic used to try to achieve a bigger goal

“PACBI leads the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel, but of course its real aim is not merely to persuade musicians to refuse to appear in Tel Aviv or to encourage people not to buy Israeli goods.  The bottom line of all the PACBI rhetoric is that with its uncompromising demand for the ‘right of return’ for Palestinian refugees to places west of the ‘green line’, it aspires to eliminate Israel as the Jewish state in precisely the same manner as Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad do.  Members of PACBI, including the suited academics at Birzeit, may not be building bombs, firing rockets or strapping on suicide belts, but their ultimate aims are identical to those who do.”

But not only is the Ben White/PACBI –driven BDS campaign of incitement detrimental to the hope of peace in the Middle East; it is also counterproductive to the current intense campaign by the British government to inject some vitality into its country’s flailing, recession-hit economy by seeking joint R&D projects with Israeli universities and companies. 

Speaking at Bar Ilan University in January of this year, FCO Minister Alistair Burt said:

“We need Israel’s acumen and intelligence; its ability to work at the highest intellectual and technological level to help the world solve its problems, from the economy to climate and environmental change – and its readiness to use its gifts in higher education and intellectual property to help the world progress. Everyone knows that Israeli R&D is world-beating. Israeli inventions are helping to drive the global economy. (…)

One key development in 2011 was the start of a partnership between Britain and Israel in tech.    We believe it is a partnership that could help both sides – the amazing quality of Israeli R&D can help British growth..”

The Minister also urged Israeli students to consider studying in the UK, and of course such students do have the potential to provide valuable income to cash-strapped British universities. But with Ben White-endorsed initiatives such as the upcoming UK Student Palestine Conference being far from infrequent events in British institutions of higher education, and Israeli students currently being courted intensely by many other countries too, it is obvious that in this field too, Ben White and the BDS campaigners are doing little to help Britain’s image. 

That self-focused extremists such as Ben White and PACBI care almost as little for the UK economy as they do for the Palestinian people should come as no surprise. That the Guardian continues to provide a willing platform to such unrepresentative fringe voices indicates that it too is part of the problem called BDS which seeks to stall co-operation, collaboration and peaceful co-existence – not only in the Middle East. 

Ben White, Ali Abunimah and ‘Comment is Free’ moderators’ egregious double standards

The Guardian’s ‘10 Simple Guidelines‘ for commenting beneath the line include the following:

1. We welcome debate and dissent, but personal attacks (on authors, other users or any individual), persistent trolling and mindless abuse will not be tolerated. The key to maintaining the Guardian website as an inviting space is to focus on intelligent discussion of topics.

8. Keep it relevant. We know that some conversations can be wide-ranging, but if you post something which is unrelated to the original topic (“off-topic”) then it may be removed, in order to keep the thread on track. This also applies to queries or comments about moderation, which should not be posted as comments.

Simple, no? Guardian readers must keep their comments on-topic and free of personal attacks against the author.

However, evidently Guardian moderators can make exceptions depending on the particular Guardian commenter.

The inaugural post at Josh Trevino’s new column on American politics at ‘Comment is Free’ (‘On politics, power and persuasion’, August 20th) was titled ‘Romney-Ryan, counterintuitive champions of Medicare‘ and elicited the following comments from professional Israel hater and friend of antisemites the world-over, Ben White. (Links to comments are here and here.)

White, of course, is referring to the row – which we’ve been covering – over a couple of Tweets by Trevino relating to the terrorist linked Mavi Marmara.

About 20 minutes later, Ali Abunimah, co-founder of the blog which instigated the row and a person whose Tweets have included support for the launching of a violent Third Intifada, endorsement of the Israel-Nazi analogy and, most recently, a bizarre conspiracy theory, commented thus:

So then someone named ‘Adam Levick’ weighed in, asking if moderators would delete White’s comments, which clearly ran afoul of the Guardian’s ‘community standards’. 

Within about 10 minutes the comment disappeared without a trace.

Subsequent attempts by this commenter to inquire about the comments of Abunimah elicited this message:

That’s right. The user privileges of ‘Adam Levick’ were suspended for what was evidently ‘Comment is Free’ apostasy, while the comments by White and Abunimah cited above have, as of the time of writing, not been deleted. 

If you want to complain about the Guardian’s double standards – and failure to abide by their own rules – please consider emailing or Tweeting ‘Comment is Free’ editor Becky Gardiner. 


Guardian ‘Editor’s Pick': Ben White’s ahistorical babblings

The decision by Guardian editors to run last weekend’s Hamas promoting and whitewashing ‘Gaza-fest’ (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here)  has been the subject of much criticism from this site and many others as well as commentators below the line on the Guardian website itself.  

If, by any remote chance, one entertained the idea that someone at the Guardian might take notice of that wave of criticism and even perhaps try to understand the basis for it, then the fact that the Guardian apparently couldn’t care less is made abundantly clear by its decision to continue the barrage with an ‘Editor’s pick’ by Ben White on June 11th.

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Among the ranks of Western anti-Israel campaigners Ben White is one of the more unpleasant, if not downright anti-Semitic, ‘one-staters’ around, with fingers in almost any and every Israel-delegitimising pie going. Be it Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), scurrilous accusations of apartheid and ethnic cleansing or replacement theology (to mention but a few), Ben White is inevitably to be found trumpeting the cause and coincidentally advancing his career choice as a self-defined  ‘expert’ on the subject of the Middle East. 

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The trouble is, of course, that he is nothing of the kind. White’s ‘expertise’ is based not upon a serious wish to acquire and disseminate knowledge, but upon the need to make a point and advance a cause. He is a paid propagandist – nothing more. 

And so, in this latest article, and under the pretence of writing about the Oslo Accords (to which the Palestinians were full and willing signatories, of course, although that fact seems to have escaped the writer’s ‘expertise’), White seeks to advance the ridiculous concept of ‘Israeli colonialism’. 

“The 1993 accords turned the Palestinian struggle from one of resisting Israeli colonialism into occupation management.”

“The Oslo accords, signed in 1993, established a paradigm where the Palestinian struggle for return and decolonisation was turned into a facade of sovereignty, piecemeal concessions and occupation management.”

“Palestinians are confronted by physical obstacles to unified resistance and strategising, in the form of Israel’s colonies, checkpoints, road networks and the wall.” 

“Multiple strands of activism are at play, some of which are aimed at directly, or indirectly, challenging the obstacles to resisting Israeli colonialism.”

[Emphasis added]

Ben White does not use these words by chance. A prerequisite for the use of the terms ‘colonialism’ and ‘colonies’ is the establishment of the historical fact that a group of people of specific nationality set out to establish themselves in a new country or area and that they are fully or partially subject to the mother country. 

And that is precisely what he would have his readers believe: that Israelis ‘colonized’ someone else’s country. If he can manage to persuade his readers of that, then White can tap into the whole Pandora’s box of Western post-colonial guilt and paint Israelis as unreformed reactionaries stuck in an outmoded mindset and – more importantly – he can frame Palestinian ‘resistance’ as the brave and noble actions of a downtrodden people who, like his modern, progressive Western readers, reject colonialism. 

But of course the fact is that there was no ‘someone else’s country’ to begin with. The geographical areas to which White refers went from being part of the Ottoman Empire to part of the Mandate for Palestine administered by Britain. For a brief period of 19 years they were occupied by Jordan after it attacked the new Israeli state in 1948 – an occupation never recognized or endorsed by the international community – and in 1988 Jordan relinquished all claims to the area. 

White’s revision of the Oslo Accords into something which happened to the Palestinian people (rather than a process in which their representatives were full partners) confirms his tendency to infanticise them. The fact that White fails to point out that the process of Israeli withdrawal from Judea & Samaria and the transition to full Palestinian self-rule, to which the Oslo Accords were designed to lead, was subsequently halted by the decision of the Palestinian leadership to launch a terror war in 2000 is equally indicative of his type of puerile ‘black and white’ thinking. What White describes as ‘consequences of Oslo’ are in fact the results of the fact that the process of coming to a permanent arrangement was stopped dead in its tracks by a Palestinian leadership unable and unwilling to make peace. 

Today, however, the vast majority of Palestinians live either under the rule of Hamas in Gaza or that of the Palestinian Authority in Areas A and B and whilst their situation may certainly leave a lot to be desired, it appears not to have crossed Ben White’s mind that his wish for a ‘Palestinian Spring’ uprising (which he seems to hope would be directed both against the Palestinian Authority and Israel) may so far have been unfulfilled not because of his misconstrued ‘consequences’ of Oslo, but because the majority of ordinary battle-weary Palestinians perhaps do not want one.  

It is not difficult for the likes of Ben White to advocate ‘revolution’ from the comfort of his far-away armchair. It is convenient to promote and glorify ‘resistance’ and ‘struggle’ when you will not be the one doing the dying. And it is easy to urge ‘mobilisation’ when you have serially ignored enough history and facts to be able to reduce a very complex and nuanced situation into an over-simplified pastiche of ‘colonialists against indigenous population’ or ‘right against wrong’. 

But let us not forget that the bottom line is that the health of Ben White’s bank account (and that of many an ‘activist’ like him) depends upon the fact that ‘resistance’ and ‘revolution’ will not be allowed to mature into the type of pragmatic compromise and statesmanship actually needed in order to reach solutions with which all the peoples of the Middle East can live. 

As for the Guardian’s decision to continue to promote – and even showcase – the ahistorical propaganda of a known and professional purveyor of malicious fabrications about Israel and flirter with Holocaust revisionism  – well that comes as no surprise. 

When editors clearly cannot comprehend that giving a platform to members of a racist terror group which aspires to genocide is problematic then obviously it cannot be expected of them to display the judgment capacities necessary in order to further prevent their paper from becoming a laughing-stock. 



‘Elder of Ziyon’ responds to the Guardian’s Ben White on BDS.

The article published on CiF Watch yesterday concerning the Co-operative Group’s decision to upgrade its boycott policies towards Israeli firms was, of course, just one of many. Among those also tackling the subject was Elder of Ziyon, who – along with Harry’s Place – then became the subject of an article on ‘electronic Intifada’ by BDS groupie and Guardian writer Ben White. 

‘The Elder’ responded: 

Ben White, who is apparently a writer specializing in hating Israel, wrote an article in Electronic Intifada criticizing my post pointing out the hypocrisy of the British Co-op boycott of Agrexco, which I noted also effectively hurts the livelihood of most Palestinian Arab farmers. In his critique, White unwittingly shows exactly the hypocrisy that I am talking about.”

Read the rest here

This is an article I wrote last year about the BDS movement’s targeting of Agrexco and the reality of cooperation between that agricultural export company and Palestinian and Arab Israeli farmers. 

In 2010 the government of the Netherlands donated 6 million Euros to two projects designed to “address food security concerns, high unemployment rates as well as to maintain and develop the full economic potential of the Gaza agricultural sector”. However, the Dutch government’s partner in these projects – an NGO known as the Palestinian Agricultural Development Association (PARC) – turns out to be active in the BDS campaign. In January 2011 it issued a press release which included the following statements:

“The last attempt by Agrexco to export to Europe limited quantities of strawberries and flowers from the Gaza Strip, exploiting the illegal Israeli siege of Gaza and the inability of Palestinian farmers there to export except through Agrexco, was aimed at beautifying the image of the Israeli occupation and covering up all its ugly crimes against the Palestinian people, and especially through the ongoing Israeli siege of the steadfasting Gaza Strip.

On this occasion, PARC salutes all activists and international supporters for the BDS campaign and especially our French friends and partners who were able to frustrate the Agrexco attempt to conduct a joint press conference with a few exploited Palestinian producers.”

(Coincidentally, it just so happens that another recipient of funding from the government of the Netherlands is none other than ‘electronic Intifada’.) 

As ‘Elder of Ziyon’ correctly points out:

“To see what real Palestinian Arabs want, look at their companies who attend Israeli trade shows  and fairs to increase their market. Look at those who visit the ports at Ashdod and Haifa to better understand import/export procedures.”

Ben White BDS letter published on Guardian letters page.

Guardian contributor Ben White is well known for having built a career based upon his dedication to promoting anti-Israel falsehoods in print and through his activities in almost any and every organisation devoted to the anti-Israel cause, including the BDS movement for which he actively campaigns. 

On April 22nd the Guardian rather curiously published a letter from Ben White on its letters page, apparently indicating that the particular section is not only a forum for the general public’s expression of opinions and ideas, but also yet another venue for self-promotion by Guardian writers. 

 “The four MPs who criticise the call for a boycott of Israel‘s National Theatre were poorly briefed (Letters, 21 April). To say that Habima is a “non-government affiliated theatre group” is an odd claim, given it is state-financed and has received £10,000 from Israel’s foreign ministry specifically for the planned performance at the Globe. It meets perfectly the criteria for boycott, following the Palestinians’ call for international support in achieving decolonisation.”
Ben White

Anyone not versed in the world of anti-Israel campaigning (and let’s be honest – that includes the majority of the public) coming across that letter might reasonably presume that Ben White is just an ordinary person from Cambridge. No mention is made of his Guardian affiliations, his personal involvement in the BDS campaign or his employment by the Amos Trust

Neither is it made clear that whilst wearing his ‘electronic Intifada’ and ‘New Statesman’ hats, White has been busy promoting the campaign to boycott Habima to which he now lends supposedly disinterested and objective support.  

The publication of White’s letter does, however, underscore two points. 

One is the fact that the Guardian shows itself once again to be perfectly at ease with its role as enabler of those (including the BDS movement) who call for the dissolution of the Jewish State – exclusively among all sovereign countries. 

The second is that the BDS movement may already be hearing the usual collective public yawn in response to its campaigns yet again if it has to resort to self-promoting sock-puppet style letters from Ben White on home echo-chamber territory. 

Easter in Jerusalem: reality and myth.

A guest post by Hadar Sela

Roman Catholics at Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Photo: AFP)

How unfortunate it is that participants in last month’s ‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ conference in Bethlehem such as Stephen Sizer and Ben White did not extend their stay. What a pity it is too that the ‘Global March to Jerusalem’ folks didn’t hang around a little longer.

Had they done so, they would have had to confront the fact that despite GMJ organiser Sarah Marusek’s off the wall claims about “limitations on Christians and Muslims from accessing holy sites” in Jerusalem, thousands of Christians are currently celebrating Easter in the city including – for the first time in years – Egyptian Copts.

The latter were apparently prevented from worshipping at the St. Helena Chapel (the Egyptian part of Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher) – although by church officials, not by Israeli authorities, so we will probably not be seeing any headlines on that subject in the ‘progressive’ Western media.

Ben White – a denier of Islamist persecution of Palestinian Christians – and his fellow Sabeel star turn and promoter of the ‘Israeli apartheid’ myth Stephen Sizer would have had to somehow explain away Israel’s provision of entry into the country to 500 Christians from Hamas-controlled Gaza and a further 20,000 from the PA-controlled territories in order to enable them to celebrate their holiday.  

Would such a confrontation with reality have made a difference to the style and content of the rhetoric spouted by people such as Marusek, White and Sizer? Probably not.

After all, Sizer is one of the authors of the ‘Christ at the Checkpoint Manifesto’ which  – inter alia – provides the magical ‘get out of jail free’ card in the form of the statement that “[c]riticism of Israel and the occupation cannot be confused with anti-Semitism and the delegitimization of the State of Israel”.

But at least the rest of us can be sure that just about the last subject of concern for the Whites, Sizers and Maruseks of this world is the right of people of all faiths in the Middle East to freedom of worship. 

  • Christians celebrate Easter in Jerusalem (