Guardian claims Israeli officials dismiss European critics as “Nazi-hugging antisemites”

Do Israeli officials or those closest to Binyamin Netanyahu dismiss European critics of Israel as “Nazi-hugging antisemites”?  

The Guardian makes such a claim in an analysis (MPs’ vote on Palestine state recognition is part of growing international trend, Oct. 13) co-written by their Middle East editor Ian Black and Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont.

Here’s the passage in question:

Anecdotal evidence suggests Israeli officials now discount criticism from Europe as coming from “Nazi-hugging antisemites” or “fucking Europe” – an expression that has apparently enjoyed some vogue among those closest to Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister. European diplomats admit that this has led to a Catch 22 situation, making it harder for supporters of Israel to communicate the message that Israel risks becoming more internationally isolated.

A Google search of the term turned up almost no hits, save this reference in an Oct. 18th article (five days after the Guardian piece) in the Economist titled ‘Recognising Palestine: A State of things to come‘.

Here’s the passage:

To downplay the significance of the vote, Mr Cameron abstained. Yet this might also reflect growing ambivalence towards Israel, some claimed. After siding with Israel early in the Gaza war, Mr Cameron denounced Israel’s post-war landgrab as “utterly deplorable”.

That growing concern has had little discernible impact on relations. Bilateral trade has risen 28% year-on-year. And Israel can be thick-skinned about how the world views it. “There’s a bit of a tendency to write off Europeans as Nazi-hugging anti-semites,” says a Western diplomat in Tel Aviv.

As you can see, the Economist’s version is a bit different than the claim made by Black and Beaumont, as the magazine merely cites an unnamed European diplomat who seems to be using his or her own words in loosely characterizing the general sentiment of some Israelis towards European critics of the state.

It may be extremely difficult to definitively disprove, but we remain extremely skeptical of the veracity of the Guardian claim – one which just so happens to overlap with the Guardian Left canard that sincere critics of Israeli policy are routinely accused of antisemitism by prominent Israelis and their supporters.

Does Guardian journo Nicholas Watt believe Tel Aviv is Israel’s capital?

An October 14th report by Guardian chief political correspondent Nicholas Watt (Alan Duncan to condemn Israeli settlements in blistering speech) included this passage:

In one of the strongest attacks on the government of Binyamin Netanyahu by a frontline UK politician, Duncan will criticise Tel Aviv for its “reprehensible” behaviour in encouraging and supporting the creation of “illegal colonies”.

It is unclear who in Tel Aviv Duncan will be criticising, as Jerusalem is of course the Israeli capital. 

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“Neo-Nazi” does warm up act for anti-Israel author Max Blumenthal.

This is a cross-post by Richard Millett.

Dedicated anti-Israel polemicist Max Blumenthal came to Britain’s parliament  on Thursday and claimed that Israeli society was dominated by neo-Nazi mobs and Israeli politics by racist politicians. The irony being that, unless I was mistaken, one of the speeches just before Blumenthal’s talk was delivered by James Thring (see photos below).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steele then alludes to Israeli ‘ethnic cleansing’.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CiF Watch prompts Guardian correction to anti-Bibi smear by Chris McGreal

On Aug. 1st we fisked the claim in the following Tweet (on July 22) by Guardian reporter Chris McGreal

McGreal actually doubled-down on the Tweet’s suggestion – that the Israeli conflict against Hamas is, in fact, a racist war designed simply to murder Arabs – in his July 31st Guardian article titled ‘American media’s new pro-Israel bias: the same party line at the wrong time.

His column began thusly:

Here are a few questions you won’t hear asked of the parade of Israeli officials crossing US television screens during the current crisis in Gaza:

  • What would you do if a foreign country was occupying your land?
  • What does it mean that Israeli cabinet ministers deny Palestine’s right to exist?
  • What should we make of a prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, who as opposition leader in the 1990s was found addressing rallies under a banner reading “Death to Arabs”?

However, after a modest amount of research – evidently more than McGreal put into his own column – we were able to establish that the banner in question, at a right-wing rally in Jerusalem in 1994, did not read ‘Death to Arabs’ but, rather, death to the father of modern terror – Yasser Arafat.

After contacting Guardian editors, they acknowledged McGreal’s error, revised the passage in question and added the following addendum to the article:

revision

We commend Guardian editors for their positive response to our complaint. 

 

Chris McGreal: The worst Guardian journalist

This blog has consistently demonstrated the journalistic malice of Guardian reporter Chris McGreal - a reporter so hostile to Israel that he all but accused IDF soldiers of deliberately murdering innocent Palestinian children. He’s also achieved the rare distinction of being singled out by the CST (the British charity tasked with protecting British’s Jewish community) in their 2011 report on antisemitic discourse.

So, while the tone of the following Tweet (on July 22) by McGreal didn’t surprise us, the wild nature of his claim inspired us to take a brief look at the issue he addressed.

Interestingly, the claim in the tweet – that the Israeli Prime Minister once led a rally under the banner “death to Arabs”, and the broader argument that this wish to kill Arabs motivated his decision to attack Hamas in early July, was repeated in a July 31st Guardian op-ed by McGreal titled American media’s new pro-Israel bias: the same party line at the wrong time‘.

His op-ed begins thusly:

Here are a few questions you won’t hear asked of the parade of Israeli officials crossing US television screens during the current crisis in Gaza:

  • What would you do if a foreign country was occupying your land?
  • What does it mean that Israeli cabinet ministers deny Palestine’s right to exist?
  • What should we make of a prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, who as opposition leader in the 1990s was found addressing rallies under a banner reading “Death to Arabs”?

McGreal’s proposed questions were meant to serve as a contrast to what he believed to be softball questions ask by US reporters of Israeli officials during the current war.

Leaving aside McGreal’s specious claim that the US media isn’t critical enough of Israel, the reason why reporters haven’t asked Israeli officials about the rally in July 1994 where Bibi allegedly spoke under a banner reading “Death to Arabs” is is because the banner in question didn’t actually say that.

First, while you can watch the full video (which McGreal embedded in this Tweet) here to see for yourself, here’s a snapshot of the frame which captures the banner under which Bibi (then the opposition leader) addressed the crowd.

bibi

The banner, at this anti-Yasser Arafat rally, reads, in Hebrew, “Death to the master murderer“, referring of course to Arafat, and the English to the right (though admittedly unclear) reads, based on multiple media reports at the time, “Death to Arafat“. It didn’t read, as McGreal claims, “Death to Arabs”, but “Death to Arafat” – the Palestinian leader dubbed the father of modern terror due to his role in scores of deadly Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians. (Indeed, Arafat’s war on Israeli mean, women and children continued in the 90s and early 2000s’, even after the Oslo Agreement) 

Here’s a passage from the Chicago Tribune on July 4, 1994:

The visit of the man of blood, Arafat, to the State of Israel, paraded and protected by hundreds of Israeli policemen and soldiers, is the height of the absurd and degrading show that we have witnessed in this past year,” said keynote speaker Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the opposition Likud Party. He spoke from a podium decked with a banner that read “Death to Arafat.”

Here’s a passage from the Philadelphia Inquirer on July 4, 1994.

Scores of police collected at the fringes of the Israel rally, while Orthodox Jewish men in black hats and knit yarmulkes and women in head coverings shouted anti-government slogans. They carried placards caricaturing Rabin – even setting at least one afire – and draped banners, like that screamingDeath to Arafat.

Here’s a passage from The Santa Cruz Sentinel on July 4th, 1994, referring to the Hebrew section of the banner:

He spoke from a second-floor balcony draped with a banner reading: “Death to the Master Murderer”.

Here’s a passage from the Seattle Times on July 4, 1994, again referring to the Hebrew section of the banner.

He spoke from a second-floor balcony draped with a banner reading,Death to the master murderer.” Usually leaders of the mainstream opposition party distance themselves from such belligerent slogans.

Finally, it’s of course true that the rally in question included some truly hateful chants and placards, and Netanyahu’s decision 20 years ago to speak at the rally should be criticized.  However, that’s not the point.  McGreal erroneously claimed in his Tweet (and Guardian op-ed) that Bibi spoke above a banner which read “Death to Arabs“, to which he added in his Tweet: “Now he’s making it come true“.  

McGreal was imputing homicidal racist motivations to Netanyahu’s decision to launch a war against Hamas – a smear of the Israeli Prime Minister which was based on a total lie.

CiF Watch prompts 3rd correction over false claims that murdered Israeli teens were ‘settlers’

Since Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel were abducted and murdered by Palestinian terrorists last month, we’ve prompted two corrections to false claims (at the Independent and the Guardian) that the three teens were ‘settlers’. 

More recently, we contacted Indy editors about the following passage in an op-ed at the paper by the British-Israeli anti-Zionist historian (and Guardian contributor) Avi Shlaim.

Here’s the original:

He [Netanyahu] used the abduction of three young Jewish settlers on the West Bank as an excuse for a violent crackdown on Hamas supporters…

Recently, Indy editors once again agreed to correct the erroneous characterization of the three murdered boys, and the passage now reads:

He used the abduction of three Jewish teenagers on the West Bank as an excuse for a violent crackdown on Hamas supporters

We commend Indy editors for correcting Shlaim’s false claim. 

Indy suggests slick Israeli PR obscures truth about dead Palestinians (Updated)

The first sentence in Patrick Cockburn’s latest Indy op-ed provides enough insight into the ideological myopia of the British far-left to properly contextualize the rest of the piece.

To many readers the New York Times coverage of the war in Gaza comes across as neutered or as having a pro-Israeli bias

The risible claim (easily refuted by a large volume of CAMERA’s reports on the NYT’s coverage of Israel) introduces readers to the main narrative being advanced:

But not to Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador in Washington, who lambasts the paper for failing “to mention that a million Israelis were in bomb shelters yesterday as 100 rockets were fired at our civilian population.” 

Mr Dermer is considered so close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he has been called “Bibi’s brain”. He is also a former student and employee of Frank Luntz, the Republican strategist who produced a confidential booklet in 2009, promptly leaked, advising Israeli spokesmen how best to manipulate American and European public opinion

It is a sophisticated document based on wide-ranging opinion polls, suggesting, for instance, that the removal of Israeli settlements from the West Bank should be denounced as “a kind of ethnic cleansing”. Dr Luntz stresses that spokesmen must demonise Hamas, but above all emphasise that they feel for the sufferings of Palestinians as well as Israelis. As a sample of what they should say, he gives: “The day will come when Israeli children and Palestinian children will grow up together, play together, and work together side-by-side not just because they have to but because they want to.”

It’s as if Cockburn truly believes, and is asking readers to believe, that only Israel uses public opinion research to craft an effective message. 

However, it gets worse:

The problem about this approach is that it sounds particularly hypocritical when, according to Unicef, 230 children have been killed in Gaza, an average of ten a day, and 2,000 have been wounded by Israeli bombs, shells and bullets. Israeli spokesmen are now denying their responsibility for the most notorious and televised atrocities such as the strike on the UN hospital [sic] last week…This is an old PR tactic, though not one recommended by Dr Luntz, which is sometime referred to as “first you say no story, then you say old story”. In other words, deny everything in the teeth of the evidence on day one and, by the time definitive proof of the massacre comes through, nobody notices when you have to admit responsibility.

He’s likely referring to the deaths of 15 Palestinians at a UN school (not a hospital) in Beit Hanoun, the one which a recently released video strongly suggests was not the result of an IDF shell. 

Further, Cockburn has it completely backwards. As we revealed in a post on July 28th, the UK media almost universally blamed Israel on the strike, and most media outlets haven’t updated their stories (or published new ones) even after the IDF released footage showing that their errant shell hit an empty school courtyard, and couldn’t have killed the 15 children, as Palestinians claimed.  

In other words, it’s the media – in classic hit ‘n run style journalism – which has ‘moved on’ after rushing to judge Israel. a dynamic which is the opposite of what Cockburn’s claims. 

Cockburn continues:

A problem here is that propaganda that works in a short war comes back to haunt you in a longer one. This is now happening in Gaza. Israeli air and artillery strikes and Hamas mortars and rockets are often presented as if they balanced each other out in terms of lethality. But the most important statistic here is that some 1,100 Palestinians have been killed as opposed to three civilians in Israel.

First, Cockburn conveniently neglects to note, in addition to the three civilians, 53 Israeli soldiers have been killed in the war.  As far as the “lack of symmetry”, it does indeed exist, but not in the manner Cockburn describes.  While Israeli strikes are aimed at legitimate military targets in Gaza, Hamas rockets are exclusively fired at Israeli civilians (all of which represent war crimes), and intentionally use their own civilians as human shields (another war crime).

The moral imbalance between the two sides couldn’t be starker. 

Again, Cockburn:

Despite his tutoring by Dr Luntz, Mr Dermer only speaks these days to the converted. Attending a Christians United for Israel Summit in Washington he replied to protesters who called him a “war criminal” by saying that “the truth is that the Israeli Defence Forces should be given a Nobel Peace Prize”. Stuff like this may explain why a Gallup poll shows that among Americans aged between 18 and 29 some 51 per cent said Israel’s actions were unjustified while only 23 per cent said they were. 

Cockburn neglects to mention that this same Gallup poll showed that a plurality of Americans, representing all age groups, believe Israel’s actions to be justified.  Conversely, when asked about Hamas’s actions, 70% believe they are unjustified, while only 11% believe them to be justified.  Such results are consistent with Gallup polling about Americans support for Israel over the past four decades, consistently showing overwhelming bi-partisan support for the Jewish State.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the Indy chose to Tweet Cockburn’s op-ed using the following text and graphic:

capture

In addition to the fact that the tweet contradicts Cockburn’s claims (that Israel is NOT in fact able to hide what they’re doing from the world), it’s telling that they decided to use a photo purportedly showing rows and rows of Palestinian caskets – Palestinian deaths Israel is presumably ‘hiding from the world’ – when, as a report in an Italian newspaper indicates, the coffins were merely props as part of an anti-Israel protest.

However, as the Indy, Guardian and New York Times clearly know from years of experience, even erroneous or misleading evidence putatively demonstrating Israeli culpability in Palestinian suffering can be an extremely effective tool to “manipulate American and European public opinion”.

UPDATE: Shortly after our post was published, we noticed that the Indy re-Tweeted the story with a new photo and, interestingly, different text – this time consistent with the substance of Cockburn’s post. 

new tweet pic

IDF responds to 6 hours of Hamas rocket fire, and Guardian blames Israel for breaking ceasefire!

As we noted about 30 minutes ago, the Guardian’s Live Blog pronounced that the ceasefire (which went into effect at 9:00 this morning) was ‘holding’ despite the dozens of rockets fired by Hamas since the morning, and the fact that world leaders, including US Secretary of State John Kerry, had forcefully condemned Hamas for violating the terms of the agreement.

However, roughly 20 minutes ago it was reported that the IDF had resumed military operations (after having ceased all attacks since 9AM in accordance with the agreement) in response to Hamas rocket fire, which prompted the following Guardian update:

newest

Here’s how the update is framed on their Israel page:

pic

It’s also the featured story on the blog itself, per the recently updated headline:

blog

This is simply surreal.

Dozens of Hamas rocket attacks evidently don’t count as a ceasefire violation according to the Guardian’s blog editor Matthew Weaver, but Israeli retaliation – six hours into the Hamas assault – constitutes an official end to the agreement. 

This isn’t just an obfuscation, but a complete and total fabrication. 

Guardian op-ed suggests murder of 3 Israelis was natural result of ‘asymmetry of power’

Professor Alan Johnson in his superb June 21st op-ed in the Telegraph (before the teens’ bodies were found) noted the “jubilant reaction of many Palestinians to the kidnapping of three Israeli teenage boys” and then argued:

And yet, despite all this whooping and cheering about the trauma and possible death of Naftali Fraenkel and Gilad Shaar, both 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, the Palestinians will likely pay a very small price in the international community or global public opinion. Why?

In part, because an anti-Zionist mindset that has taken root in the West, and at its heart is unexamined assumption – that Israelis and Palestinians are different kinds of people. Israelis have agency, responsibility and choice, Palestinians do not. In short, the world treats the Palestinians as children – ‘the pathology of paternalism’ it has been called

The unarticulated assumption of anti-Zionism is that Palestinians are a driven people, dominated by circumstances and moved by emotions; qualities associated with the world of nature. Israelis are the opposite; masters of all circumstances, rational and calculating; qualities associated with the world of culture.

This “dichotomous thinking”, argued Johnson, results in very bad consequences.

One of the bad consequences of holding Palestinians blameless has been the increasingly prevalent spin by pro-Palestinians activists, since the bullet ridden bodies of Naftali, Gilad and Eyal were discovered, suggesting that the Palestinian terrorists who killed the three teens shouldn’t ultimately be held responsible, and that the real culprits are Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli government, and/or ‘the occupation’.

To boot, the Guardian published an op-ed on July 2nd by  (a former Palestinian negotiator) titled ‘For Palestinians, this week’s deaths highlight the asymmetry of power. Khalidi not only implied that the Palestinian terrorists who killed the three teens were not morally responsible for the crimes, but also suggested that other such acts of Palestinian terror (since 1967) can be justified as understandable reactions to Israeli policy.

Khalidi alludes to Palestinian support for the kidnappers in the following paragraph:

On the Palestinian side, the kidnappers – whatever their exact motives – seem to have deliberately tapped into the Palestinian public’s longstanding concern over the thousands of prisoners in Israeli jails.

He later expands on the importance of the prisoners in contextualizing Palestinian kidnappings and other acts of terror:

The release of prisoners has indeed been one of the main motives for a long series of Palestinian attacks stretching back to the very beginnings of the 1967 occupation. In successive prisoner exchanges, and as most recently demonstrated in the Shalit case, the Israelis seemed prepared to release Palestinians only under duress and at the tempting ratio for would-be kidnappers of around 1000:1. Eventually, Palestinian militants came to the conclusion that the most effective way of releasing Palestinians from jail was to take Israeli hostages in return.

Later, after a throw-away line noting that “none of this is meant to justify the killing of innocent civilians”, he in effect does just that:

But the three Israeli youths appear to have fallen victim to the asymmetry of power between occupier and occupied, and the inevitable consequences of nearly 50 years of occupation and collective punishment of the Palestinians. 

So, the three boys were killed, not by Hamas terrorists who sang and celebrated after they extinguished three young Jewish lives, but by an abstraction – “asymmetry of power between occupier and occupied” and the “consequences” occupation.  

As Alan Johnson suggested in the passages cited above, Palestinians to commentators like Khalidi, do not possess moral agency or free will.  They are not political actors but are always acted upon.

In short, per Johnson, according to the anti-Zionist moral paradigm, Palestinians always “remain perpetually below the age of responsibility; the source of their behaviour always external to themselves, always located in Israel’s actions”.

A better example of liberal racism would be difficult to find. 

Following CiF Watch post, the Guardian quietly removes image of Camp Hamas

On June 3rd we posted about a photo used by Guardian editors to illustrate a report by Peter Beaumont (‘Israel condemns US for backing Palestinian unity government‘) about Prime Minister Netanyahu’s request that Washington not rush to immediately recognize the new Palestinian “technocratic government” backed by the terror group Hamas.

Their decision to use a photo of Palestinian children frolicking at a Hamas summer camp was deceptive for two reasons.  First, the photo they used was only one in a series published by Getty Images in 2013 which were most notable for shots depicting the kids engaged in jihadist paramilitary training.  Second, the image – conveying the putatively benign nature of the Hamas government – could be seen as an editorial decision to make light of Israeli concerns about the consequences of the US legitimization of the Islamist extremist group.

Interestingly, a few hours after our post, the Guardian decided to remove the original photo, and instead opted for this:

bibi

Though it’s unclear if our post prompted the Guardian revision, and no explanation was provided, we’re glad they at least implicitly acknowledged the highly tendentious nature of the original photo. 

..

UPDATE: The Guardian’s Readers’ Editor responded to our post with the following Tweet:

However, our subsequent exchange with Elliott (which you can see here) suggests that his intent was to make it clear that Guardian editors recognized the error and changed the photo of their own accord.  We thank them for the clarification. 

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Vatican contradicts Guardian’s claim about pope’s visit to terror memorial

On May 26th we posted about a report by the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont which characterized the pope’s visit to a Jerusalem memorial to Israeli terror victims “as an attempt to appease his Israeli hosts“.  

headlineHere are the relevant passages:

Pope Francis has deviated from his itinerary for his tour of the Holy Land for the second time in two days – this time to visit a memorial to Israeli victims of terrorism.

The surprise addition on Monday was made at the request of the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and was interpreted as an attempt to appease his Israeli hosts after his surprise decision to pray at the controversial Israeli separation wall in Bethlehem the day before.

Interestingly, however, his narrative was undermined by the Vatican itself.

The Catholic News Agency, in a report titled ‘Vatican: Pope’s stop at terror memorial not a political move‘, May 26, specifically addressed the Guardian’s claim:

Amid claims that Pope Francis’ unscheduled stop at an Israeli memorial for terrorist victims was made under pressure to appease government officials, the Holy See has said that the rumors are false.

Stating that he “was not surprised” by the negative reactions some have had toward the Pope’s stop, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi explained to journalists May 26 that the visit “was against terrorism and nothing else.”

The report continued:

According to the U.K. newspaper the Guardian, the stop was done at the prime minister’s request, and has been seen by some as an attempt to appease Israeli authorities following the Pope’s impromptu visit to the separation wall diving Israel and Palestine yesterday ahead of his Mass in Bethlehem.

Despite the fact that some suggest the Pope was pressured into making the stop, Fr. Lombardi assured that he has “no political agenda.”

Whilst Beaumont didn’t bother to note who precisely “interpreted” the pope’s visit to the terror memorial as an act of “appeasement, it seems that the visit likely represented a simple acknowledgement that though the security fence ‘represents a symbol division‘, its construction was motivated by the moral desire to save innocent lives from the onslaught of terror – Palestinian attacks which the pope characterized (in his remarks that day) as “absolute evil“.

Though a Vatican spokesman clearly explained to foreign journalists like Beaumont that the pope’s visit to the memorial “was against terrorism and nothing else“, as we’ve demonstrated continually, when there’s a competition between soberly reporting the facts and advancing the Guardian narrative, the latter will win out almost every time. 

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Despite Economist claim, ‘fanatical settlement’ of Kochav Ya’ir is neither fanatical nor a settlement (UPDATE)

(See UPDATE on this post below)

While the UK media (much like its US counterpart) often employ euphemisms – and often wild rhetorical somersaults – to avoid passing ‘value judgments’ on Palestinian terror groups, there are typically no such restraints in news stories and commentaries about Israeli ‘settlers’.  

Though only a tiny fraction of Israelis who live in cities across the green line (in Jerusalem and the West Bank) have engaged in violence or advocate its use, words like ‘radical’, ‘extremist’ and ‘fanatical’ are often used by journalists to place this Jewish population on the ‘wrong side’ of their moral divide. 

A good illustration of this knee-jerk impulse to demonize ‘settlers’ – by journalist who often seem to possess little real knowledge about such communities – can be found in a May 3rd article in The Economist titled ‘Making of a martyr‘ – a review of a book about the killing, by British officers, of Avraham (Ya’ir) Stern, leader of the pre-state underground Zionist group known as Lehi (Lohamei Herut Yisrael – Fighters for the Freedom of Israel).

After a few paragraphs which focus on the book itself, the article then pivots to a broader critique of what the anonymous Economist writer believes to be Stern’s legacy:

Stern still commands a striking hold over many of Israel’s ruling right-wingers, including the successors of the mandate-era Jewish underground who continue to perpetrate attacks on Palestinian civilians. Many still choose his nom de guerre, Yair, for their sons, including Israel’s current prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.

The author’s rhetorical slight of hand is almost comical.  Though Ya’ir is a common Hebrew name, are we supposed to intuit from the sentence that the current Israeli Prime Minister chose his son’s name based on the life and politics of Ya’ir Stern?

However, the author’s polemical inventions become even more pronounced in the following sentence:

One of the most fanatical settlements, Kochav Yair, is named after him

Though the community was indeed named after Ya’ir Stern, a quick check on Google Maps would have demonstrated to the Economist journalist that Kochav Ya’ir is NOT a settlement:

Additionally, the claim that Kochav Ya’ir is “fanatical” does not hold up to scrutiny.  

First, contrary to the stereotype of such fanatical ‘settlers’ [sic] as religious fundamentalists, Kochav Ya’ir is an overwhelmingly secular community.  

Moreover, in the last national elections in 2013 a majority of Kochav Ya’ir residents (according to official results) voted for centre and left-wing political parties.  In fact, while Likud-Israel Beiteinu was the party which attracted the greatest percentage of votes overall in the country, the top vote-getters in Kochav Ya’ir were centrist Yesh Atid and the left-wing Labor Party (at 24 and 21 percent respectively).  

So, Kochav Ya’ir is clearly not a “settlement”, nor does it appear to be at all “fanatical”.

The Economist got it wrong. 

UPDATE, May 11: Following our communication with Economist editors, the article was amended and an addendum added acknowledging that Kochav Ya’ir is neither fanatical nor a settlement.

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‘Fisking’ Robert Fisk’s latest on Israel: distortions, half-truths and fabrications

Robert Fisk isn’t very happy with the latest “betrayal of the Palestinians”, which is how he characterizes the US decision to temporarily end their aggressive engagement in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process after Fatah’s reconciliation with Hamas.  

In his latest report for The Independent, ‘Yet another betrayal of the Palestinians‘, April 25, Fisk blames Barack Obama for ‘cowardly’ walking away from the process, and laments that the US President has shown himself once again to be ‘in lock step’ with Jerusalem.

However, beyond the narrow and quite risible claim that Obama and Netanyahu are in cahoots, or at least using the same political playbook, Fisk’s ‘analysis’ is laden with distortions, half-truths and outright fabrications. 

Fisk derides “claim” that Hamas is a terror group

Fisk:

Of course – lock-stepping with Israel as usual – Obama condemned Mahmoud Abbas for the “unhelpful” step of trying to form a unity government with Hamas, a skewed version of events that entirely chimes with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s predictable claim that the Palestinian President “formed an alliance with a murderous terrorist organisation that calls for Israel’s destruction”.

So, to Fisk, Obama and Netanyahu are merely parroting an evidently debatable “claim” that Hamas is a “murderous terrorist organization that calls for Israel’s destruction”, despite the fact that the group is an internationally recognized terror organization whose founding charter unambiguously calls for Israel’s destruction and the murder of Jews, and has launched terror attacks that killed hundreds of Israeli civilians.

Fisk uncritically accepts Palestinian talking points about Hamas’s imminent move to the political centre.

Fisk:

Forget that Mr Abbas insists that this Palestinian unity would be founded on recognition of Israel, renunciation of violence and acceptance of previous agreements.

Of course, the suggestion that Hamas – whose leaders have called for genocide against the Jews – would ever betray its fundamental anti-Zionist doctrine and recognize Israel (and renounce violence) is ludicrous. Not only has a Hamas spokesperson already distanced the group from suggestions that they may recognize Israel, but the PA’s chief negotiator Saeb Erekat reportedly already walked back Abbas’s claim, and stated that Hamas is not obligated to recognize Israel to be part of the government.

Fisk grossly under counts the population of Arab Israelis

Fisk:

Since Mr Netanyahu has been demanding that Mr Abbas accept – even before the latter’s renewed love affair with Hamas – that Israel was a “Jewish state” (thus deleting its tens of thousands of Israeli Arab citizens), no “recognition of Israel” without its Jewish definition would be of any use to him.

We’re not sure how he made such a big error, but a simple tour of the website of the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (among the myriad of sources he could have used to check this ‘fact’) would have demonstrated that the population of Arab Israelis is over 1.6 Million, not “tens of thousands”.

The US is “in hock” to the Israeli government?

Fisk:

How on earth did Mr Kerry think that he could bring this nonsense off in nine months?  For as long as the US administration remains in hock to the Israeli government and continues to support Israel, right or wrong, it can never – and will never – negotiate peace between the two.

Though we weren’t previously familiar with the term “in hock”, it appears that (based on a popular online dictionary) if you are “in hock” to someone, you feel you have to do things for them because they have given you money or support.  Given the context, it appears that Fisk is (furtively) evoking the alleged influence of the ‘Israeli lobby’ over US foreign policy.

New Jewish “colonies” in east Jerusalem?

Fisk:

Only a month ago, Israel approved the construction of yet another 186 houses in the newly colonised Jewish areas of East Jerusalem

Fisk is likely referring to Israel’s recent approval of 40 new homes in Pisgat Zeev and 146 in Har Homa.  However, contrary to his claim, these are not “newly colonized” areas.  The Har Homa neighborhood was established in 1997, while Pisgat Zeev was founded in 1982.  

The Oslo Accords prohibit Israeli construction across the green line?

Fisk:

From the start, Mr Arafat agreed that his land would exist only in 22 per cent of Mandate Palestine. Fair enough. But then he accepted the growing Jewish colonies on the West Bank, allowed America to dictate the terms for peace – which were supposed to prevent any such territorial expansion after the Oslo agreement – and then permitted the US to blame him for the failure of negotiations

Contrary to Fisk’s suggestion, the Oslo Accords (Oslo 1 and Oslo 2) did NOT prohibit Israeli settlements in the territories.  The Accords stipulated that such issues – relating to final borders and the fate of Israeli settlements – were to be settled in a final status agreement.

Hamas rocket attacks on Sderot (and only Sderot?) were a “gift” to Israel:

Fisk:

Hamas…handed Israel a gift by bombarding Sderot from Gaza with thousands of inaccurate rockets, most of them home-made. It allowed Israel to kill hundreds of Palestinian civilians as it sought revenge, and deprived the Israeli left (that which still existed) of their support for the original Israeli withdrawal from Gaza;

So, to Fisk, thousands of Hamas rocket attacks (on Sderot, and, presumably, only Sderot) were a gift to Israeli leaders who were intent on finding an excuse to kill Palestinian civilians.  

Additionally, addressing Fisk’s other contention, beyond Sderot, towns targeted by the more than 8,000 quite deadly rockets (Heavy Mortars, Qassams, Grads, and the FAJR-5) fired from Gaza since its withdrawal in 2005 include Netivot, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Be’er Sheva, Kiryat Malachi, Okafim, Kiryat Gat, the greater Tel Aviv area and even the outskirts of Jerusalem.

Finally, here’s a glimpse at a few of those “home-made” “inaccurate” rockets in action:

 

Robert Fisk: So many distortions and fabrications in so few words of text.

There’s indeed a reason why bloggers refer to the point-by-point refutation of such blatant errors in an article or op-ed as ‘Fisking‘.

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By Robert Tait’s reckoning, Palestinian unity with antisemitic extremists is a ‘boon for peace’

the Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to realize the promise of Allah, no matter how long it takes. The Prophet, Allah’s prayer and peace be upon him, says: “The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,’ except for the Gharqad tree, for it is the tree of the Jews.” (Hamas Charter, Article 7)

Imagine for a moment if Binyamin Netanyahu dismantled his current government coalition and entered into a partnership between Likud and an Israeli political party whose platform cited religious texts and conspiracy theories to incite its member to murder Muslims – a movement so extreme that their leaders have called for genocide.

Of course, there is no such Israeli political party.  But, if there were, and such a coalition was formed, you can certainly bet that UK journalists wouldn’t be characterizing such an agreement as a ‘boon for peace’.

However, that’s exactly the term used by The Telegraph’s Jerusalem correspondent Robert Tait in characterizing the recent deal between Fatah and Hamas.  His April 25th report,’Kerry reminded no peace deal can be struck without addressing Gaza, reads more like an op-ed than a straight news story, especially in the highlighted passages within the following paragraphs:

Wednesday’s reconciliation pact between Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement and the Islamist Hamas group promised to end years of in-fighting by forming a new national unity government within five weeks. Fresh elections are planned within six months to give the Palestinian political landscape a new air of legitimacy.

By normal reckoning, such heartening news would be seen as a boon to any peace process with hopes of flourishing.

What could be more conducive to resolving the century old conflict between Jews and Arabs than a united front on both sides?

Instead, the development has prompted an almost apocalyptic response from Israel, with Benjamin Netanyahu, the country’s prime minister, all but writing off the talks and ordering their suspension five days before their official expiry date on April 29.

By whose reckoning would Palestinian unity between Fatah and a designated terror group which engages in the most extreme antisemitism (and rejects Israel’s right to exist within any borders) be considered a positive step for peace?

As a US State Department spokesperson said during a press conference after the unity deal was reached:  

“But I think the Secretary [of State] and we all understand it’s hard to see how Israel can be expected to negotiate with a government that does not believe in its right to exist. And that is one of the principles that’s long been expected”.

Remarkably, Tait himself acknowledges Hamas’s rejection of Israel’s continued existence in a later passage in his report, but still blames Bibi for his “apocalyptic” response, a word, it seems, more suited to describing this speech by top Hamas leader (and group co-founder) Mahmoud Al Zahhar in 2012:

What part of Hamas’s clearly stated desire to annihilate the Jews doesn’t Robert Tait understand?

 

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