Guardian mangles Bill Clinton’s recent comments about Israeli-Palestinian peace

As CiF Watch readers no doubt know, though the Guardian rarely misses an opportunity to publish a report when someone, somewhere in the world, says something critical of Israel or their leaders, they typically omit news of similarly critical comments about Palestinians and their leaders. Indeed, a recent story by Guardian Washington correspondent Dan Roberts (Bill Clinton: Netanyahu ‘not the guy’ to strike lasting Middle East peace deal, Sept. 16th) represents yet another example of this principle.  

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Guardian covers tabloid scandal about Bibi’s wife; ignores Gaza terror attacks

In 2005 Israel evacuated every Jew from Gaza, an act which provided Palestinians in the coastal strip a chance to have an independent polity free of foreign interference for the first time in history.  

In 2006, despite assurances from the ‘international community’ that the absence of an Israeli military and ‘settler’ presence would moderate the Palestinian electorate in Gaza, a plurality of Gazans voted for Hamas – an extremist group committed to the annihilation of Israel and the murder of Jews.  Hamas has run the territory without political opposition since their violent purge of Fatah in 2007.  

Since 2006, and despite the absence of Israeli occupation, over 8,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israeli towns.  Or, to put it more accurately, there have been 8,000 individual attempts to murder innocent Israelis since that time. 

To those who don’t understand why many Israelis are reluctant to cede more land to the Palestinians without sufficient and sustainable security guarantees that aren’t dependent on the good will of Palestinian leaders or the casual ‘assurances’ of Western governments, the answer can be culled from the results of this real-life ‘land for peace’ experiment.  In short, though most Israelis strongly support, in principle, a two-state solution, most wearily expect that the new Palestinian state will quickly devolve into either failed state or, more likely, a terror state.

The reason why this blog focuses at times on the Guardian’s failure to report terror attacks from Gaza (and the West Bank), is that such an egregious failure to report the full story about the conflict allows their readers to lazily dismiss Israel’s insistence on defensible borders. This security doctrine is based on past wars and terror attacks, as well as the current reality of terrorist enemies on their borders (Hezbollah and Hamas) who are in possession of a combined arsenal of up to 170,000 (increasingly sophisticated and accurate) rockets and missiles.

So, for instance, the Guardian has failed to publish even one stand-alone article  (by their regional reporters) on any of the 100 plus rocket attacks from Gaza since January, 2014.  (The only minor exception pertains to two AFP stories (not written by Guardian staff) which characteristically focused on Israel’s response to rocket attacks.)

Here are the headlines of the two AFP reports which even mentioned Gaza rocket attacks. (Note the ‘tit for tat’ narrative, and emphasis on Israel’s response to the Gaza rockets):

AFP/Guardian story, March 3:

march 3AFP/Guardian story, March 13:

March 13

 Though their regional correspondents evidently didn’t find scores of deadly projectile fired at Israeli civilian targets newsworthy, they did, however, find time to pen two articles on complaints by former employees of the Netanyahus (a maid and a household assistant) about alleged unfair treatment by the prime minister’s wife, Sara.

Here’s a January 17 report by Rory McCarthy:

jan 17

Here’s an April 9 report by the Guardian’s new Jerusalem correspondent, Peter Beaumont:

april 9

 ‘Shocking’ details in the Jan. 17 report, included the following:

Peretz [the former maid] worked in the Netanyahu family home, in Caesarea, for six years. In the lawsuit she reportedly claimed that the prime minister’s wife, a psychologist, denied her basic social benefits and shouted at her for not following rules. Among the rules was allegedly the instruction that the employer be addressed only as “Mrs Sara Netanyahu,” following her husband becoming prime minister last spring.

Peter Beaumont’s story including even more ‘explosive’ charges:

He alleges that on another occasion Mrs Netanyahu woke him at 3am to complain that he had bought milk in bags rather than cartons. “When I complained about the time and the tone in which she spoke the harsh words to me, Mr Netanyahu interfered in the discussion and said I should do everything Mrs Netanyahu asked ‘so she will calm down’,” Naftali claims.

To put the Guardian’s priorities in some perspective, here are stats comparing their coverage of over 100 rockets attacks (100 individual Palestinian war crimes) vs their coverage of complaints against the prime minister’s wife by two former employees:

  • Guardian stories covering Sara Netanyahu’s alleged mistreatment of two employees: 2
  • Number of words in two Guardian reports on Sara Netanyahu’s alleged mistreatment of two employees: 1228
  • Guardian stories primarily devoted to terrorist attacks from Gaza: 0
  • Number of words devoted to Gaza rocket attacks on Israel within two broader Guardian/AFP reports (which focused on the general ‘tit for tat’ attacks between Gaza and Israel): 110

In case you were wondering, the latest illegal attack on Israeli civilians by the terrorists in control of Gaza (not reported by the Guardian) occurred on April 9, the very day the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent published the latest installment of L’Affair Sara.

Such contrasting priorities, which place greater emphasis on gossip about the Israeli prime minister’s wife than on deadly projectiles fired at innocent Israeli men, women and children, explains quite a bit about British misconceptions on the root cause of the conflict, and the main impediments to its resolution. 

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Fisking a Guardian claim that Bibi believes in “Israeli exceptionalism”.

Nicholas Blincoe’s bio at the Guardian notes that he is an author, critic, screenwriter and former advisor to Nick Clegg – who “divides his time between the UK and Palestine”.  Naturally, his time in Palestine is devoted to anti-Israel activism, as he is an enthusiastic supporter of BDS and has written a book sympathetic to the terrorist-abetting International Solidarity Movement – which he risibly suggested is a non-violent group.

His other observations about the region include a claim that Christians are leaving Bethlehem due to Jewish persecution, and that the mission of Israeli archeology is “to erase the traces of non-Jewish civilizations.”

He also once claimed, at Comment is Free’, that the Har Homa neighborhood (in Jerusalem) is in fact located in Bethlehem.

Blincoe has even praised the writing of a neo-Nazi style racist named Gilad Atzmon. 

Additionally, some of his Tweets include even more fanciful claims:

Recently, he managed to criticize Israel in the context of Russia’s military aggression in Crimea, suggesting the existence of unnamed Israelis who (he claims) support Russia’s military’s actions.

There was also this, complaining of Labour’s historic support for Israel’s existence:

Then, there was this bizarre accusation that Israelis steal land from Palestinians to help prevent the country from going into a recession.

Here, he repeats a lie advanced at Mondoweiss, definitively refuted by Elder of Ziyon, that Israeli forces viciously attacked innocent Palestinian footballers – an assault, it is claimed, which included firing at the athlete’s feet in order to end their athletic careers.

Here, he can be seen legitimizing a comparison between Israeli occupation of the West Bank and US slavery.

So, with such a tortured relationship with the truth, our Guardian Spin detector was set to maximum when reading his March 14 essay (Cameron at the Knesset: helping to burst the bubble of Israeli politics?) at ‘Comment is Free’ on David Cameron’s speech before the Israeli Knesset.

After reflecting on a few relatively minor details of Cameron’s address, he pivoted to his primary argument: Israelis are a stiff-necked, arrogant people who don’t care much what others think about their delusional beliefs.

If Cameron learned anything from his visit, it ought to be that Israelis are fully engaged in arguing with other Israelis; the rest of the world does not get a look in. Israel’s political class exists inside a bubble in which only their views matter, no matter how detached from reality they might be.

These are small points to take from a long speech, true. But debates around Israel have tended to emphasise Israeli exceptionalism. The idea that Israel can create its own reality flows naturally from the idea that this is a young country, founded upon religious and/or revolutionary zeal less than 70 years ago. Yet the longer that Israel is allowed to operate by its own, different rules, the less chance for peace in a region and a world of equals, trading openly and negotiating freely.

He then made a specific charge about Netanyahu that we decided was worth investigating: 

Twenty-five years ago, Netanyahu wrote a book for the US market entitled A Place Among the Nations, which argued that it was time Israel was welcomed into the international fold. It seems a laudable thesis, but the argument was disingenuous. Netanyahu actually argued that Israel’s exceptionalism – its right to act according to its own principles rather than international norms – was the thing that the world should learn to love and embrace.

First, a Google Books search of the text in ‘A Place Among the Nations‘ does not turn up any references to the term “Israeli exceptionalism”, “exceptionalism” or “exception”.  Moreover, in several reviews of the book we read (some which were decidedly hostile to the Likud leader), not one echoed Blincoe’s claim that Bibi expressed a belief that Israel should not have to act according to “international norms”. 

Also, here’s a passage suggesting that Bibi complained that Israel is judged unfairly by the international community, and that he’d prefer it if Israel WAS judged (fairly), according to “international norms”, as you can see in this passage on page 170 – again, from a text search in Google Books:

normsIt’s possible Blincoe’s claim rests on a misinterpretation of the following passage, from page 376:

religious rightHowever, the necessary context relates to the fact that, as other sources demonstrated, Bibi’s not outlining his own views, but laying out (and clearly criticizing) the religious right view.  The passages in this chapter included criticism both of the far right and far left – positioning himself as representing the centre, against two-states (at the time that wasn’t right-wing), but also opposed to annexation and other policies likely to alienate the ‘international community’.

Here’s the full passage:

A mirror image of this [left-wing] messianism is found on the religious right, where it is believed that the act of settling the land is in and of itself sufficient to earn divine providence and an end to the country’s woes. If Israel were merely to hang tough and erect more settlements, it could dispense with world opinion and international pressures.

It’s unclear if Blincoe actually read ‘A Place Among the Nations’, but he certainly has mischaracterized Netanyahu’s argument, as there seems to be no evidence that he ever used the term “Israeli exceptionalism”, or a similar term, nor argued that Israel has the “right to act according to its own principles rather than international norms.

Unless he can produce a quote from Bibi’s book we weren’t able to locate, it certainly looks as if Blincoe’s brand of pro-Palestinian politics includes smearing the Israel’s leaders with fabricated evidence in service of predictable anti-Zionist conclusions.

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Racist double standards watch: Guardian ignores Palestinians’ extreme right drift

Reports and commentaries in the Guardian (as well as in the mainstream media) analyzing Israel’s upcoming election which warn of a far-right shift within the Israeli electorate have been ubiquitous.  Much of the reporting has focused on the possibility that Binyamin Netanyahu’s party may form a more right-wing coalition government following the election, one which will be injurious – if not fatal – to the “peace process”.

Here are excerpts from such prognostications on the Guardian’s Israel page since early January.  

The left in Israel is its own worst enemy, Rachel Shabi, ‘Comment is Free’, Jan. 21

“Israel is expected to elect the most right-wing government in its history on Tuesday…”

Binyamin Netanyahu rejects calls for Palestinian State within 1967 lines, Harriet Sherwood, Guardian, Jan. 20:

“…a strengthening of the hard right in the next parliament [is expected]“

Obama’s dysfunctional relationship with Netanyahu likely to trundle on, Chris McGreal, Guardian, Jan 20:

…disillusioned former peace negotiators and Middle East policy officials expect his “dysfunctional” and confrontational relationship with Binyamin Netanyahu to stagger along even if the Israeli prime minister returns to power after Tuesday’s election with a government even further to the right of the present one.”

Arab gloom as Israel shifts rightward, Ian Black, Guardian, Jan. 19:

“To measure just how far Israeli politics have shifted to the right it is worth recalling that 2013 marks the 20th anniversary of the Oslo accords in which Israel and the PLO recognized each other…

But with Netanyahu poised to return to power at the head of a more right-wing and uncompromising government than Israel has ever seen before…”

Binyamin Netanyahu on course to win Israeli elections, Harriet Sherwood, Guardian, Jan. 18:

Binyamin Netanyahu is on course to head a more hawkish and pro-settler government following Tuesday’s elections,

Support has drained to the ultra-nationalist, pro-settler Jewish Home, led by Netanyahu’s former chief of staff Naftali Bennett, in an indication of the hardening of opinion on the right of the Israeli political spectrum.”

Peace process dead if Netanyahu wins Israeli election, academics war, Paul Owen, Guardian, Jan. 15:

The Israeli-Palestinian peace process is dead if Binyamin Netanyahu wins next week’s Israeli election, leading academics have warned.” [quote from strap line]

Jewish Americans may be increasingly disenchanted with Netanyahu. But their priorities lie elsewhere, Peter Beinart, Guardian, Jan. 12:

“In Israel, public discourse is moving right. You can see it in the rise ofIsrael Hayom, the free, pro-Likud newspaper that has eclipsed Israel’s more traditional, centrist press. You can see it in the rise of Naftali Bennett, the settler leader whose party could come in third in the elections due later this month. You can see it the election campaign as a whole, in which the two-state solution is a virtual afterthought.”

Israel election: country prepares for next act in the great moving right show, Harriet Sherwood, Guardian, Jan. 12:

“Secular liberalism once dominated politics in Israel, but polls next week are set to confirm a long-term shift to the right

Naftali Bennett interview: ‘There won’t be a Palestinian state within Israel, Harriet Sherwood, Guardian, Jan. 7:

“Jewish Home is all but certain to be part of the next coalition government, tilting it significantly further to the right.”

Binyamin Netanyahu: strong man with a fearful heart. Peter Beaumont, Observer, Jan. 5:

“The question of the nature of Netanyahu’s conservatism has been complicated by Israel’s right-shifting political scene.”

Israel’s shift to the right will alienate those it needs most, Jonathan Freedland, ‘Comment is Free’, Jan. 4:

“For now the focus is on the Israeli elections of 22 January. The polls suggest that a government ranked as one of the most right-wing in Israel’s history is set to be replaced by one even further to the right

Even if Bennett is kept out of coalition, Netanyahu will still head a more rightist government.

The centre of gravity is about to shift so far rightward that Netanyahu and even Lieberman will look moderate by comparison.”

Meanwhile, if you were curious about the political center of gravity in Palestinian society, you wouldn’t find much information on the Guardian’s ‘Palestinian territories’ page.

In fact, the ‘Israel’ page and the ‘Palestinian territories’ page look exactly the same:

Guardian Israel page, Jan. 21:

israel

Now, here’s the Guardian’s Palestinian territory page, Jan. 21:

pal

However, for those interested, news regarding a possible extreme right Palestinian political coalition – which was reported in the Algemeiner, as well as in the Arab media - may provide some vital insight into Palestinian political culture.

The Algemeiner reported the following on Jan. 20:

“A member of the Executive Committee of the PLO, Dr. Ahmed Majdalani, told Al-Quds newspaper that he expects Hamas and Islamic Jihad to join with the PLO after National Council elections later this month, though the government will still headed by President Mahmoud Abbas.”

Hamas, in case it needs reminding, is an Islamist terrorist group which refuses to recognize a Jewish state within any borders, cites the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in their founding charter, and whose leaders calls for the mass murder of Jews. Hamas advocates the destruction of Israel through violent means, indoctrinates their children to become suicide bombers, and displays extreme intolerance towards women, gays, non-Muslims and their Palestinian political opponents.

Islamic Jihad (PIJ) , funded by Iran, is another radical Islamist terrorist group, which was formed in 1979 by fundamentalists in Egypt who split from the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood because they were deemed too moderate. PIJ advocates the destruction of Israel through violent means, indoctrinates their children to become suicide bombers, and displays extreme intolerance towards women, gays, non-Muslims and their Palestinian political opponents.

Even if PIJ doesn’t join with the PLO, Hamas and Fatah are currently working out plans to implement, by the end of this month, previous reconciliation agreements signed between the two parties.

So, any way you look at it, right-wing extremism within Palestinian politics is evidently so endemic that “terror groups who urge the ethnic cleansing of Jews” are considered mainstream – a dangerous phenomena which would certainly explain why, at least on national security issues, citizens of the Jewish state seem to have reached a more right leaning political consensus.

Of course, a truly “liberal” media institution would report on Palestine’s dangerous extreme right-wing drift, condemn a possible political coalition which includes groups espousing homicidal antisemitism – and which would necessarily end any hopes of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement – and contextualize Israeli political sentiments accordingly.  

In other words, you won’t read much about Israel’s legitimate fears regarding the ominous strengthening of the Palestinian extremist right on the pages of the Guardian.