Sky News asks admitted anti-Semite her views on the rise of UK antisemitism!

We haven’t been monitoring Sky News long enough to provide a broader analysis of their coverage of the war in Gaza, but their decision (yesterday) to interview Mira Bar-Hillel (a British journalist who has admitted to being prejudiced against Jews), on the question of whether antisemitism in the UK will rise as a result of the conflict, reads like something in the parody site, The Onion.

Briefly, for those unfamiliar with Ms. Bar-Hillel (who contributes to the Independent), here’s a few facts about her own views about Jews:

She has complained that Jews (per the Livingstone Formulation) smear people unfairly with the charge of antisemitism to “gag into submission any critic of Israel”.

She recently evoked Nazi Germany in characterizing Israeli racism and IDF military actions in Gaza.

She has accused British Jews (collectively) of ‘bombing Gaza’.

She bizarrely claimed that British Jews don’t criticize Israeli actions in Gaza out of fear of being “ex-communicated” from the Jewish community,

She has admitted to being prejudiced against Jews. Here are her exact words:

The Jews of today scare me and I find it almost impossible to talk to most of them, including relatives. Any criticism of the policies of Israel – including the disgraceful treatment of Holocaust survivors as well as refugees from murderous regimes – is regarded as treason and/or anti-Semitism. Most papers and journals will not even publish articles on the subject for fear of a Jewish backlash. Goyim (gentiles) are often treated with ill-concealed contempt, yet the Jews are always the victims. Am I prejudiced against Jews? Alas, yes. 

Now, let’s go the simply surreal Sky News interview:

Here are a few observations:

  • Bar-Hillel claims that the failure of British Jews to speak out about Israeli ‘crimes’ in Gaza is what causes antisemitism – a perfect example of holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel, an accusation defined as antisemitic by the EUMC Working Definition.
  • The female Sky News co-host asks a follow-up question (at roughly the 1:40 mark) to Bar-Hillel which parrots the claim that Jews label all criticism of Israel antisemitic.
  • Neither Sky News host challenges her when she smears the UK Jewish community, by suggesting that British Jews are culpable for not speaking out against Israel.
  • Neither Sky News host challenges her claim (at roughly the 5:05 mark) that the only reason why the West supports Israel is because of guilt over the Holocaust.
  • More broadly, note that in a Sky News program about antisemitism, they didn’t seek the expertise of The CST (the British charity tasked with protecting Jews against antisemitism), or any official body which actually represents UK Jews, but, rather, a marginal commentator who has admitted to not being part of the Jewish community. If, for instance, they would have asked representatives from The CST, they would have provided data demonstrating that antisemitism has indeed increased in the UK since the beginning of the war.

Finally, if you believe, as we do, that this Sky News segment not only had the effect of smearing the UK Jewish community, but violating Ofcom’s rules on impartiality in news and current affairs, please consider filing an Ofcom complaint.

Independent op-eds spew hate and vitriol at Israel

The Independent doesn’t have a Jerusalem correspondent at the moment. So, during the war, they’ve been mainly relying on stringers and wire service reports. However, their lack of on-the-ground coverage hasn’t stopped them from using the ‘expert’ analysis of a few of their op-ed contributors:

Here are a few examples:

Adam Withnall

As noted on these pages yesterday, the Indy’s Adam Withnall seemed to characterize a few dozen Sderot residents – a community which been on the receiving end of thousands of Gaza rockets since 2001 – applauding attacks on Hamas military targets as an act of almost unparalleled human cruelty.  Withnall cited one Twitter user who opined about the ‘spectacle’, that “If this is true then God help us all”, before asking,  “What’s become of the human race?”

Robert Fisk

A July 13th op-ed on the war by their “award-winning” Middle East correspondent titled (Why doesn’t the media ever mention the lack of progress in the Middle East?) blamed the Western media for being too soft on Israeli “blood-letting”, by failing to inform news consumers that they state has been “engaged in “pitiless, infinitely more wicked and obscene war”.

Mira Bar-Hillel

Hillel, the British reporter who (though Jewish herself) has acknowledged being antisemitic, published an op-ed on July 11th (Why I’m on the brink of burning my Israeli passport), which likened alleged Facebook comments (the veracity of which is in doubt) by Israeli MK Ayelet Shaked to crimes committed by the Nazis:

Hillel wrote:

She [MK Shaked] made me think about my mother’s sister Klara and her three small children who were living in Krakow in 1939 when the Germans invaded. They decided that the Jews – all Jews – were the enemy and had to be eliminated, not least the women and the little snakes they were raising. “Why? Ask them – they started it”, as the Nazis would say if asked

Later, Hillel referred to a few random hateful Tweets by Israeli teens as “angelic faces of evil spouting such genocidal rhetoric”, before ending with a rhetorical flourish worthy of a character in Howard Jacobson’s book The Finkler Question:

 I pick up my Israeli passport and a box of matches. “Not in my name, people. Not in my name!” 

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

Alibhai-Brown’s July 13th op-ed (Israel’s reaction has been vicious and misdirected) characterized the “mindset of hardline Zionists” thusly:

It is a combination of paranoia, indiscriminate loyalty and odium towards any person or group opposed to Israel’s violent oppression of Palestinians.

Alibhai-Brown then seemed to compare Jihadists attacks with the actions of the Jewish State, and vilifies ‘British Zionists’ for not speaking out:

When Jihadis commit atrocities, British Muslims are collectively blamed, told to protest, to issue statements from mosques, to say sorry, to stop the Islamicists. Israel builds walls, grabs land, introduces racist rules, imprisons Palestinian children, uses grotesque force and gets undeclared donations from British Zionists, and British Jews are not asked to march, or issue condemnations or promises.

Alibhai-Brown’s diatribe then devolves further, accusing Israel of engaging in a plan of genocide:

The Holocaust – one of the most obscene, inhumane pogroms in world history – is now used as a guarantee of perpetual indemnity by a state which was to be a sanctuary and an exemplar of survival, dignity and morality. Israel’s leadership has discarded moral sense and wants to eliminate Palestinians altogether from the pitifully small bits of land they live in. They have learnt the wrong lessons from their own history and seem to be modelling themselves on Europeans who took over Australia, North and South America.

In contextualizing the UK media each day during the war, we can honestly say at this point that recent Indy’s attacks surpass even the Guardian in the level of malice and vitriol directed towards Israel and its ‘Zionist’ supporters.

Finally, you may recall that last October the Indy published a spirited editorial refuting accusations that the paper was institutionally antisemitic, claiming that the charges were “false”, “myopic” and “willfully ignorant” – words which actually quite aptly characterize the hateful agitprop directed against the Jewish State by Fisk, Bar-Hillel and Alibhai-Brown over the last few days.

Abu Qatada: a lesson for British Jews

Cross posted by Mark Gardner at the CST

Finally, Abu Qatada is back in Jordan, facing questioning about terrorism. The extradition has been a lengthy legal saga, summarised by headlines such as “hate preacher” and “send him back”.

The Guardian Comment is Free website has two articles on Britain’s handling of Abu Qatada. The first of these, by Victoria Brittain, is simply a blanket defence of him. The second, by Simon Jenkins, is far more ambiguous. Neither article details Abu Qatada’s actual UK activities in the 1990s and early 2000s, such as his links to British Muslims who later became terrorists, or his links and financing with overseas “mujahideen”: despite these facts being well-known and having appeared in Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) judgements.

The SIAC evidence is extensive. The 2007 judgement reads like a 1990′s and early 2000′s who’s who of the global jihad movement. Section 84 is one of its more succinct paragraphs:

In short, his views are to be found linked to many terrorist groups and their actions, providing the religious cover they seek; he propagates radicalising views, and his fund-raising is aimed at advancing the Islamist extremist cause.

The SIAC judgements also reference Abu Qatada’s incitement for the murdering of British Jews (from 2007, section 28):

…even in December 1996, the Appellant was already proclaiming that it was acceptable to fight Jews within the UK.

Similarly, section 31, but now with Jewish children clarified as legitimate targets. Britons and Americans are also added (presumably this also includes British and American children):

In October 1999, the Appellant made a speech at the Four Feathers mosque [in Marylebone, London] in which he effectively issued a fatwa authorising the killing of Jews, including Jewish children.  He told the congregation that Americans should be attacked wherever they were, that in his view they were no better than Jews and that there was no difference between English, Jews and Americans.

The Guardian coverage is important because it shows how some liberal-left opinion makers and activists are blinding themselves (and others) to the realities of extremism. British Jews have long despaired at the failure of such people to acknowledge antisemitism when it comes from Arab or Muslim sources, but this coverage of Abu Qatada shows that selective blindness to antisemitism is only part of a wider failing.

For British Jews, the lesson is obvious. If these people are even soft on Abu Qatada, then we should expect absolutely nothing from them regarding any overseas hatred or incitement: whether that is Hizbollah terrorism against Diaspora Jews, Hamas terrorism against Israel, the appalling overall levels of antisemitic attitudes and hate speech, or visits by overseas preachers to the UK.

To return specifically to these two Guardian articles, Victoria Brittain’s is by far the more obviously ridiculous. It’s title is a classic of the genre:

I know Abu Qatada – he’s no terrorist

Usually, it is the Guardian sub-editors who choose how to entitle articles, based upon their reading of them. So, Victoria Brittain may not have actually called it this. Her article lauds Abu Qatada as “a scholar with wide intellectual and cultural interests. He wrote books while in prison”. He phones his kids from prison to encourage their homework etc, but Brittain does not explicitly say that Abu Qatada is no terrorist. Instead, it is Qatada’s family that is “innocent” and:

No one suggests Othman [ie Qatada] is physically dangerous himself.

Which may even be true, but it completely ducks the central allegation that he encourages many others whom we might describe as “physically dangerous”. 

Brittain also says, “no one has pointed to anything controversial that he is alleged to have said since the mid-1990s”. Perhaps Brittain does not regard the 1999 example of incitement to killing Jews (including their children and Britons and Americans) as controversial. She also says that the security services should have followed her lead:

If instead they had chosen to talk to him, as I have many times, they would have found that the man behind the myth is a scholar…I believe that, rather than being scapegaoted, his moral standards could have been useful in engaging Muslim youth.

British Jews should be deeply thankful that Muslim youth are no longer exposed to Abu Qatada’s “moral standards”. Besides, the security services did, repeatedly, speak to Abu Qatada. SIAC states (2007, section 29) that he:

…warned his congregation to be wary of MI5’s approaches and provided them with physical descriptions and names of MI5 officers approaching Muslims.

So much for Victoria Brittain, but is such a person really someone whom British Jews (and others) should take seriously? Sadly, almost unbelievably, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. Brittain was associate foreign editor of the Guardian, is a patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and offered £10,000 surety money for Sheikh Ra’ed Salah.

CST believed Sheikh Salah had preached a sermon in Jerusalem that included a blood libel, alleging that Jews need the blood of non-Jews for “holy bread”. CST supported the Home Secretary’s ban on him. The ban was condemned by the Guardian, which also misrepresented Jewish and Home Office concerns and actions. Salah eventually won his appeal, despite being found to have made the blood libel speech (see ruling pdf here, section 59). The Guardian’s defence of him never relented and they never did acknowledge the blood libel ruling (see CST pdf here, p.18-22).

If Brittain defends Abu Qatada, then is it any wonder she defended the far less clear-cut case of Salah? Ditto the comments pages of the Guardian.

The Guardian’s other comment piece on Abu Qatada is by one of its senior regular writers, Simon Jenkins. Chairman of the National Trust, former editor of the Times and Evening Standard, he is somewhat more establishment than Victoria Brittain.

Jenkins’ article differs markedly from Brittain’s piece, but is another important marker in how Qatada is viewed, and what we can therefore expect regarding all those other cases that are far less clear-cut. His position starts out promisingly enough:

The state is entitled to deport people it considers a threat…I have no problem in sending home people in the category of Abu Qatada, who arrived on false documents, became an ally and counsellor to terrorists and then cited fear of torture as a reason for not being deported…

However, it then turns very lazy:

That said, Abu Qatada by all accounts does not fall into the ranting cleric category of his contemporary, Abu Hamza. He is closer to the vagrant revolutionary tradition to which London has offered refuge throughout history. The city should be big enough to encompass him, even if his activities merited watching…

Jenkins knows enough to realise that the charges against Abu Qatada are extensive, but ultimately he seems to be simply failing to take Abu Qatada seriously. Whatever the cause of this ambivalence, it is yet another reason why British Jews can have no confidence in such circles to safeguard their wellbeing; and the rest of society ought to feel exactly the same.

Finally, for light relief, compare Victoria Brittain’s “He’s no terrorist” schtick with this brief Simpson’s excerpt below.

Guardian print edition story on UK terror plot adds info previously missing about Jewish targets

Yesterday, we noted that Guardian reporter Linda Laville published nearly 5000 words (in four reports on Feb. 21) devoted to the recent conviction of three Birmingham Jihadists who were conspiring to launch a large-scale terror attack in the UK, and didn’t mention that Jews were among the possible targets.

Here’s the relevant passage in Laville’s account:

Although no target was ever discussed, their ambition was to outdo the bombers from the 7 July 2005 attacks in London. Naseer told his associates the plan was for “seven or eight [bombs] in different places with timers on at the same time, boom, boom, boom”

However, we noted that the jury in the trial heard recordings made by police of the three men (Irfan Naseer, Irfan Khalid and Ashik Ali) specifically mentioning the possibility of targeting a British synagogue, a fact which was reported by other news outlets, including the Telegraph.

Indeed, as we observed in our post, this latest plot represents the third recent case in which Islamist terrorists have targeted British Jews, and is thoroughly consistent with Al Qaeda’s broader strategy of targeting Jews in the West.

Last night, I had this exchange with the Guardian’s Laville. (Laville was responding to someone who re-tweeted our original post)

Interestingly, however, an alert reader in the UK informed us this morning that today’s print edition of the Guardian (scanned below) contained a slightly different version of one of the online reports by Laville.

As you can see, the story was the lead:

print

Here’s a scan of the specific story in the paper:

print

 

Here’s the passage we highlighted:

No firm targets were ever identified by the police and security services although the plotters made various threats against groups including soldiers, women, anyone in crowded places and synagogues.

So, why the change to the print edition version of the original online story?

Perhaps only Linda Laville knows for sure, but we certainly have our suspicions. 

2010 Report on Anti-Semitism: London – you have a problem.

The Community Security Trust (CST) has once again produced sterling work in its recently released ‘’Antisemitic Incidents Report 2010.

The 639 reported incidents in 2010 are the second highest annual total since records began in 1984 and despite the 30% decrease in incidents when compared to 2009, the long-term trend of rising levels of antisemitic incidents in the UK over the past decade continues.

Of course the CST’s report represents the tip of the iceberg, as the organisation itself points out:

 

“Not all antisemitic incidents will be reported to CST and therefore the true figures will be higher than those recorded.”

The entire report makes for very disturbing reading, but some particularly worrying trends include the damage to property of private individuals – attacks on private homes, the number of incidents involving Jewish schools, schoolchildren and teachers, the prominence of attacks in the Greater Manchester area and the rise of violent anti-Semitic assaults as a proportion of the total incidents.

The then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown described the previous CST report, released in February 2010 and monitoring the incidents of 2009, as “deeply troubling”. The question many of us will be asking is how he and other members of the British establishment intend to deal with this disturbing and, thanks to the CST, well-documented trend of rising antisemitism in their country.  No less troubling perhaps is the fact that the British government leaves the recording of antisemitic hate crime to the Jewish community itself.

In a country which prides itself in being a liberal and multicultural democracy, one might expect a newspaper which describes itself as ‘the world’s leading liberal voice’ to place antisemitic hate crimes pretty much at the top of its ‘to do’ list. Unfortunately, we have yet to see this issue being taken up seriously by the Guardian.

In fact, other CST reports have cited the Guardian as a major purveyor of anti-Semitic discourse.   Those of us who monitor the content of ‘Comment is Free’ have little reason to believe that the next CST report on the subject of antisemitic discourse in Britain will show significant changes on that front.

As pointed out in this latest report, the first week in June 2010 – immediately following the incident aboard the ‘Mavi Marmara’ –  showed a spike in incidents of hate crimes against British Jews. At the time, CiF Watch recorded the publication of 37 opinion pieces, editorials and cartoons relating to the incident (excluding actual news items) between the dates 31/05/2010 and 11/06/2010.

76% of those articles were hostile towards Israel. Overall, the CiF coverage of this event cast Israel in the role of the aggressor and transgressor of international law, while severely downplaying–and often completely ignoring–the actions of the IHH in this incident and its links to terrorist organizations. ‘Just Journalism’ reported on the downplaying of the video evidence of events aboard the ship by the Guardian and other British media during the week after the incident.

“The findings raise serious questions about the willingness on the parts of The Guardian and The Independent to deal appropriately with evidence which supports Israel’s side of a contested story. Given the high-profile given by these same publications to stories involving serious allegations of wrongdoing by Israel, this is particularly noteworthy.”

Equally noteworthy is the Guardian’s subsequent under-reporting of the outcome of the Turkel Commission, the findings of which warranted a mere half article from the Jerusalem correspondent Harriet Sherwood.  In contrast, the UNHRC report into the same incident – which has been severely criticized both for the definition of its mission and its methodology – was more extensively covered on CiF, including one article with the sensationalist headline “UN report condemns Israeli ‘brutality’”.

The CST’s meticulous recording of antisemitic attacks and their decade-long rising trend is obviously extremely important, as of course is their other extensive work in advancing the security of the British Jewish community. However, in any normally functioning society the recording of, and fight against, hate crimes perpetrated against a minority cannot be left to the victims themselves.  One would expect to see much broader interest in the subject from those supposedly committed to anti-racism and the creation of an inclusive society and one might conclude that the Left-leaning liberal media should be expected to be at the forefront of that cause.

The trustees and board of directors of the Scott Trust need to urgently ask themselves whether their aspiration is to be part of the solution or to continue being part of the exacerbation of the problem.