Guardian quickly changes its mind, decides Israel is NOT ‘choking Gaza’

There are telltale signs when Harriet Sherwood doesn’t really want to cover a story.  A case in point is how the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent chose to cover news of the recently uncovered Gaza terror tunnel.  

Sherwood buried news of the 1.7 km long tunnel, recently uncovered by the IDF, in a passing reference (one sentence and an accompanying photo) in a 1200 word story about the economic woes in the strip due to Egypt’s recent clampdown on underground supply tunnels.  (And, naturally, Sherwood fails to connect the dots and doesn’t note that the tens of millions of dollars spent by Hamas to build the elaborate “resistance tunnel” could have been used to bolster their economy and improve vital infrastructure.) 

However, of greater note is the original title of Sherwood’s story – a report which overwhelmingly focuses on how Cairo has restricted the flow of goods into Gaza, and reduced the number of Palestinians allowed to enter into Egypt, while acknowledging that Israel has increased the number of permits granted to Palestinian exiting the strip, and has eased import restrictions.

Despite the fact that Egypt’s increased restrictions on Palestinians in Gaza is the focus of the story – in contrast with Israel’s eased restrictions – here is the original title per a cached page (before it was changed at the Guardian’s site).

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The original title was classic Guardian, conveying an anti-Israel message not supported by the subsequent text.  Indeed, we were prepared to focus on the extraordinary misleading title (and complain to Guardian editors) when, roughly an hour later, editors revised it on their own, omitting the word “Israel.”

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Interestingly, there’s no acknowledgment of the revision as a footnote at the bottom of the article where they typically note such changes.

Whilst we’d naturally love to take credit for the improved wording in the headline, the revision was either prompted by another complainant, or by their own editors, perhaps realizing that the original claim couldn’t fairly be supported by the facts.   

‘CiF’ contributor: Israel launched Operation Cast Lead “from the heart of Cairo”

Electronic Intifada contributor Rana Baker just published a commentary at ‘Comment is Free’ (‘Egypt’s coup does not bode well for Palestinians‘, July 10), which should have been titled ‘Egypt’s coup does not bode well for Hamas‘ – for it’s the autocratic leadership in Gaza City whose fortunes clearly evoke her sympathies.

However, whilst the essay itself - arguing that, whichever political movement ultimately attains power in Cairo, the Islamist led territory will suffer – is unspectacular, the opening paragraph contained two remarkably dishonest claims.  Baker writes, thusly:

When Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February 2011, Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip joined the celebrations of millions of Egyptians. Mubarak, after all, was the enforcer of Israel’s siege on Gaza and allowed Tzipi Livni, then Israeli foreign minister, to initiate “Operation Cast Lead” from the heart of Cairo.

The first claim, that Mubarak enforced Israel’s siege on Gaza – suggesting that his decision to keep the Rafah crossing mostly closed after Hamas ousted Fatah was made at the behest of Israel – is extremely dishonest, imputing Israeli control over Egypt’s government and ignoring the real factors, such as Cairo’s refusal to recognize Hamas due to concern over their own Islamist opposition. 

As AP reported in 2009:

[Egyptian Foreign Minister] Aboul Gheit repeated Egypt’s argument that it cannot open Rafah unless Abbas’ Palestinian Authority – which runs the West Bank – controls the crossing and international monitors are present.

He said Hamas wants Rafah opened because it would represent implicit Egyptian recognition of the militant group’s control of Gaza. Of course this is something we cannot do, Aboul Gheit said, because it would undermine the legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority and consecrate the split between Gaza and the West Bank.

Further, whatever additional considerations were at play in Egypt’s policy vis-a-vis the Rafah crossing, to suggest that Jerusalem was pulling Cairo’s strings borders on conspiracy.  

However, the second claim made by Baker in the sentence – that Mubarak “allowed” former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni “to initiate Operation Cast Lead from the heart of Cairo” – is even more bizarre.  Indeed, Baker’s link from the sentence leads to a Guardian report which doesn’t even suggest such a thing.

The only report even hinting at this seems to be a 2010 WikiLeaks cable (from the U.S. State Department) which claimed that “Israel had tried to coordinate Operation Cast Lead with Egypt and Fatah, offering to allow [Egypt] and the Palestinian faction to take control of Gaza after an Israeli defeat of Hamas.” However, the report concludes by stating quite clearly that “the GOI [government of Israel] received negative answers from both.” The WikiLeaks document does include a vague and unsurprising observation that “Israel, the PA and Egypt were in contact before [Cast Lead],” but nothing to support Baker’s absurd allegation that Livni launched Cast Lead “from the heart of Cairo.”

Baker’s dishonest narrative alleging Israeli control of Arab lives – in an essay which, interestingly, doesn’t appear on the Guardian’s Israel page - may play well on the streets of Cairo and Gaza City, but you have to scratch your head over the credulity in the face of such risible claims by “professional” editors in London.  

Cruel siege on Gaza by neighboring state: Tunnels, flooded with raw sewage, now to be destroyed

The smuggling tunnels linking Gaza to Egypt are a security threat and must be destroyed, a Jerusalem Cairo court ruled on Tuesday, responding to a petition brought by a group of activists in the wake of rocket firing and cross border attacks on Israel a cross-border attack, by jihadist elements who infiltrated from Gaza through the tunnelsthat killed 16 Egyptian border guards in August.

A Palestinian smuggler moves refrigerators through a tunnel from Egypt to the Gaza Strip under the border in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip. (Photo: AP)

A Palestinian smuggler moves refrigerators through a tunnel from Egypt into Gaza under the border in Rafah. (Photo: AP)

The Israeli Egyptian court ruling makes it obligatory that the government destroy the tunnels, according to Reuters.

Israel Egypt cannot tolerate a porous border that will continue to destabilize the Sinai Peninsula, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s national security adviser reportedly said.

Gaza, home to roughly 1.7 million people, has lived with border restrictions since Hamas’s violent takeover of the territory in 2007. Smuggling under the 15-kilometer border has circumvented official crossings and bypassed restrictions for many years.

Restrictions on the influx of goods into the territory has prompted Palestinians in Gaza to smuggle in luxury goods, weapons and cash through the illegal tunnels. Hamas officials are known to collect fees from tunnel operators.

An estimated 30% of goods that reach Gaza come through the tunnels

An Israeli Egyptian lawyer, Wael Hamdy, instigated the case because he was “worried about the state of national security” in his country after terror attacks prompted by lawlessness in the Sinai desert region.

The lawyer also said that, in addition to recent efforts by Jerusalem the Muslim Brotherhood-led government in Cairo to close some tunnels Israel Egypt has recently resorted to other draconian and inhumane measures such flooding some of the more than 2000 active tunnels with raw sewage.

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The systematic siege on Gaza’s lifeline to the outside world has been met with  fierce condemnation silence from pro-Palestinian groups, assorted “human rights” organizations and, even more strangely, the Guardian.

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Guardian Gaza page, Feb. 27, 2013

Guardian asks ‘expert’ what Hamas can do to “kickstart the peace process”

A story by Paul Owen on the upcoming Israeli elections and the prospects for peace with the Palestinians, in a Jan. 11 edition of the Guardian’s ongoing ‘Live Blog on the Middle East, relied almost exclusively on the analysis of Amnon Aran of City University, London.

Aran explained that there were a number of dynamics currently “working against peace”.

Owen then asked the following, evidently without a hint of irony or sarcasm:

“Khaled Meshal of Hamas and Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, the leaders of the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank respectively, met in Cairo for talks on Wednesday. Was there anything they could do to kickstart the peace process? [emphasis added]“

Here’s Aran’s even more surreal reply to Owen’s risible query:

“Serious reconciliation and unification” between the two factions would “certainly help”, Aran said, and there were positive signs there, such as the recent pro-Fatah rally in Gaza.”

Aran is of course referring to the recent rally in Gaza celebrating the anniversary of its first terror attack.

While Abbas has made it clear that he will “would never, in a thousand years, recognize a Jewish state”, Mahmoud al-Zahar, senior leader and co-founder of Hamas (a group whose founding charter cites the wisdom of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion), has waxed even more eloquently about the the Jews’ future in the Middle East.

Here he is speaking on Al-Aqsa TV in 2010:

I guess it never occurred to the British academic that a good way to “kick-start the peace process” would be for the Palestinian leadership in the W. Bank to avoid aligning themselves with a group whose leadership characterizes Jews as “blood suckers” and “wild beasts” who deserve to be annihilated. 

Guardian editorial takes the side of Morsi (or Mubarak?)

To get an idea of just how outrageous a recent Guardian editorial (on Dec. 7) defending President Morsi and criticizing the liberal opposition truly was, here are two tweets by commentators with otherwise unimpeachable Guardian Left credentials:

Here’s Guardian Cairo correspondent Jack Shenker.

Here’s ‘Comment is Free’ contributor Rachel Shabi:

Here are a few excerpts of the Guardian editorial in question:

[The crisis in Egypt] is not about the proposed constitution,

[The opposition is engaged in] a power battle in which the aim is to unseat a democratically elected president, and to prevent a referendum and fresh parliamentary elections being held, both of which Islamists stand a good chance of winning. Morsi, for his part, is determined that both polls be held as soon as possible to reaffirm the popular mandate which he still thinks he has.

The opposition on the other hand has never accepted the results of freely held elections, parliamentary or presidential, and is doing everything to stop new ones being held

So, the Guardian, when faced with a choice between a Muslim Brotherhood which is ideologically opposed to true democracy and individual freedoms – a political predisposition clearly on display in Morsi’s recent decision to assume dictatorial powers - and a political opposition which is at least marginally progressive, chose the reactionary Islamists.

The following post by a Lebanese writer, who blogs at Karl reMarks, is titled The Guardian’s Editorial on Egypt Re-Imagined‘, and is based on the same Dec. 7 Guardian editorial re-imagined as if it were written in January 2011, with minor changes like replacing Morsi with Mubarak.

As the crisis in Egypt develops, it is becoming increasingly clear what it is not about. It is not about the elections, or the economic crisis, or Egypt’s relationship with Israel. Nor is it about the arrangements for a successor to the president. Nor even is it about the temporary but absolute powers that the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, assumed for himself – for a mere thirty years, and which will lapse the moment the Egyptian people stop making a fuss.

Urging the opposition to shun dialogue, Mohamed ElBaradei said that Mubarak had lost his legitimacy. So the target of the opposition is not the constitution, or the emergency law, but Mubarak himself. What follows is a power battle in which the aim is to unseat a democratically elected president, with 88.6% of the vote, and to prevent fresh parliamentary elections being held, both of which the ruling NDP stand a good chance of winning. Mubarak, for his part, is determined that both polls be held as soon as possible to reaffirm the popular mandate which he still thinks he has.

In weighing who occupies the moral high ground, let us start with what happened on Wednesday night. That is when the crisis, sparked by yet another Mubarak decree when he was at the height of his domestic popularity over the role he played in stopping the yet another Israeli assault on Gaza, turned violent. The NDP party sanctioned a violent assault on a peaceful encampment of opposition supporters in Tahrir Square. But lethal force came later, and the NDP was its principle victims. NDP offices were attacked up and down the country, while no other party offices were touched. This does not fit the opposition’s narrative to be the victims of state violence. Both sides are victims of violence and the real perpetrators are their common enemy.

Mubarak undoubtedly made grave mistakes. In pre-empting decisions by the courts to derail his reforms, his decrees were cast too wide. His laws have many faults, although none are set in stone. The opposition on the other hand has never accepted the results of freely held elections, parliamentary or presidential, and is doing everything to stop new ones being held.

The Guardian is not only supporting a racist, antisemitic, anti-Christian, anti-West Islamist movement, but are remaining loyal even when a more liberal alternative is possible. 

You don’t need to agree with our critique of the paper’s coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict to acknowledge that the ‘Guardian Left’ ideology in many ways resembles the reactionary right more than anything truly progressive?

Guardian spices up coverage of MENA riots with incitement against Israelis and Jews.

The Guardian’s coverage of the riots and attacks on American and other Western diplomatic missions , as well as other targets, currently taking place throughout the Middle East and North Africa began on Tuesday, September 11th, with a video (sourced from Reuters) of what it termed ‘protestors’ at the US embassy in Cairo. 

At 23:30 BST that night the Guardian published an article by Associated Press in Cairo on the events at the US embassy which also included the same video and raised the subject of the film supposedly responsible for triggering the riots. On Wednesday September 12th, the Guardian published another video, this time of the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya in which, it later emerged, Ambassador Stevens and other US citizens were killed. The video’s strap-line declared that: 

“The violence is in response to an unspecified American film protesters say is blasphemous”

By 11:09 am BST, the Guardian had gone from “unspecified American film” to declaring – in an article by AP – that the film’s director was Israeli. 

Interestingly, here in the Middle East itself, there were no reports at that time of Israeli involvement in the making of the film: that notion appears to have been generated in the West, solely on the basis of the anonymous AP report, although the theme was later adopted by interested parties.  

By Wednesday morning US time, (roughly three hours after the publication of the Guardian article) the Wall Street Journal – which had originally run the AP story suggesting Israeli involvement – was backtracking

“On Wednesday, a records search turned up no references to any men in the U.S. by the name Sam Bacile. Israeli officials said they haven’t found any records of an Israeli by that name. The Journal was unable to reach the telephone number again and as of Wednesday, it had been disconnected.

The cellphone number used Tuesday was registered to a user at a home in Cerritos, Calif., where one of the residents was listed in public records as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.”

By this time, other media outlets too had realized that the supposed Israeli connection to the film was a hoax. Even Al Jazeera had managed to get the story straight by early Wednesday morning. 

” “Bacile” is now reportedly in hiding, even though reports suggest that the name is merely cover for a larger group, or a pseudonym for someone who may be neither Israeli nor Jewish – but who cited such an identify to inflame tensions.”

By Thursday, it was quite clear that there was no Israeli involvement whatsoever in the making of the film. 

However, that inflammatory – and untrue – headline still stands at the Guardian – appearing, among other places, under the ‘Islam’ category in its ‘World News’ section. 

Later on Wednesday, at 15:10 BST, the Guardian published another article by Caroline Davies, which repeated the same – and by then, obviously untrue – information regarding the film-maker’s supposed nationality.

At 15:35 BST, Julian Borger weighed in – also promoting the unproven involvement of “100 unnamed Jewish donors” in the making of the film and claiming that “Bacile still insisted that the movie would help Israel”. 

At 16:55 BST on Wednesday, Glenn Greenwald joined the fray, also pushing the already discredited Israeli angle of the story. Two days later, an editor’s note was added to his article. 

“Editor’s note: this article was amended on 14 September. The original stated that the producer of the film was Sam Bacile, an Israeli real estate developer living in California and that he had made the film with the help of 100 Jewish donors. This assertion was based on an Associated Press report that was published in Haaretz”. 

At 20:00 BST on Wednesday, Julian Borger was back with a rehashed version of his earlier piece which still contained unnecessary speculations about Israeli and Jewish involvement in the making of the film. That piece is also still featured as “Top Story” on several of the Guardian’s ‘World News’ pages. 

At 20:23 BST, the Guardian published an article by Rory Carroll, which was still pushing the “100 Jewish donors” line:

“Bacile wrote and directed the film purportedly with $5m (£3m) donated by 100 unnamed Jewish backers. The goal was to show “Islam is a cancer”, he told the Wall Street Journal.”

At 17:00 BST on Thursday, September 13th – well over 24 hours after the ‘Israeli connection’ to the film had been debunked – the Guardian rolled out veteran anti-Israel agitator Max Blumenthal (no stranger to online incendiary films himself) who, despite the fact that the story clearly lacked legs, wrote the following: (emphasis added)

“Bacile told the Associated Press that he was a Jewish Israeli real estate developer living in California. He said that he raised $5m for the production of the film from “100 Jewish donors”, an unusual claim echoing Protocols of the Elders of Zion-style fantasies. Unfortunately, the extensive history of Israeli and ultra-Zionist funding and promotion of Islamophobic propaganda in the United States provided Bacile’s remarkable statement with the ring of truth.

Only at 18:44 BST on Thursday, September 13th did the Guardian begin to set the record straight with an article by Rory Carroll. But by that time, of course, millions of Guardian readers had been spoon-fed with 31 hours-worth of defamatory untruths. 

There are several things which are deeply disturbing about the Guardian’s behavior on this story. One is the emphasis it has put on 14 minutes of puerile, badly produced hate speech as the ‘reason’ for the mass ‘rent a mob’ rioting throughout the Middle East and North Africa. That emphasis is particularly misguided and misleading in light of the fact that the attacks on the US missions in Cairo and Benghazi appear to have been pre-planned to coincide with the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. 

No less disturbing is the Guardian’s promotion of fictitious Israeli and Jewish involvement in the production of the film. Not only did the Guardian obviously fail completely to fact check the AP report it originally published, but even when the unreliability of that report came to light, it continued to push that version of the story because it dovetailed with the Guardian’s own existing prejudices. 

If the West should have learned anything over the past few days, it is that rumour – however ridiculous and unfounded – can be a very dangerous and even lethal thing in this part of the world. Whilst some people at the Guardian may find it useful or amusing to promote unsubstantiated rumours which they have clearly not bothered to fact-check, that is not the type of reckless incitement one expects from a responsible, respectable or serious mainstream media outlet. 

The Guardian must therefore promptly issue a prominent correction on each and every one of those articles citing, referring to or inspired by the irresponsible AP report, making it very clear that its reports were misleading, unfounded and untruthful. 

If it has the necessary conscience and guts, the Guardian will also admit to gross professional negligence.

Israel sentences man to 3 yrs prison for insulting Judaism. (& by Israel I mean Egypt, & by Judaism I mean Islam)

H/T AKUS

As a citizen of the only truly democratic nation in the Middle East, I’d genuinely be thrilled if the political upheavals currently erupting in neighboring states resulted in real Israeli-style liberalism, tolerance, and pluralism.

However, it’s hard to ignore increasing evidence that the term “Arab Spring” – so wistfully uttered by Guardian reporters and commentators – may one day be viewed as appallingly unserious wishful thinking, and properly assigned to the dustbin of rhetorical history.

Per the Washington Post:

Egypt’s state media says a Cairo court has sentenced a man to three years in prison for postings on Facebook deemed to be inciting sectarianism and in contempt of Islam.

The MENA state news agency said Saturday a the misdemeanor court found Ayman Mansour had intentionally mocked Islam and used “outrageous and scurrilous” language in describing the religion’s holy book, the Quran, and its prophet and believers.

However, I do worry that I may one day be sentenced for the crime of intentionally mocking the far left, and using outrageous & scurrilous language in describing the religion’s holy book, the Guardian, its prophet journalists, and millions of true believers who evidently take their analysis of Mid-East politics seriously. 

More attacks on Copt Christians in Egypt

This was posted today at the blog of The National Review, The Corner.

Copts in Egypt are begging for Egyptian Armed Forces protection today after a Muslim mob of several thousand attacked their church in the village of Soul, about 30 kilometers from Cairo, last night. The Church of St. Mina and St. George was torched, and its clergy are unaccounted for. The fire department and security forces failed to respond to Coptic pleas for help during the arson attack.

According to a report from the Washington-based Coptic American Friendship Association, the mob, chanting “Allahu Akbar,” pulled down the church’s cross and detonated a handful of gas cylinders inside the structure. The ensuing fire destroyed the church and all its contents, including the sacred relics of centuries-old saints. It is reported that a romantic relationship between a Christian man and a Muslim woman, which sharia forbids, and the refusal of the woman’s father to kill her to restore the community’s “honor,” aroused the Muslim ire. An account of this incident is here. (I also received a message from a Coptic friend that this week members of the Muslim Brotherhood, shouting “Allahu Akbar,” stormed a Christian school on Thabit Street in downtown Asyut and attempted to take it over. Egyptian security forces, including an army unit, intervened and routed out the Brotherhood members. The school had been built by Presbyterian missionaries in the early 1900s, and is now directed by Presbyterian Pastor Naji. Christian leaders from this southern area expressed a deepening sense of insecurity as the Muslim Brotherhood emerges from the underground.)

Read the rest of the post, here.

Read another account of the violence, here.

The “non-sectarian” Yusuf al-Qaradawi

The best-known Muslim Brotherhood cleric in the world and one of the most famous Islamist thinkers, addressed a massive crowd today in Cairo’s Tahir Square.  As Middle East scholar Barry Rubin noted,

“Qaradawi, though some in the West view him as a moderate, supports the straight Islamist line: anti-American, anti-Western, wipe Israel off the map, foment Jihad, stone homosexuals, in short the works.”

In other words, we can expect the Guardian to whitewash Qaradawi’s extremism in future columns and, indeed, in a brief summary of the day’s rally in Cairo, the Guardian described him as merely “controversial” and characterized his speech as “non-sectarian.”

Here’s a video of an interview Qaradawi recently gave that is decidedly, let’s say, “sectarian.”