Guardian readers’ editor claims that Hamas ‘denies’ using human shields

Guardian readers’ editor Chris Elliott, in an Aug. 18th column on the Hamas ‘child sacrifice’ advert featuring Elie Wiesel, wrote the following in the context of suggesting that his paper’s decision to publish the ad was not a wise one.

whatever the intention, the biblical language, the references to child sacrifice, all evoke images of that most ancient of antisemitic tropes: the blood libel. The authors may believe that they have steered a careful course by aiming these matters at an organisation, Hamas, rather than all Palestinians, but the association is there. If an advertisement was couched in similar terms but the organisation named was the IDF rather than Hamas, I can’t imagine the Guardian would run it – I certainly hope it wouldn’t. I think that’s the issue.

Of course, the difference between charging soldiers of the Jewish State with a blood libel (the historic allegation that Jews murder non-Jews, especially children, and use their blood for religious rituals, part of a broader narrative regarding Jewish “murder-lust”) vs leveling such charges at Hamas is that there is no history of racist anti-Palestinian blood libel tropes.

However, there’s another claim in Elliott’s critique of the ad which is even more dubious:

Each advertisement has clearly got to be decided on a case-by-case basis, bearing in mind not just specific criteria but the context of the times as well. I entirely support the argument that freedom of expression means the freedom to offend. On that basis I don’t think it was wrong to run an advertisement that expressed a viewpoint, with which the Guardian has no sympathy, about the alleged use of human shields by Hamas, which the organisation has strenuously denied. But there are always limits. 

So, Hamas has “strenuously denied” the charge? Really?

Evidently, Elliott didn’t see this widely circulated MEMRI clip of Hamas Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri (from Al-Aqsa TV on July 8th) commenting on one of the many well-documented ‘human shield’ incidents.

Contrary to Elliott’s claim, the official Hamas spokesman couldn’t possibly have been clearer about the use of human shields: “We in Hamas call upon our people to adopt this policy“.  

Following CiF Watch post, Guardian removes reference to ‘powerful Jewish lobby’

Though our complaint to the Guardian this morning has thus far gone unanswered, we’re pleased they removed an extremely gratuitous (and pejorative) reference to Jews in a column by Ian Black and Martin Chulov (Israeli forces seize rockets ‘destined for Gaza’ in raid on Iranian ship in Red Sea, March 6).

Here’s the original passage which we highlighted in our post:

The seizure follows a visit this week by the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, to Washington, where he used a meeting with Barack Obama and a stump speech to the powerful Jewish lobby AIPAC to underscore his reservations about a nuclear deal with Iran.

Here’s the passage now:

The seizure follows a visit this week by the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, to Washington, where he used a meeting with Barack Obama and a stump speech to the powerful pro-Israeli lobby AIPAC to underscore his reservations about a nuclear deal with Iran.

As we argued earlier, AIPAC is not a Jewish organization, and the decision by Black and Chulov to use the term “powerful Jewish lobby” is inconsistent with the warnings of the Guardian Readers’ editor Chris Elliott (in a column in 2011) to their journalists and commentators to avoid “language long associated with antisemitic tropes such as Jews having too much power and control”.

Whilst, unfortunately, there’s no editor’s note below the article explaining the new wording, we’re of course glad they saw fit to make the revision. 

UPDATE: Guardian editors did respond to our email, and noted that the article includes the following addendum:

update

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Jonathan Freedland’s blindspot on antisemitism

Though we’re often in disagreement with his politics on Israel, Jonathan Freedland is one of the few Guardian journalists who takes the issue of antisemitism seriously, and his latest essay at ‘Comment is Free’, ‘Antisemitism does not always come with a Hitler salute does something quite extraordinary. Freedland not only does a competent job discussing the various manifestations of anti-Jewish bigotry but also, at least indirectly, calls out two fellow Guardian contributors for their antisemitic discourse.

freedland

First, Freedland frames the essay:

The Daily Mail’s sustained assault on the late Ralph Miliband, the Marxist scholar it branded “The Man Who Hated Britain”. Some detect a whiff of anti-Jewish prejudice, some swear there is no such thing. When pressed on the point by the BBC, Ed Miliband himself declined to add antisemitism to his list of charges against the paper.

All of which, I imagine, must make it hard for the open-minded outsider, the non-Jew keen to oppose all forms of racism. They know they’re against antisemitism, but how exactly to spot it? When is the line crossed? Where, in fact, is the line? In the spirit of public service, let me attempt an answer.

He then notes the persistence of antisemitism in the Middle East and even links to a report by Tom Gross on antisemitic cartoons in the Arab world.

[Antisemitism] is not a phenomenon safely buried in the past. Just because hatred of Jews reached a murderous climax in the 1940s does not mean it ended with the war in 1945. It is alive and well even in 2013. Whether it’s on Twitter or in the cartoons that routinely appear in much of today’s Middle Eastern press, crude slurs and hideous caricatures of Jews – hook-nosed and money-grabbing – endure.

Later in the essay, Freedland makes reference to two particularly egregious examples of antisemitism at the Guardian:

In the antisemitic imagination, Jews are constantly working for some other, hidden goal. In this, antisemitism stands apart from other racisms, which tend to view the hated as straightforwardly inferior. Antisemitism is instead a conspiracy theory of power, believing that the Jews – always operating as a collective – are bent on some grand plan of world domination. Which is why images of Jews as puppet masters, or of having the world in their financial grips”, as Baroness Jenny Tonge so memorably put it, always hit a nerve.

The “puppet masters” reference links to a piece by Guardian readers’ editor Chris Elliott (Accusations of antisemitism against a political cartoon) criticizing an ugly cartoon by Steve Bell last November which depicted the Israeli prime minister as a puppet master controlling Tony Blair and William Hague.

Freedland continues:

And always on hand for the antisemite is some reference to Jews’ religious practice, real or imagined. For centuries, those who hate Jews would throw the phrase “chosen people” back in their faces, falsely interpreting it as a mandate for Jewish supremacism. 

His “chosen people” reference links to another essay by the Guardian’s readers’ editor (On averting accusations of antisemitism) which called out the shameful antisemitic use of the term “chosen people” by Deborah Orr. 

Freedland continues, rightfully pointing to the persistent tropes which evoke the classic antisemitic narrative of ‘dual loyalty': 

Instead, there are familiar tunes, some centuries old, which are played again and again. An especially hoary trope is the notion of divided allegiances or plain disloyalty, as if, whatever their outward pretence, Jews really serve another master besides their country. Under Stalin, Jews, especially Jewish intellectuals, were condemned as “rootless cosmopolitans” (another euphemism) lacking in sufficient patriotism. The Mail’s insistence that Miliband Sr was not only disloyal but actively hated his country fits comfortably in that tradition.

Freedland didn’t provide a link or cite any concrete examples of commentators employing such racist canards, so we thought it would be helpful to point to a colleague of Freedland’s at the Guardian who has engaged in such tropes on numerous occasions. His name is Glenn Greenwald. 

Here are a few quotes from Greenwald imputing such disloyalty:

  • Large and extremely influential Jewish donor groups are the ones agitating for a US war against Iran, and that is the case because those groups are devoted to promoting Israel’s interests.” – Feb. 3, 2007
  • “Those [American Jews] who favor the attack on Gaza are certainly guilty…of such overwhelming emotional and cultural attachment to Israel and Israelis that they long ago ceased viewing this conflict with any remnant of objectivity.” – Jan. 4, 2009
  • “The point is that the power the [Israel lobby] exercises [is] harmful in the extreme. They use it to squelch debate, destroy the careers and reputations of those who deviate from their orthodoxies, and compel both political parties to maintain strict adherence to an agenda that is held by a minority of Americans; that is principally concerned with the interests of a foreign country.” – March 11, 2009 Salon
  • “[Charles] Freeman is being dragged through the mud by the standard cast of accusatory Israel-centric neocons (Marty Peretz, Jon Chait, Jeffrey Goldberg, Commentary, The Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb, etc. etc., etc.).” –March 9, 2009 
  • “Meanwhile, one of the many Israel-Firsters in the U.S. Congress — Rep. Anthony Weiner, last seen lambasting President Obama for daring to publicly mention a difference between the U.S. and Israel — today not only defended Israel’s attack. – June 1, 2010

We of course don’t know if Freedland has had the pleasure of meeting his new colleague but – insofar as he truly takes antisemitism seriously – we humbly suggest that he at least familiarize himself with Greenwald’s record of anti-imperialist inspired Judeophobia which we continue to document at this blog. 

Guardian cartoonist draws upon antisemitic stereotypes in depicting Henry Kissinger

Here’s a recent photo of former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

kissinger

Now, here’s how Kissinger was depicted on June 8th by Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson, in a cartoon about the annual meeting of the Bilderberg Group in Watford. (The Bilderberg Group is  a policy forum consisting of influential people in business, finance and politics which consistently provides fodder for conspiracy theories due to the relative secrecy of the meetings.)

Martin Rowson cartoon 8.6.2013

Here’s a closeup.

rowson

A few observations:

  • Though the Bilderberg meeting includes other former political leaders vilified by some due to their involvement in foreign wars, such as Tony Blair for instance, Rowson chose only Kissinger (A German-born Jew) to depict as having blood on his (oversized) hands – inspired, presumably, by his role under President Nixon during the wars in Vietnam and Cambodia.
  • Despite the antisemitic history of such caricatures – historically, the ‘big hooked nose’ (often in conjunction with a sneering expression) on a Jew is typically meant to suggest his depravity – Rowson chose to include such a stereotypically exaggerated nose among Kissinger’s other grotesque features. 
  • Rowson’s history at the Guardian includes cartoons which have employed similar motifs, including such facial features and the gratuitous use of blood to illustrate putatively sadistic Jewish behavior. Here’s one, titled Mindless in Gaza”, of Ariel Sharon from 2001:

GraunSharonSampson.jpg

Additionally, to provide further visual context, here’s a collection of Nazi and Arab antisemitic depictions – focusing on the hooked nose and oversized hands – which CAMERA published during the row over Gerald Scarfe’s ‘Sunday Times’ cartoon.  (Scarfe’s cartoon, which Rowson defended in an essay at the Guardian, is on the top right.)

anti semitic cartoons

Indeed,  if you compare Rowson’s cartoon with the most extreme racist depictions of Jews in the 20th century it isn’t difficult to see the overlapping facial features.  Here’s a side-by-side comparison of Rowson’s Kissinger with the infamous Nazi antisemitic caricature published by Julius Streicher’s Der Sturmer, titled ‘The Poisonous Mushroom':

mushroom

Whilst we’re not suggesting that Rowson was intentionally evoking such comparisons, the Guardian’s readers’ editor Chris Elliott, in a post responding to criticism over Steve Bell’s Nov. 15 cartoon depicting William Hague and Tony Blair as puppets being controlled by Bibi Netanyahu, wrote the following:

I don’t believe that Bell is an antisemite, nor do I think it was his intention to draw an antisemitic cartoon. However, using the image of a puppeteer when drawing a Jewish politician inevitably echoes past antisemitic usage of such imagery, no matter the intent.

The Holocaust and its causes are still within living memory. While journalists and cartoonists should be free to express an opinion that Netanyahu is opportunistic and manipulative, in my view they should not use the language – including the visual language – of antisemitic stereotypes.

Echoing Elliott, whether or not Martin Rowson had racist intent is not as relevant as the more fundamental point: that a cartoonist for a “liberal” broadsheet should possess the moral decency to strenuously avoid employing visual language which historically represented the major antisemitic motifs in the long and bloody persecution of Jews.

Guardian deletes ALL reader comments from Glenn Greenwald’s Woolwich related posts (Updated)

A CiF Watcher recently informed us that every one of the comments beneath the line of Glenn Greenwald’s two Woolwich terror attack related commentaries disappeared without warning.  

Greenwald’s posts (‘Was the London killing of a British soldier ‘terrorism?’, May 23, and ‘Andrew Sullivan, terrorism and the art of distortion, May 25) both elicited an extremely large volume of comments, all of which at some point disappeared, prompting Greenwald to write the following beneath the posts.

For reasons I’ll let the Guardian explain, all of the comments to all of the columns and articles posted on the London attack were deleted, and the comment sections then closed. I hope that won’t happen to today’s column here, as the topics discussed here are not really about the attack but the broader debate about terrorism. But it’s possible that it will happen again. Those wanting to post comments should be aware of this possibility before spending your time and energy to write one.

Additionally, the comment function seems to have been turned off on every other Woolwich related commentary we could find at CiF, even beneath a post by the Guardian’s readers’ editor Chris Elliott which addressed the paper’s coverage of the attack.

Below Greenwald’s brief explanation, the Guardian has added the following:

Comments have been removed for legal reasons. Further explanation of UK law around active court cases here

The link takes you to a post by Bella Mackie, from over a year ago, titled ‘Why we sometimes turn off comments‘, which cites the Guardian’s director of editorial legal services, Gill Phillips.  Here is his explanation:

As publishers we are legally responsible for all the output that we produce whether it be news stories, comment above or below the line, and our tweets etc. This applies equally to matters of contempt as it does to matters of defamation.

Section 1 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 states that it is a contempt of court to publish material that creates a substantial risk of serious prejudice in proceedings from the period that a defendant is arrested to the date that they are sentenced or found not guilty of an offence. This is known as the active period. This provision is designed to ensure that people get a fair trial and applies once anyone has been arrested. Section 1 creates a “strict liability” offence, so intent is irrelevant.

Legally speaking, charging a suspect has no particular significance in terms of what can or cannot be reported because the active period starts on arrest. Practically speaking however, it can be said that the risks of adversely affecting a trial increase once someone has been charged, particularly with a serious offence because (i) you know there will be a trial; and (ii) you know that the trial will be before a jury; (iii) and you know that the trial will take place sooner rather than later. The closer the trial gets, arguably the greater the risk because matter will start to stick in the minds of potential jurors.

The sort of matters that traditionally have been held to be in contempt include (i) publishing anything that suggests the defendants are in fact guilty or prejudges the outcome; (ii) publishing “bad character” material or previous convictions about them; (iii) publishing derogatory matter about them; (iv) publishing any material/evidence which it is possible the jury would not be told about.

We have to be particularly cautious about tweets and about “below the line” discussions of matters which are not pre-moderated and where we cannot expect members of the public to know the subtleties of the law of contempt.

There is a defence to contempt for “fair and accurate” court reports that protects us for example in terms of reporting the Leveson inquiry, providing we do so “fairly and accurately”. Often below-the-line comments do not simply “fairly and accurately” report what was said as opposed to passing comment on it so, as we have responsibilities as the publisher of all the material on our website (whether above or below the line), we do have to be very careful about allowing comments on Leveson pieces that touch on or refer to anyone who has been arrested. Generally speaking therefore, given that we would not want to run the risk of prejudicing someone’s right to a fair trial, it is sensible for us to maintain a situation where we restrict comments on pieces once people have been arrested because of the dangers of people posting prejudicial remarks.”

Mackie then adds additional possible reasons why CiF may turn comments off, none of which seem to apply in this case.

So, did the Guardian remove all of the comments beneath Greenwald’s commentary – and turn off comments for the other Woolwich related CiF pieces – for fear of prejudicing the future trial of Michael Olumide Adebolajo and the other suspects?

Greenwald has been uncharacteristically silent about the matter on Twitter, but we’ll do our best to try keeping you updated on this strange decision by Guardian editors as more facts become available. 

UPDATE: ‘Comment is Free’ editor Natalie Hanman just posted an explanation why comments were turned off for the Woolwich related commentary. Here it is:

There has been some confusion from commenters as to why we have turned off the ability to comment on Comment is free articles about the Woolwich attack. In an ideal world, we would allow our readers to debate all of the articles we run on the site, but we felt it was sensible for us to restrict comments on these pieces because once people have been arrested there is a risk of contempt of court if users post prejudicial remarks about the case. Following consultation with our lawyers and community moderators, we will endeavour from now on, where resources allow, to have one premoderated thread on the topic open each day. Today’s article from Boya Dee is here.

 

CiF Watch complaint to PCC prompts Guardian to begrudgingly revise Rachel Corrie op-ed

The Guardian’s coverage of the culmination of the civil law suit brought by the parents of Rachel Corrie – a verdict which was handed down in Haifa on August 28th, 2012 – was characteristically obsessive, tendentious and breezily unconcerned with the facts.

The Guardian’s coverage of the Israeli court ruling dismissing the Corrie’s suit – which included several reports by Harriet Sherwood, a deeply offensive cartoon, and an especially malign piece by Chris McGreal - culminated in an official Guardian editorial, titled ‘Rachel Corrie: A memory which refuses to die

The editorial, which was dripping with contempt, included this passage on the ruling:

“Perpetuating the myth that her death was a tragic accident, the judge did not deviate from the official line.”

The Guardian seemed to all but ignore the evidence – if indeed the author(s) of the editorial even bothered to read the English summary which was posted online the same day the ruling was issued – presented in the trial, and the judge’s statements, which led to the the newspaper stating unequivocally that:

“Rachel Corrie died trying to protect a Palestinian home from demolition.” 

However, the Court of Law in Haifa, Israel, which heard the case presented by Rachel Corrie’s family, ruled otherwise. In his verdict, Judge Oded Gershon rejected the claim that Ms. Corrie had been protecting a house from demolition at the time of her death.

The judge ruled as follows: 

The mission of the IDF force on the day of the incident was solely to clear the ground. This clearing and leveling included leveling the ground and clearing it of brush in order to expose hiding places used by terrorists, who would sneak out from these areas and place explosive devices with the intent of harming IDF soldiers. There was an urgency to carrying out this mission so that IDF look-outs could observe the area and locate terrorists thereby preventing explosive devices from being buried. The mission did not include, in any way, the demolition of homes. The action conducted by the IDF forces was done at real risk to the lives of the soldiers. Less than one hour before the incident that is the focus of this lawsuit, a live hand-grenade was thrown at the IDF forces.

All the above information was provided to Chris Elliott, Readers’ Editor of the Guardian, by my colleague Hadar Sela, in a series of communications  beginning on August 30th 2012. Mr Elliott, however, chose not to make a correction, which prompted CiF Watch to bring the matter before the UK Press Complaints Commission. 

Sela argued that Guardian’s statement that “Rachel Corrie died trying to protect a Palestinian home from demolition” had been proven to be untrue in a court of law prior to the editorial being published.

After many months, and a series of correspondences between Sela, the PCC and Guardian editors stubbornly resistant to admitting error, the Guardian begrudgingly agreed to amend their editorial to acknowledge that the Israeli court ruling contradicted claims that Corrie was preventing a home demolition on that day.

pcc

Whilst the result is far from ideal, it’s important that the Guardian was forced to acknowledge that an Israeli judicial proceeding heard evidence, engaged in serious deliberations, and came to a conclusion at odds with the lethal narratives about the Jewish state routinely advanced by Palestinian activists that the paper unquestioningly accepted as fact in their editorial.  

Indeed, it’s worth noting anytime the Guardian is forced to deviate from their ‘official line’ on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

(Additionally, a CiF Watch complaint to the Telegraph – which repeated the same error about Corrie’s actions on the day she was killed, and used a photo which the caption falsely claimed was taken “moments before she died”, by Adrian Blomfield – was revised, and then, at some point, completely removed from their site.)

Steve Bell has fun with antisemitic tropes

 

Here’s a Steve Bell cartoon published on Feb. 4, in response to an apology by Sunday Times’ owner Rupert Murdoch over the controversial Gerald Scarfe cartoon.

bell (1)(The second frame is a reference to a comment by Murdoch in November, complaining that the “Jewish owned media” is consistently anti-Israel.  The final frame is a reference to Sooty, a popular glove bear and TV character from the 50s.)

As we noted in our post, the cartoon could arguably be interpreted as suggesting that Zionists have a significant degree of control over the media.

Today, Feb. 5, Bell revisited the trio of Murdoch, Bibi and Sooty, and published this, titled ‘On Murdoch, Netanyahu and the little bludger.

bell

If, Bell is indeed perplexed – or, perhaps, amused – with the notion of “antisemitic tropes”, I know just the right person to help him understand its significance.

Guardian readers’ editor Chris Elliott – who criticized Bell’s cartoon in Nov. which depicted Netanyahu controlling Blair and Hague like puppets, and warned: “…using the image of a puppeteer when drawing a Jewish politician inevitably echoes past antisemitic usage of such imagery” – wrote the following in Nov. 2011, in a post titled ‘On averting accusations of antisemitism“:

[Comment is Free] moderators…are experienced in spotting the kind of language long associated with antisemitic tropes such as Jews having too much power and control, or being clannish and secretive, or the role of Jews in finance and the media.

However, regardless of whether Bell understands (or takes seriously) the lethal history of such racist tropes employed against Jews, a bit of research into his work may provide some insight into why (per his BBC Radio debate with Stephen Pollard) he was so dismissive of accusations that the Scarfe cartoon arguably evoked the antisemitic blood libel.

These cartoons are on Bell’s website: (Below each cartoon is the exact caption used by Bell to identify and date the image.)

2002, blood motif.

1745-12-4-02SHARONBLOODFLAG

1745-12-4-02SHARONBLOODFLAG

2001, blood motif.

1560-7-2-01_SHALOMSHARON

1560-7-2-01 SHALOMSHARON

 

2001, blood motif

1561-8-2-01_WAILINGWALL

1561-8-2-01 WAILINGWALL

Finally, here are two Bell cartoons which evoke an entirely different trope.

1998, Jews as ‘Chosen People’. 

4291-4-5-98_GODSCHOSEN

4291-4-5-98 GODSCHOSEN

1998, Jews as ‘Chosen People':

4293-4-5-98_GODSCHOSEN

4293-6-5-98 GODSCHOSEN

Here’s another relevant passage from Chris Elliott’s post on antisemitism noted above:

“Two weeks ago a columnist [Deborah Orr] used the term “the chosen” in an item on the release of Gilad Shalit, which brought more than 40 complaints to the Guardian, and an apology from the columnist the following week. “Chosenness”, in Jewish theology, tends to refer to the sense in which Jews are “burdened” by religious responsibilities; it has never meant that the Jews are better than anyone else. Historically it has been antisemites, not Jews, who have read “chosen” as code for Jewish supremacism.”

Guardian reader bemoans the effectiveness of CiF Watch

The following reader comment beneath the line of a Steve Bell cartoon on Feb. 4 – which, as we argued in a post, could arguably be interpreted as suggesting that Zionists have a significant degree of control over the media – was priceless.

as

It didn’t occur on the date the reader believed, but on Nov. 6, 2011, there was indeed a post by Guardian readers’ editor Chris Elliott which made a thinly veiled reference to CiF Watch, and argued that “reporters, editors and writers” must be more careful to avoid “lapses into language resonant of antisemitism”.

Whilst, I don’t know if anything we do, per the comment above, can exactly be characterized as “well-orchestrated” and, per SantaMoniker, the idea that we’re “powerful” is risible.  Additionally, antisemitism at the Guardian clearly has not disappeared since Elliott’s warning (Bell’s cartoon on Nov. 15 depicting Bibi controlling Blair and Hague as puppets suggests the limits of Elliott’s control over such content), but if the result of our work is that the Guardian is even a little bit more careful to avoid having their voice “diminished” by evoking antisemitic canards, then we’re clearly doing something right. 

 

Chris McGreal makes 3rd unforced error in story on footballers signing anti-Israel petition

The Guardian’s Chris McGreal (recently singled out in a CST Report on Antisemitic Discourse) recently published a story about a petition signed by some footballers calling for European football’s governing body to cancel Israel’s hosting of a 2013 European competition in response to the Gaza war.  (‘Footballers condemn plans to hold U21 European Championship in Israel‘, Guardian, Nov. 30)

However, after a CiF Watch post demonstrated that two of the footballers cited by McGreal as signing the petition – former Chelsea player Didier Drogba and Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye - flatly denied signing it, the Guardian revised McGreal’s piece accordingly, and noted the following on their corrections page.

correction

Well, it looks like the Guardian’s ‘Corrections’ editor will have more work to do, as the Daily Mail is reporting that another footballer cited by McGreal, Chelsea forward Eden Hazard, has also denied signing the petition.

The Daily Mail’s Charles Sale wrote:

“Hazard had not contributed to the petition. His agent John Bico said: ‘Eden never speaks about his political opinions and he certainly never signed anything.'” 

You can email Guardian readers’ editor Chris Elliott (reader@guardian.co.uk), and Tweet Chris McGreal (@ChrisMcGreal), to point out the additional error. 

Hanan Ashrawi lies at ‘Comment is Free’ about homes for ‘Jews only’ in Jerusalem

Hanan Ashrawi’s ‘Comment is Free’ essay on Nov. 29, ‘Supporting Palestine today at the UN is a vote for peace in the Middle East‘, included these opening passages:

“It might seem stating the obvious that Palestinians and Israelis find solutions only through negotiation, until you look at the record. It is a story in which one side makes proposals for nothing in return; one side makes agreements that the other side breaks; and one side keeps commitments that the other side ignores.

Take a recent decision by Israel to approve 100 new homes for its Jewish citizens in the illegal settlement of Gilo, when the Israeli army was bombarding and shelling Gaza.” [emphasis added]

Though Ashrawi provides no source for her contention regarding new homes being built in Jerusalem, she is referring to this construction announcement (per Ir Amim):

“Today the Jerusalem District Committee officially announced the approval of TPS 13290 for 100 housing units in Gilo. 
According to Ir-Amim’s previous alert on May 10, the plan entails 100 residential units—three 12 story buildings—to the north, between Gilo and Bit Safafa. The plan came before the District Committee for discussion of objections on May 22. The committee rejected the objections and decided to approve the plan.”

First, here’s some relevant background to better understand the issue of home construction in Israel:

The overwhelming majority of land in Israel is owned by the government, and administered (since 1960) by the Israeli Land Administration (ILA), which doesn’t sell the land but, rather, leases it out. (Only about 6.5% of the land in Israel is privately owned.)  The ILA leases government-owned land to all Israeli citizens (Jews, Arabs, Muslims, Christians, Druze, etc.), legal Israeli residents (including Arabs living in the East part of Jerusalem) or foreigners who would qualify for citizenship under the ‘law of return’. 

In the particular case Ashrawi is referring to, these homes would not exclude anyone based on religion.

Moreover, Ashrawi’s false assertion likely represents a broader attempt to impute racism (or even the more unserious charge of ‘ethnic cleansing’) into the Jerusalem building equation, ignoring the fact that Muslims in the city, both in total numbers and as an overall percentage of the population, have increased significantly since 1948.

In fact, the Muslim population of Jerusalem increased roughly 5 fold from 1967 (when Israel unified the city) to 2009, from 58,000 to over 278,000, while the Jewish population increased by a factor of only 2.8, from 196,000 to 480,000.

Beyond the broader dishonest narrative advanced by Ashrawi, however, her narrow claim that Israel has approved “100 new homes for its Jewish citizens” in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo is flat-out untrue. 

Please consider contacting Chris Elliott, the Guardian’s readers editor, to request a correction to Ashrawi’s lie.

reader@guardian.co.uk
(Editor’s note: This post was corrected on December 23 to correct a mistake in the original. I initially wrote that Ashrawi was likely referring to an announcement that 180 new homes would be set aside in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo for Israeli security personnel. This was not, we learned, the construction that Ashrawi was referring to.  The 100 homes mentioned in her commentary are to be built in East Talpiyot between Gilo and Bit Safafa, according to the Jerusalem District Committee. See the Ir Amim link above.)

‘Comment is Free’ publishes an essay by a Hamas leader…again.

IDF strikes on Nov. 18 knocked out the Hamas television stations Al Aqsa and Al Quds in Gaza, but Hamas leaders were likely not too concerned, and knew they could always count on Plan B: Propagandizing at the Guardian.

In fact, later that same day, Nov. 18, a ‘Comment is Free’ essay by the deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau, Musa Abumarzuq, was published – one out of several members of the Islamist terror group who has been published by the paper which aspires to be the ‘world’s leading liberal voice’.

Other than Abumarzuq, who published a previous essay at CiF in 2011, the list includes Hamas ‘Prime Minister’ Ismail Haniyeh, their head of international relations Osama Hamdan, and their advisor‘, Azzam Tamimi.

Abumarzuq’s piece, ‘We in the Gaza Strip will not die in silence‘, is full of unserious, vitriolic claims befitting a group whose founding charter cites the antisemitic forgery ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ as “proof” that Jews indeed are trying to take over the world.

However, Abumarzuq also advances a narrative of Israeli villainy which had already found fertile ground within the Guardian coven of “journalists” and commentators.  Echoing the “analysis” of  Harriet SherwoodSimon Tisdall, Ahdaf Soueif, and Jonathan Freedland, on the “real reasons” for Israeli operation ‘Pillar of Defense’, the Hamas apparatchik writes the following:

“With the approach of the Israeli elections, the Israeli prime minister,Binyamin Netanyahu, wanted to trade with the blood of the Palestinians, especially after his alliance with the ultra-extremist Avigdor Lieberman failed to boost his popularity in the polls as he’d expected. This is not the first time the Israelis have launched a war for electoral gain. Shimon Peres did it to Lebanon in 1996 and the Olmert-Livni-Barak alliance did it to Gaza in 2008.”

Interestingly,  Abumarzuq’s rhetoric is restrained compared to Ahdaf Soueif (a frequent CiF contributor) who, in her piece, literally accused Israeli leaders of murdering Palestinian children for political gain.

Turning to the issue of supreme concern to the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, “human rights”, Abumarzuq complains thus:

“The human rights that Europe claims to defend all over the world are denied to the Palestinian people.”

Which freedoms are cruelly denied to Palestinians, per Abumarzuq?

“The right of people to resist occupation and confront aggression is guaranteed to all peoples; but if Palestinians seek to exercise this right it immediately becomes terrorism and for this they must be persecuted.”

Yes, of course. The Palestinians’ ‘universal’ right of “resistance”, murdering civilians with impunity, is stymied by their cruel Jewish oppressors.

Abumarzuq then adds the following:

“The Israeli military attacks on Gaza did not stop after the last Gaza war. Since 2009, 271 Palestinians have been killed, compared to three Israeli deaths.”

The numbers he cites about Israeli deaths are incorrect.

There have been 3 Israeli deaths since Nov. 14, when operation ‘Pillar of Defense’ began, but the Israeli death toll from Gaza terror attacks since 2009 is 13, not 3.

While you can contact the Guardian’s readers’ editor, Chris Elliott, at readers@guardian.co.uk, to request that Abumarzuq’s lie be corrected, perhaps you should consider asking Mr. Elliott a more pertinent question:

How does he reconcile the ‘progressive’ politics he and the paper he works for evidently aspire to with their decision to continue providing a platform to violent religious extremists who represent ultra right-wing values on issues such as democracy, freedom of the press, the rights of women, gays, and religious minorities?

Though I don’t expect anything resembling an honest answer from Elliott, he and his colleagues need to be confronted with the mounting evidence of their supreme moral hypocrisy. 

US Congressional resolution supporting Israel makes Glenn Greenwald’s head explode

Western government support for Israel’s right to defend it’s citizens against Hamas really infuriates some people.

Those who routinely demonize the Jewish state and parrot the most ludicrous claims about Israeli villainy – and excuse or ignore the racism, incitement and violence of Islamist extremists in the region – simply can’t wrap their mind around the fact their anti-Zionist view is extremely marginal.

The mind of Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell was evidently ready to explode upon hearing the expressions of support for Israel by British foreign secretary William Hague and former PM Tony Blair. So, Bell expressed, in cartoon form, his belief that the only possible explanation for this maddening political dynamic is the puppeteer like control exercised over the subservient British leaders by Israel’s Prime Minister.

Another ‘anti-Zionist head-exploding’ moment occurred when the U.S. House and Senate overwhelmingly passed non-binding resolutions backing “Israel’s right to self-defense”.

There’s nothing unusual about such a resolution, as popular support for Israel in America, based on polling by Gallup over the last 45 years, has been consistent and overwhelming – a fact which CiF contributor Glenn Greenwald, whose fear of powerful Jewish forces in the U.S. borders on the conspiratorial, simply can’t fathom.

He expressed his frustration today, thus: 

Poor Glenn. The Congressional resolutions, which audaciously affirmed that “no nation”, including Israel, “can tolerate constant barrages of rockets against its civilian population”, actually passed unanimously

In his essay on Nov. 2011, on ‘averting accusations of antisemitism‘, Guardian readers editor Chris Elliott warned Guardian journalists and commentators to avoid “antisemitic tropes such as Jews having too much power and control.”

Elliott also noted that “three times” he had “upheld complaints against language within articles [which] could be read as antisemitic”, such as his decision to delete the term “slavish” (to describe the US relationship with Israel) from a report by Chris McGreal.

Glenn Greenwald’s characterization of the democratically elected U.S. legislative body as “subservient” to Israel (and/or the Jewish lobby) similarly contains antisemitic undertones, but also represents, to quote Walter Russel Mead, a sign that the ‘Comment is Free’ contributor is among those who are “baffled, frustrated and the bewildered” and therefore “seek[s] a grand, simplifying hypothesis that can bring some kind of ordered explanation to a confusing world.”

“Anti-Semitism”, wrote Mead, “is one of the glittering frauds that attract the overwhelmed and the uncomprehending.”

The anti-Zionist left is increasingly defined as much by their intellectual laziness as they are by their blind subservience to the logic of historically right-wing Judeophobic narratives regarding the dangers of Jewish control.

Following our post, Guardian amends story claiming Hezbollah drone was shot down over Palestinian territory

On Oct. 14 we posted about a Guardian video story on Oct. 12 which falsely claimed that the Hezbollah drone which flew into Israel on Oct. 6 was shot down by the IDF over “Palestinian” territory.

Note the text on the screen (a screen shot from the original Guardian video) claiming that the drone was shot down over “Palestinian territory”.

However, the drone, which was launched from Lebanon, was not shot down over Palestinian territory.  

As we noted at the time, the UAV traveled down the Mediterranean coast before crossing into Israel from Gaza. Then, it traveled east across Israel’s Negev desert, and was shot down above the Yatir Forest – south of the border with the West Bank, clearly inside Israel.

Here’s a map we included in our post.

A = Israeli Yatir Forrest

Towards the end of our post, we asked readers to contact Chris Elliott, the Guardian’s Readers’ Editor, to point out the error.

It just came to our attention that on Oct. 17, a few days after our post, the Guardian corrected their error.  Here’s the text from their ‘Corrections and Clarifications‘ page.

Here’s a sincere thanks to those of you who heeded our suggestion and alerted the Guardian about their mistake.

(Final note: On the same Guardian ‘Corrections‘ page linked to above, there is another correction based on a CiF Watch report, concerning a false claim by ‘CiF’ columnist John Pilger about the death toll during the Gaza War.)

CiF moderators delete comments noting Guardian’s moral hypocrisy over Trevino Tweet

H/T Margie

The following CiF comment, beneath the line of a post by Guardian Readers’ Editor Chris Elliott’s on the Trevino affair, pointed out the hypocrisy of the outrage over Trevino’s one Tweet, in the context of the Guardian’s licensing of racist extremists who advocate terror. (See AKUS’s take on Elliott’s defense, here)

The comment was deleted by ‘Comment is Free’ moderators, so ‘Henrybrav’ posted it again. It was then deleted without a trace, and ‘Henrybrav‘ informed us that he was put on pre-moderation.

Then, ‘Henrybrav’ re-registered as ‘Bravhenry’ and re-posted the same comment, including text informing readers that he (‘Henrybrav’) had been put on pre-moderation, and that he did not expect his comment (as ‘Bravhenry’) to stay up for long. He also suggested that other commenters should ask the same question.

That comment was quickly deleted, and ‘Bravhenry’ was banned completely.

As you may recall, our August 21st post pointed out that off-topic and quite vicious ad hominem attacks against Josh Trevino (accusing him of advocating murder) beneath the line of his inaugural post at CiF, by the likes of Ali Abunimah and Ben White, were not deleted by CiF moderators.

So, it seems that it is okay for CiF commenters to impute the absolute worst motives to pro-Israel commentators, but forbidden to point out the moral hypocrisy of Guardian editors – which – in its most egregious manifestation – includes legitimizing the voices of Islamist terror.

The Trevino episode continues to demonstrate the Guardian’s true illiberal nature – as well as the boundless hubris and hypocrisy exhibited by their editors.

The Guardian’s Pathetic Excuse for Firing Joshua Treviño

A guest post by AKUS

Since we are now supposed to believe that the Guardian’s entire case for firing Josh Treviño rests on the basis of an undisclosed conflict of interest, I wish to make a full disclosure before continuing:

“I had never heard of Treviño before this, to the best of my knowledge. I have never read anything by him, not even his articles in the Guardian.”

There – now we’ve got that out-of-the-way  let’s turn our attention to Chris Elliott’s bizarre attempt to brush this scandal under the carpet: The readers’ editor on… the bruising fallout from a writer’s offensive tweet.


Actually, we don’t really need to read any further than this strap line to understand why Treviño was pink-slipped. Clearly, it was the “almost 200 complaints” the Guardian received from its loyal if rapidly shrinking readership, and not the excuse given – that he omitted to reveal a conflict of interest

What seems to have been overlooked in the commentary about this affair is that in order to justify the dismissal the Guardian seized on a complaint from an undisclosed source about lack of disclosure on another topic altogether that pre-dated Treviño’s new role as a contract columnist by 18 months:

“There was a second complaint on Thursday 23 August received by senior editorial staff in the US and referred to the readers’ editor. This concerns another blogpost Treviño had written as a contributor to the Guardian’s US site – before he was on contract – on 28 February 2011 about a Republican congressman’s inquiry into Islamic radicalisation, which quoted the Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak.”

Quite simply, the Guardian built a case for caving in to the Electronic Intifada and Palestinian Solidarity Campaign mob by noting Treviño did not footnote an article written some 18 months earlier (NOT the recent article) that had nothing to do with his first article under contract.

The Guardian states: 

“[Treviño] had been a consultant for an agency retained by Malaysian business interests and ran a website called Malaysia Matters, which should have led to a footnote disclosing the relationship.” 

Good Lord! Treviño quoted the Malaysian prime minister 18 months before he was contracted “on the eve of the Republican convention and in the middle of an already vicious and highly partisan election campaign, [to] explain and analyse the politics of the US Republican party.” Nothing to do with Malaysia. They simply were handed a hook to hang him on by their undisclosed source that they used to pretend they were not caving in to anti-Israeli bigots.

Had Treviño continued writing for the Guardian he might even have quoted a Republican without adding a footnote that he was a US citizen or Republican, thus once again breaching the Guardian’s “necessarily broad” guidelines, as Treviño put it in the joint statement he released with the Guardian.

Just to make sure they dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s, the Guardian has updated Treviño’s 2011 article:

But what was the horrifying quote from the Malaysian PM that Treviño used without disclosing his conflict of interest?

In fact, the “conflict of interest” was so tenuous as to be essentially non-existent. You couldn’t make this up – the man who anti-Israeli activists Ben White and Ali Abunimah and the rest of them fought to have dismissed called for the US Congress to view Muslims and Islam in a more positive light!

Trevino wrote:

“Consider, too, what Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told me this past Wednesday in Istanbul (from where I am writing), when we discussed the Muslim Brotherhood in a group conversation about Islam and democracy [see footnote (i.e., the new Guardian footnote)].

The Brotherhood, said the PM, “shouldn’t be part of the [democratic] process as long as they don’t reject violence and extremism … Anyone who wants to be part of the political process should adopt values that are compatible with democracy.”

That’s a Muslim democratic head of state affirming some very Burkean basic principles. We shouldn’t fall prey to the conceit that Muslims abroad speak for Muslims at home, nor vice versa – but might Congressman King’s hearings note that there are grounds for optimism in both camps?”

Noam Cohen, writing for the New York Times, noted the irony of Abunimah’s success in shooting Muslims in the foot in The Guardian Backtracks From a Bold Move in Hiring.

“The post that caused Mr. Treviño’s departure was in fact a defense of American Muslims against Congressional hearings, a bit of irony not lost on Mr. Abunimah. When asked if having The Guardian part ways with Mr. Treviño over an article sympathetic to Muslims was akin to convicting Al Capone on tax evasion (my clarification of the appropriateness of this particular metaphor will appear next week), Mr. Abunimah said the thought had already come up among his friends.

Nevertheless, there was only happiness on Mr. Abunimah’s blog that The Guardian “has done the right thing.”

Janine Gibson, editor-in-chief of Guardian US (the Guardian has layers of  bureaucracy that the USSR would have envied), apparently dissatisfied with Chris Elliott’s honest revelation of the real reason for dropping Treviño had this to say in a final attempt to pretend it all did not happen the way it so obviously did:

“This has been an eye-opening week. We knew that there are dangers inherent in attempting to be fair-minded and allow our opponents as well as our friends a voice and we have learned several lessons. But I hope we will continue to try and find ways to engage with honestly held philosophies and opinions.”

Not so eye-opening for those of us who have had the jaw-dropping experience of watching a paper once known for its willingness to tolerate the opinions of others ban and dismiss all those who disagree with its Stalinist line.

Treviño joins alumni like Melanie Phillips and Julie Burchill in the honorable list of those who are personae non grata at the Guardian because they support Israel. Treviño was kicked out simply because the Guardian could not bring itself to live up to its founder’s philosophy and protect him from the Electronic Intifada unleashed upon him.

Since Elliott, at least, clearly understands why he was forced to drop Treviño, if he finds his backbone I would not be surprised if he resigned after this shameful episode. But the Guardian has no shame, facts are no longer sacred, the voices of opponents must be crushed, and that may be too much to expect.

Footnote: I have never run a website that consulted for anybody that was retained by somebody. Or whatever.