Peter Sellars in the Guardian: “Nobody is allowed to discuss Palestine”

The word “censorship” generally refers to cases where “an instrument of government” uses the power of state to prevent citizens from exercising their right to free expression in the arts, politics or in the media.

Often, however, the debate about this important subject gets blurred by unserious assertions about the West’s supposed ‘creeping descent’ into censorship, sometimes after a theater company or cinema decides not to show a controversial play or film, or merely because the production is the subject of a peaceful protest or mild rebuke.

A Nov. 20 column by playwright Peter Sellars (in the Opera section of the Guardian) calls upon this hyperbolic tradition by conflating mere criticism with outright suppression.

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Sellars helped create the original opera The Death of Klinghoffer and directed its first performance – an opera based on the 1985 hijacking of a cruise ship, in which a wheelchair-bound Jewish man was shot in the head by a Palestinian terrorist before being thrown overboard. And, Sellars devotes most of his Guardian article to the controversy surrounding the recent New York Metropolitan Opera production of this opera.

After lamenting how putatively fragile free speech is in America today, Sellars gets to the point:

Nearly 30 years ago, the passenger liner Achille Lauro was hijacked by Palestinians, who murdered and threw overboard an American Jew called Leon Klinghoffer. The story occupied the news for two weeks, then disappeared. What was the story of the century that preceded this? What was its aftermath in real terms? 

John Adams took up this challenge in 1991 with his opera The Death of Klinghoffer. Opera has always spoken to a cross-section of society. Its roots lie in Greek dramas, which were about the most difficult and dangerous topics, recognising that we can only face them if we face them as one.

Looking at something does not mean you’re endorsing it. One can abhor an event, yes, but one also needs to understand it.

He then turns to his central thesis:

Yet the US today is coming close to censorship.

Now, to his larger point about “Palestine”:

Nobody is allowed to discuss Palestine. Nobody is allowed to mention Palestinians, much less depict them. Most Americans have no idea about the history of Palestinians, or what their situation is now. When The Death of Klinghoffer was staged at New York’s Metropolitan Opera last month, it was picketed – and exploited – by extreme special-interest groups who had no interest in the actual opera, or indeed any opera.

First, the Opera was not cancelled by The Met, so it’s unclear what precisely is being censored.

More broadly, the assertion that “nobody is allowed to discuss Palestine” or “mention Palestinians” is so cut off from reality that it rises to the level of parody.

Indeed, the issue of Palestine is of course nothing short of an obsession at international bodies like the UN, and within much of the Western news media, and to claim just the opposite – that there is a dearth of conversation about Palestine and Palestinians – represents an astounding inversion of reality. 

Simply because The Death of Klinghoffer was criticized and was the object of a peaceful protest campaign – by those exercising their own right to free expression – doesn’t mean “you can’t discuss Palestine”.

It only means that you can’t expect to be immune from criticism when doing so. 

Guardian omits key context in quote by Israel spokesman about Mads Gilbert

Mads Gilbert is a Norwegian doctor, commentator and “radical Maoist politician” who openly supported the “moral right” of Al Qaeda to murder thousands of Americans on 9/11.

Mads Gilbert

Gilbert was also one of the authors of a letter published in the medical journal Lancet during the Gaza war which accused Israel of intentionally “massacring” Palestinian women and children. The journal’s editor later apologized for the letter, explaining that it “did not convey the level of complexity that is the reality in Israel.”

More recently, Gilbert was in the news after he was banned ‘for life’ from entering Israel.

Though the Guardian and Independent both covered Gilbert’s banning, a look at the way in which they cited a quote from the Israel Foreign Ministry about Gilbert is quite revealing.

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Hamas official’s Guardian op-ed includes lie that the group is NOT antisemitic

No, an op-ed published in the Guardian on Nov. 14th (Judge Hamas by the measures it takes for its people) was not the first time a Hamas member was granted a forum by the media group.  

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Guardian, Nov. 14th

 

Over the past couple of years the Guardian has published commentaries by the deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau, Musa Abumarzuq, Hamas’s ‘Prime Minister’ Ismail Haniyeh, their head of international relations Osama Hamdan, and advisor Azzam Tamimi.

However, what stands out in the piece by Ahmed Yousef (senior political adviser to Ismail Haniyeh), which attempts to rebrand the Islamist terror group as a benign democratic political movement, is a claim in the following passage, which follows a risible defense of their (evidently misunderstood) racist charter.

Were pundits to truly scrutinise Hamas’s actions since its inception, they would find not a single official statement or position that is based on denigrating another faith, certainly neither Judaism nor Christianity. Nor can anyone produce a shred of evidence that Hamas formally encourages prejudice against anyone’s ethnicity.

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The tortuous un-logic of Will Self, a Jewish un-Jew

Cross posted from the blog Simply Jews

Reading an excellent article in Contentions, What Has the Guardian Got Against Jews?, I couldn’t help myself but click on a linked article by Will Self How I Stopped Being a Jew by Shlomo Sand and Unchosen: The Memoirs of a Philo-Semite by Julie Burchill – review.

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Guardian contributor Will Self

What can I say? The article starts, as is proper for an article written by a writer – a member of the most narcissistic guild (save, probably, that of the Hollywood celebs) – with a highly personal statement:

In 2006, as the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) were undertaking their second major incursion into Lebanon, I resigned as a Jew.

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Guardian article suggests Yasser Arafat abandoned terrorism after 1990

A nearly 5000 word hagiographic profile of Yasser Arafat by  and  in the Guardian characteristically obfuscated the decades-long record of planning and carrying out terror attacks against innocent Israelis by the late Palestinian leader and groups under his control.

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Here’s the key passage in the Guardian’s ‘long-read’ (Yasser Arafat: Why he still matters, Nov. 13) concerning the man known to some as the “father of modern terrorism.”

Without armed struggle the Palestinian awakening heralded by Fatah was unlikely to have occurred, yet Arafat and his colleagues knew both the value and limits of force. They were aware of the need to modulate or discard force entirely when necessary. Their political programme developed accordingly, from an emphasis on armed action as the sole means of struggle in 1968 to its eventual disappearance from the PLO’s political programme altogether after 1990.

However, the fact is that, though in 1988 he claimed to accept Israel’s right to exist and in 1993 shook hands with Yitzchak Rabin (inaugurating the Oslo Accords), Arafat continued to encourage and provide financial support to “groups directly under his command, such as the Tanzim and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade”.

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UK media lie begins: Jewish prayer rights activists cause Palestinian terrorism

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Chaya Zissel Braun (3 months), killed by a Palestinian terrorist in Jerusalem on Oct. 22

The question of whether the recent increase in Palestinian terror attacks – which has included two lethal stabbings, and the murder of three Israelis by Palestinians who intentionally ran their vehicles into crowds of pedestrians in Jerusalem – will one day be categorized as the start of a new intifada is debatable.  

However, we can already see how the UK media will likely be framing the story if indeed the uptick in deadly attacks continue and increase: that demands by some Jews to be able to pray at the Temple Mount (the holiest site in Judaism) is responsible for the violence. 

A Nov. 6th article by the Guardian’s Peter Beaumont, following the two vehicular terror attacks, opined that “Demands for greater access have been blamed by Israelis and Palestinians for a recent increase in violent confrontations in Jerusalem”.

The Economist suggested – in an article in their print edition on Nov. 8th titled Temple Madness – that “dangerous campaign for Jewish prayer rights” is a form of “Jewish agitation” which is driving Palestinians to violence.

And, Ben Lynfield of The Independent – in a Nov. 10th report titled “Fears of new intifada: Israel is hit by wave of Palestinian violence linked to concerns over al-Aqsa mosque – was even more brazen in arguing that the recent deadly attacks on Israelis “was triggered largely by a Palestinian perception of an Israeli threat to al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, Islam’s third holiest shrine.”

There is, of course, no threat to the al-Aqsa Mosque, and Israel’s prime minister has been adamant about the need to preserve the status quo at the holy site – where Jews are allowed to visit the site, but not to pray.

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Did Daniel Barenboim use a fake Rabin quote on the pages of the Guardian?

Daniel Barenboim is an Israeli conductor and pianist who currently serves as the musical director of Berlin State Opera and the Staatskapelle Berlin. He’s also quite outspoken on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and published an op-ed at the Guardian  (Germany must talk straight with Israel, Nov. 10) arguing that Germany – due to its historic ties to the Jewish state – must take a more activist approach to coax Israel into making peace.

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Whilst the largely one-sided nature of Barenboim’s imputation of Israeli responsibility for the conflict is par for the course at the Guardian, one purported quote from his op-ed warrants closer attention.

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Guardian falsely claims right-wing Jews want to pray ‘inside al-Aqsa Mosque’

Whilst there is indeed a movement to allow Jews to pray at the Temple Mount (the holiest site in Judaism), there is no movement by religious Jews to pray inside the al-Aqsa Mosque, a mosque located on the Temple Mount compound.

Yet, a Guardian video (which accompanied a Nov. 5th article by Peter Beaumont) on the recent terror attack in Jerusalem, as well as ongoing Palestinian violence on the Temple Mount, included the following claim about the ’cause’ of the violence at the Mount, at the 1:23 mark into the video:

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Guardian Tweet on Jerusalem terror attack: Israel police shoot dead driver…

A couple of hours ago, a Palestinian from east Jerusalem affiliated with Hamas plowed his vehicle into a crowd of people at a light rail station along the seam-line between the east and west sections of the city, killing one and injuring 14, in what was clearly a terror attack.

Here’s a video showing some of the deadly attack.

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What does it say about BDS activists when the loss of 500 Palestinian jobs is a ‘victory’?

Whilst it’s not clear if SodaStream’s decision to close their plant in the West Bank town of Mishor Adumim was undertaken due to pressure from BDS activists, the reaction by the BDS Movement to the company’s decision to move production of the fizzy drink makers to a new location in the Israeli Negev – placing the employment of 500 Palestinians in jeopardy – speaks volumes about the political extremism of the movement.

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Who’s more “far-right”, Yehuda Glick or the Palestinian who tried to murder him?

A reporter working in the international press corps here understands quickly that what is important in the Israel-Palestinian story is Israel. If you follow mainstream coverage, you will find nearly no real analysis of Palestinian…ideologies, or profiles of armed Palestinian groups…Palestinians are not taken seriously as agents of their own fate – Former AP correspondent Matti Friedman

The Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont penned two articles today on the attempted murder of Rabbi Yehuda Glick, a campaigner for Jewish rights on the Temple Mount.

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Snapshot of the Guardian’s Israel page, Oct. 30

Glick, who’s recovering from multiple bullet wounds at a Jerusalem hospital, was shot outside the Menachem Begin Heritage Center by a Palestinian man from east Jerusalem named Mu’taz Hijazi, a former prisoner (for terror offenses) and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) member.

(PIJ  was formed by Palestinian extremists in Gaza during the 1970s and is committed to the destruction of the Jewish state through Jihad, and the creation of an Islamic state ‘from the river to the sea’.  The group was responsible for scores of deadly attacks on Israeli civilians – including large-scale suicide bombings.)

Hijazi was shot and killed by police today during an attempt to arrest him for the shooting.

Including the headlines, strap lines, photo captions and text, the term “far-right” was used seven times in reference to Glick in the two Guardian articles.  Though Beaumont alluded to the fact that Hijaz served time in an Israeli prison for “security” offenses, no similarly ideologically pejorative term was used to characterize him.  Nor was there any mention of his PIJ affiliation.

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The chosen blog? Guardian gives a shout out to “pressure group” called CiF Watch

Though the Guardian has implicitly alluded to our presence on one or two occasions, they seem to have an unwritten policy of never explicitly referring to us by name. Indeed, even the most benign references to ‘CiF Watch’ in the comment section of ‘Comment is Free’ (‘CiF’) are still routinely deleted by their moderators, and, in 2012, this writer had his commenting privileges below the line at ‘CiF’ permanently suspended for some still unknown violation of their ‘community standards’. 

So, we were a bit surprised – to put it mildly – when a column written by the Guardian’s readers’ editor Chris Elliott, in the print and online editions of the paper (The many pitfalls when covering Israel/Palestine issues, Oct. 27th) devoted some space to addressing one of our recent complaints concerning a truly reprehensible column in the Guardian by discredited anti-Zionist historian Shlomo Sand titled ‘I wish to resign from being a Jew.

Specifically, we objected to Sand’s use of the term ‘chosen people’ to suggest that Jews treat Palestinians poorly due to a belief in their own racial superiority, and noted that Elliott himself had previously acknowledged (in upholding a CiF Watch complaint in 2011 against an article by Deborah Orr) that such pejorative references to the “chosen people” – widely understood as a Jewish requirement to uphold high standards of moral behavior – are typically used by antisemites as code for ‘Jewish supremacism‘.

Here’s the passage from Sand:

By my everyday life and my basic culture I am an Israeli. I am not especially proud of this, just as I have no reason to take pride in being a man with brown eyes and of average height. I am often even ashamed of Israel, particularly when I witness evidence of its cruel military colonisation, with its weak and defenceless victims who are not part of the “chosen people”.

Elliott’s reply can be found in the highlighted section of his article below (Click Image to Enlarge):

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Guardian’s photo choice again illustrates their obsession with Israel

Even by the standards of the Guardian Left, George Monbiot represents an extreme example of those commentators who go beyond mere hostility to Israel and the United States, but, more broadly, seem to wake up in the morning convinced that reactionary jihadists are actually victims of the democratic (“imperialist”) West. 

Though his Oct. 21st op-ed in the Guardian is about the ‘duhumanising rhetoric’ used by political leaders to demonize and exploit vulnerable minority groups, he naturally avoids citing the most egregiously racist and violent Islamist extremist movements, instead citing – as examples of those who use dehumanising rhetoric to render people expendable – Israel, the UK and the United States.

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When Jews moving into non-Jewish neighborhoods elicits progressive scorn

photoImagine if Jerusalem authorities forbade Palestinians (those with permanent Israeli residency) from moving into Jewish neighborhoods in west Jerusalem, citing the need to protect the delicate demographic balance of the capital, and keep such neighborhoods entirely Jewish.

Is it even conceivable that journalists and commentators in the UK media would be critical of such Palestinians who decided to legally buy property and move into such Jewish neighborhoods?

Whilst the answer to this question should be obvious, it’s worth noting the furious reaction in 2010 when a few dozen racist rabbis issued a meaningless and unenforceable “religious ruling” forbidding Jews from selling land to Arabs – a ruling widely condemned as racist and illegal by Israeli leaders across the political spectrum.  One Guardian contributor even prophesized in the rabbinical ruling nothing less than a rising tide of religious fascism sweeping the country, and an ominous moral decline which “strikes at the soul of Judaism”.  

Yet, when Palestinians wish to keep predominately Arab neighborhoods ethnically pure, and free of any Jewish presence whatsoever, the coverage is much different.

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

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

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

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