Nicolas Anelka and Dieudonne: the quenelle is an antisemitic salute

Cross posted by Dave Rich from the blog of The CST

The quenelle salute given by West Brom striker Nicolas Anelka when he scored in their Premier League match on Saturday is an antisemitic gesture, and he should be punished accordingly by the FA.

In the Luis Suarez and John Terry cases the FA established the ‘zero tolerance’ principle, that a player’s intention does not excuse the use of racist language. The same principle must be applied in this case. Anelka says that he is not racist or antisemitic and that he did not intend his quenelle to have an antisemitic meaning, but this is beside the point:  just as the FA accepted that Luis Suarez is not a racist person while banning him for eight matches after he used racially abusive language towards Patrice Evra.

That the quenelle is antisemitic is beyond dispute. In France it has become part of a social media craze in which people find ever-more offensive places to insult Jews by doing a quenelle: this blogpost shows photographs of people performing quenelles at Auschwitz, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, at the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, outside synagogues and Jewish shops and at dozens of other Jewish sites. There is even a photograph of someone doing a quenelle outside the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse, where Mohammed Merah murdered three children and a teacher in March 2012:

 ob_43b6f7b494bb77257061d86e28388882_quenellemerah2

If the people in these photographs did a Nazi salute at any of these sites they would risk instant arrest and prosecution. The quenelle is a way of getting around the law, while still getting the same thrill of breaking the taboo against antisemitism.

The quenelle was invented by French comic Dieudonné Mbala Mbala. Anelka has excused his quenelle by saying that it was “just a special dedication to my comedian friend Dieudonné”; but this is no excuse, it just confirms the offence. Dieudonné has numerous convictions for antisemitism in France. One of these was for a sketch in which he gave a heroism award to French Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson. The ‘comedy’ was that the award was presented by a man in a concentration camp uniform, complete with a yellow star.

Dieudonné claims that the quenelle is anti-establishment and anti-Zionist, not antisemitic. This is true, but also misleading – because Dieudonné believes that the establishment is run by “Zionists”. He told Iran’s Press TV:

The Zionist lobby … have taken France as hostage and we are in the hands of ignorant people, who know how to structure themselves into a mafia-like organisation and… have now taken over a country.

This is not the anti-Zionism of people who think that the Palestinians get a raw deal from Israel: it is the anti-Zionism of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, of a conspiracy theory that believes “the Jews pull all the strings”, as French extremism expert Jean-Yves Camus put it. (There is more background about Dieudonné’s political journey here).

It is also a political worldview that has led Dieudonné into a friendship with leaders of the far right Front National (FN). In 2006, Dieudonné attended the FN’s annual festival, and in 2008 veteran FN leader Jean Marie Le Pen became godfather to one of Dieudonné’s children.

Here is Le Pen (centre) with the FN’s Bruno Gollnisch (left) and friends, doing a quenelle:

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The quenelle was unknown in Britain before this weekend, but it has been at the centre of a public storm in France due to the viral spread of people doing it at Jewish sites and posting the photos on social media. Government ministers are talking of banning Dieudonné’s public appearances because they believe that he incites hatred of Jews and poses a threat to public order. Dieudonné denies this, but when Nicolas Anelka did his quenelle during a match that was broadcast live on French TV, he inserted himself into a race row in his home country – on the side of the alleged racist.

This does not mean that Anelka intended to make an antisemitic statement, or even that he understood the meaning of what he did: but now that the quenelle has entered British football, the FA need to set a clear precedent by acting swiftly and unequivocally to punish those who do it.

Why Chas loves Israel

The following is an extract from Not In My Name: A Compendium of Modern Hypocrisy by Chas Newkey-Burden and Julie Burchill.  

(This chapter was written by Chas Newkey-Burden, who blogs at OyVaGoy)

Chas Newkey-Burden

Chas Newkey-Burden

‘When my father was a little boy in Poland, the streets of Europe were covered with graffiti, “Jews, go back to Palestine,” or sometimes worse: “Dirty Yids, piss off to Palestine.” When my father revisited Europe fifty years later, the walls were covered with new graffiti, “Jews, get out of Palestine.”’  - Israeli author Amos Oz

Everyone knows the proverb of the three wise monkeys who see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. As shown throughout this book, the modern hypocrite can be very skilled indeed at seeing and hearing no evil. When women are stoned to death in Arab states, when gay men are brutalised in Caribbean countries, the hypocrites’ ability to cover their ears and look the other way is remarkable.

However, the triumvirate cannot be completed for when it comes to the state of Israel the modern hypocrite just cannot stop speaking evil. They will fail to condemn – and sometimes actually support – terrorists who blow up school buses and pizza parlours. They will march hand in hand with people who – quite literally – fundamentally disagree with every basic political principle they claim to hold dear. They will openly question whether Israel even has the right to exist.

And all along the way, they will show themselves to be devastating hypocrites.

The anti-Israel brigade would have us believe that the motivation for this vitriolic hatred of Israel is a genuine, compassionate concern for the fate of the Palestinian people. But do they really care about the Palestinians, or is their compassion somewhat selective, to put it politely? In reality, are they only interested in Palestinian suffering for as long as it gives them an opportunity to bash Israel?

This hypocrisy is not entirely modern. When the West Bank and the Gaza strip were occupied by Jordan and Egypt, those occupations of ‘Palestinian land’ drew not a whimper of protest from the people who spat blood at the ‘occupation’ of those territories by Israel. When Jordan killed thousands of Palestinians and drove just as many of them from their refugee camps into Lebanon, Israel-bashers saw nothing wrong with that at all. Neither did they take issue with Kuwait when it deported Palestinians in the aftermath of the 1991 Iraq war. Why were they silent in all these cases? Because none of them gave them a chance to bash Israel, of course.

Well established as this hypocrisy is, in the 21st century it has well and truly taken root as ‘supporting’ the Palestinians had become achingly fashionable. So when Hamas-sparked violence led to Palestinian students at a West Bank university being brutally beaten and shot by their own people, the Westerners who claim to support the Palestinians raised not a single word of protest or concern. Likewise, when Palestinian women are stabbed to death in “honour killings” across the West Bank and Gaza Strip, no anti-Israel Westerners lose a single moment’s sleep on their behalf.

Likewise, when Palestinian children are hospitalised after being caught in the crossfire of fighting between rival Palestinian factions, there is not a word of condemnation from the West. When Palestinian children are deliberately forced into the line of fire by their own people, where is the concern from those in the West who claim to be their biggest supporters? When terrorists are found to be hiding hand grenades in the cradles where Palestinian babies sleep, where is the outrage?

If Israel is accused of torturing Palestinian terror suspects, the hypocrite is indignantly up-in-arms in protest without establishing a single fact but when Palestinians suspected of collaborating are proven to be brutally tortured – sometimes to death – by members of Islamic Jihad, again the silence is deafening.

Similarly, if these people are truly concerned about the Palestinians, then where are their words of praise for Israel when it flings open its hospital doors to them? Just one example: in May 2007 an eight-day-old baby from the Gaza Strip that was suffering with congenital heart complications was treated in a hospital in Israel. An Israeli Magen David Adom ambulance drove into the Gaza Strip, dodging Qassam rockets that were headed for Israel and collected the child for treatment at the Sheba Medical Center in Hashomer, near Tel Aviv. Such cases are far from rare. But I’ve never heard a word of praise for these treatments from any of those in the West who claim to be concerned over the fate of the Palestinians.

It’s the same with the refugee question. The heartbreak that the hypocrite feels for Palestinian refugees is only expressed in the context of slamming Israel. When it’s pointed out to them that the Arab world has done precious little to help the refugees, their interest dwindles. And what of the hundreds and thousands of Jewish refugees who were deported from Arab states? They’ve never received any compensation – as Palestinian refugees have from Israel – and no Westerner has ever cried them self to sleep on their behalf.

Any action taken by Israel to deal with Palestinian terrorists is met with abuse and distortion. The case of Jenin was typical. Following scores of suicide bombings organised from within the Jenin refugee camp, Israel entered the camp in search of the terrorists. As the fighting ended the media leapt into action to demonise Israel’s action. The Guardian described Israel’s actions as “every bit as repellent” as the 9/11 attacks. The Evening Standard cried: “We are talking here of massacre, and a cover-up, of genocide.” The Independent spoke of a “war crime” and The Times claimed there were “mass graves”. The head of the United Nations Refugee Agency was quickly out of the traps to describe the affair as a “human rights catastrophe that has few parallels in recent history”. The EU was nor far behind in its condemnation.

Let’s examine the facts of this massacre, this genocide. In total 75 people died at Jenin. 23 of these were Israeli soldiers and 52 were Palestinians, almost all of them combatants. By even the most hysterical, loaded standards of language this does not constitute genocide, nor anything of the sort. Indeed, the Palestinian death toll would have been much higher – and the Israeli death toll non-existent – had Israel simply bombed the camp from the air. Instead, to avoid civilian casualties, Israel put their own soldiers at risk, sending them in on foot to search through booby-trapped homes.

When Prime Minister Ariel Sharon next visited Israeli troops, one of them asked him: “Why didn’t we bomb the terrorists from the air? That operation cost the lives of more than 20 of our comrades!” Sharon replied: “That is the painful and inevitable price that those who refuse to abandon their humanity have to pay.” In return for paying the painful price of eschewing air attacks, Sharon and the brave Israeli soldiers who entered a terrorist camp on foot were accused of genocide and massacre and spoken of in the same terms as the 9/11 terrorists.

However, the hypocrisy doesn’t end there. In 2007, another Palestinian camp, which had become swamped with suicide bombers, was attacked. This time, the gloves came off. The camp was surrounded by tanks and artillery that fired indiscriminately at the inhabitants. Snipers backed up this fire. The camp’s water and electricity supplies were cut off. Thousands of innocent Palestinians were forced to flee but not before at least 18 had been killed and dozens injured. The camp itself was reduced to rubble. Ultimately, the fighting killed more than 300 people and forced nearly 40,000 Palestinian refugees to flee.

This time, there was next to no coverage in the British media. There was no talk of genocide or massacre. Rather than condemning the attack, the EU and UN were quick to express their support to the army. Even the Arab League came out in support. So what had changed? You guessed it, this time the army dealing with the camp was not the Israeli army but the Lebanese army. How terrifyingly revealing this is of the hypocrisy of those who claim to care about fate of the Palestinians.

During the fighting, tanks and artillery had also fired at residential areas of Lebanon and civilians were inevitably caught in the crossfire. Just months earlier, the anti-war brigade has been marching through the streets of London to express their concern for the people of Lebanon who were caught in the crossfire of Israel’s fighting with Hezbollah. Strangely, the marchers couldn’t get off their self-righteous backsides when Lebanese civilians were being shot at by Islamic groups: this time, the people of Lebanon could go to hell as far as they were concerned.

How different it had been in the summer of 2006. “We are all Hezbollah now,” the modern hypocrites had chanted as they marched in fury against Israel’s latest battle for survival, as the rockets of that terror group were raining down on its cities and kibbutzim. If “Not In My Name” was an embarrassing slogan, then “We are all Hezbollah now” was little short of insane. How could these marchers, who say they oppose misogyny, tyranny, homophobia and genocide, march in support of an organisation which fanatically and brutally promotes all those things? Because they’re hypocrites, of course, and because their frenzied hatred of Israel has utterly stupefied them. It was embarrassing for them, therefore, when Hezbollah’s leader Hasan Nasrallah told them: “We don’t want anything from you. We just want to eliminate you.” As Martin Amis neatly put it, these demonstrators were “up the arse of the people that want them dead”.

But what were they doing up there? Many no doubt believed that during the war they were backing the little guy of Hezbollah against the big guy of Israel. The truth was somewhat different, though. Hezbollah was no little guy, it was backed by millions of pounds of Iranian and Syrian money. Neither were the two sides of the conflict as clear-cut as they believed. The Israeli Arabs of Haifa spent much of the summer sitting in bunkers to avoid being killed by Hezbollah rockets. Many of these Arabs cheered on the Israeli army throughout the campaign.

Similarly, Ethiopian Jews who Israel had previously bravely airlifted from oppression and starvation were particularly badly hit in Tiberias. How incredible that back in England, many of the groups whose members wear white Make Poverty History wristbands and campaign on Third World debt were willing to cheer as Ethiopians were bombed by Hezbollah.

So no, Israel was not necessarily the Goliath of the conflict. How could a nation the size of Wales, surrounded by millions who want it wiped off the map be a Goliath? However, the courage shown by its soldiers was immense. Lt Colonel Roe Klein was marching at the head of a unit of troops when a Hezbollah man threw a hand grenade at them. Lt Klein jumped on top of the grenade to save his troops, losing his life in the process. Meanwhile, Hezbollah were employing the standard cowardly tactic of hiding among women and children, with wheelchair-bound people a particular favourite.

Throughout Israel, the population showed itself to be as brave and humanitarian as ever. Newspapers were full of classified advertisements in which families offered to house those from the north of the country who were under Hezbollah fire. Ultra-Orthodox Jews took in secular Jews, people living in small flats flung open their doors to large families with pets. The blitz spirit also saw youngsters from the big cities like Jerusalem and Tel Aviv organise treats for Arab children from Galilee. The government arranged for celebrities to visit the bunker-ridden population of the north and even flew in a gay porn star to cheer up gay Israeli troops. As Hezbollah’s rockets rained down over northern Israel, weddings in the region had to be cancelled. So cinema producer Eliman Bardugo organised for those affected to have the chance to be married en masse on the beach in Tel Aviv. Some 50 couples took him up on the offer.

Meanwhile, in London, left-wing people took to the streets to cheer on Hezbollah as it butchered Israeli people. As, for instance, a Hezbollah rocket hit a kibbutz and killed 12 people including an ultra-orthodox Jew who was sitting next to a hippy with pierced ears. The more of these incidents happened, the further the marchers climbed up the arses of the people who wanted them dead.

It would have been familiar territory for many of them. When I went to see the play My Name Is Rachel Corrie in London’s West End, I had sat in an audience littered with white English men and women wearing keffiyeh scarves and some wearing Hamas badges. I see these people – and the marching Hezbollah-wannabes – as terror groupies, a sort of left-wing equivalent of the little boys who play army in playgrounds across England. But these are adults so they really should know better.

I’m not sure the terror groupies look the other way on the topic of Palestinian terrorism. They seem – sorry to say – almost turned-on by it. You surely can’t, after all, overlook something as big as the blowing up of buses or pizza parlours. There is no ‘bigger picture’ regarding people who do that. And why would you appropriate the uniform of the man who backed all that terrorism unless you actively had, well, a bit of a thing for him? For much of the audience, the play about Rachel Corrie must have been a gleefully pornographic experience. They say a picture is worth a thousand words but sometimes a picture can be worth far more than that. There are more than a thousand words in the play, about Corrie, the young US activist who accidentally died during an anti-Israel protest in Gaza in 2003. But none of them shed light on the now-canonised Corrie as much as a photograph taken of her by the Associated Press a month before her death. She was snapped burning an American flag and whipping up the crowd at a pro-Hamas rally.

Naturally, there is no mention of this photograph in the play. Neither is it mentioned that thanks in part to demonstrations of the International Solidarity Movement with who Corrie travelled to the Middle East, the Israel Defence Force was prevented from blocking the passage of weapons which were later shown to have been used to kill Israeli children in southern Israel.

Instead, the play is full of naïve anti-Israel propaganda from the mouth of Corrie. “The vast majority of Palestinians right now, as far as I can tell, are engaging in Gandhian non-violent resistance,” she wrote in 2003 as Palestinian suicide bombs were slaughtering Israelis. Lest we forget who the real star of the story is, towards the end of the play Corrie writes: “When I come back from Palestine I probably will have nightmares and constantly feel guilty for not being here, but I can channel that into more work.” We’re back in self-indulgence territory, aren’t we? Not in my name. My name is Rachel Corrie. We’re all Hezbollah now. Thousands are dying but it’s all about me. The hypocrisy of the audience was depressing. I wonder if any of were even aware that Hamas had danced over Corrie’s grave when she died? To the Palestinians, a dead young American girl was a wonderful publicity coup. Had any of the audience travelled to the Middle East in a Corriesque trip of self-indulgence, the Palestinians would have crossed their fingers in the hope they too died.

As I say, the modern hypocrite is delighted to overlook misogyny, homophobia and brutal clampdowns on all manner of person freedoms in Arab states and the other side of this coin of hypocritical currency is the way they simultaneously overlook the extraordinarily positive record Israel has on such issues. Take the case of Golda Meir, Israel’s first female Prime Minister who took the top job in 1969, just 21 years into the country’s existence and a full decade before England had our first female Prime Minister. In some Arab states, women are not allowed to go to school. In Israel they can become the most powerful person in the country.

Meir herself was well aware of this spectacular contrast. In 1948, when she was a negotiator with the Jewish Agency, she set off on a secret mission to meet King Abdullah of Transjordan. The meeting was secret so she travelled with the Agency’s Arab expert Ezra Danin and posed as his wife. She recalled: “I would travel in the traditional dark and voluminous robes of an Arab woman. I spoke no Arabic at all but as a Moslem wife accompanying her husband it was most unlikely that I would be called upon to say anything to anyone.” How hypocritical it is of those left-wingers in the West that they can hate a country with tales such as these throughout its history.

It’s just the same with gay issues. Left-wingers who say they passionately believe in gay rights manage to put that passion aside when it comes to their view of the only country in the Middle East with a positive record on the issue. A wonderfully positive record, in fact. In 2006, within days of the country’s fighting with Hezbollah ending, I flew to Israel to research a feature on gay life in the Holy Land. Before leaving, I’d been warned by anti-Israel Westerners to expect to find a very homophobic country. Had any of them bothered to visit Israel, they’d have discovered it’s nothing of the sort. Workplace discrimination against gay people is outlawed; the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) has openly gay members; in schools, teenagers learn about the difficulties of being gay and the importance of treating all sexualities equally. The Israel Defence Force has dozens of openly gay officers who, like all gay soldiers in its ranks, are treated equally by order of the government.

The Supreme Court has ruled that gay couples are eligible for spousal and widower benefits. The country has gay football teams. Most mainstream television dramas in Israel regularly feature gay storylines. When transsexual Dana International won the 1998 Eurovision Song Contest as Israel’s representative, 80 per cent of polled Israelis called her “an appropriate representative of Israel”.

These facts are there for all to see but it is only on visiting Israel that you discover how happily the different sections of the society coexist. I interviewed a gay Israeli man on Tel Aviv’s “Hilton beach” – it is opposite the Hilton hotel – which is also known as the “gay beach”, where men openly check each other out and pick each other up. It is neighboured by the city’s religious beach which has separate bathing days for men and women. And all this is just yards from Tel Aviv’s Independence Park, which is the main gay cruising area in Tel Aviv. The cruising park in Jerusalem has the same name.

Elsewhere in Tel Aviv is the House of Freedom. Opened in the late 1990s, this is a shelter for gay, lesbian and transgender youngsters between the ages of 12 and 18 who have been thrown out of home after coming out to their parents. At the House they are counselled by social workers who then visit the parents and attempt to bring about reconciliation. Those attempts are often successful, each year hundreds of gay youngsters return to a better home thanks to this remarkable institution.

And everywhere you go in the city, gay men walk hand in hand more openly that they even would in London’s Soho. It is staggering that Western left-wingers who claim to believe in gay rights can be so furiously opposed to tolerant Israel. The tolerance is not confined to Tel Aviv, either. When some in Jerusalem opposed the staging of the gay pride parade in the capital in 2007, the media presented a city on the brink of civil war. I happened to be in Jerusalem that week – though I didn’t attend the parade – and I witnessed no unrest. Perhaps the strongest opposition I witnessed to the parade came from a taxi driver. I asked him what he thought about the parade and he sighed deeply before saying: “Oh it was terrible for the traffic.” He was right, too!

By hating Israel, the pro-gay-rights left are not just proving to be hypocritical, they are also endangering the one hope that gay Palestinians have. The leading gay rights organisation in Israel organises Arabic gay evenings where gay Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza strip are invited to come and party with Israelis – and many take up the invitation. “We are their only hope,” says one of the organisers. “If they came out where they live, they would be killed but they can come and party with us in Israel.” As has been documented by human rights groups, gay Palestinians are routinely tortured and murdered by their own people. They often flee to the safety of Israel.

The attraction that Israel should hold for believers in the rainbow alliance doesn’t end with its record on women and gay men. I remember on a road trip from the Dead Sea to Tel Aviv marvelling at a quartet of an ultra-orthodox Jew, an Arab, a uniformed Israeli soldier and a mini-skirt wearing girl in her late teens all engaging in friendly chit-chat as they waited for some traffic lights to change. Such sights are far from uncommon as Israel is home to one of the planet’s most diverse people: dreadlocked Ethiopians, and their fellow Africans from Yemen, Egypt and Morocco exist alongside people from Iraq, Iran, Russian and Latin America. Then there are Asians from the Far East and Israeli Arabs, the latter group enjoying more personal freedoms in Israel than they would in any Arab state.

My experiences in Israel might seem surprising to the reader who hasn’t been there – particularly given the predominance of reports casting the country as a villainous, apartheid state. There exists a peculiar unwillingness to accept good news from Israel, which contrasts with the way that paradigm-shifting reports on ‘The hidden modernity of Tehran’ are welcomed with open arms. When I attempted to include the scene that I had witnessed at the traffic lights in a magazine feature I wrote about the research trip to Israel, I had to go through an exasperating discussion with the commissioning editor. He didn’t seem to know that Israeli Arabs exist and insisted that the scene I described couldn’t have occurred. He’d never been to Israel but was quite sure that he was right and I was wrong.

He was in good company in his blissful ignorance. Within hours of my return from the trip, I received a call from a journalist acquaintance who asked me with genuine shock: “What’s all this about you going to Israel?” He said that a mutual journalist acquaintance of ours was “absolutely disgusted” with me for going there and that he hoped I was “going to put the boot in” when I wrote my articles. These were not close acquaintances, I hadn’t even spoken to one of them for nearly nine years and it must have taken them some digging around to find my new telephone number. They obviously thought it was worth the trouble to have a dig at a writer who was friendly to Israel. Apparently the “absolutely disgusted” man – a weekly columnist on a high-profile magazine – has since tried to get an article published that claims that Tony Blair murdered Yasser Arafat.

The editor of another magazine once told me I was not allowed to write that Yasser Arafat turned down Ehud Barak’s offer at Camp David in 2000. I asked why and he replied “because of a need for balance.” I pointed out that nobody, including Arafat, has ever disputed that he rejected Barak’s offer and the editor replied: “Well, I don’t know about that but you still can’t write it.” The article in question was an “opinion” piece and taking sides was the order of the day each week in that column. Not if the article was about Israel, it seemed. Get this for hypocrisy, though: the same magazine had happily published articles accusing Israel of “war crimes” and carried advertising accusing Israel of apartheid policies. Clearly, the need for balance is relative.

Not that there was much balance in the motion the National Union Of Journalists passed in 2007 to boycott Israel. As a writer I felt shame and despair at this motion. Those emotions of shame and despair were not joined by shock, though, because much of the British media has long been absorbed by a blind hatred of Israel.

Broadsheet newspapers print editorials that are so biased and distorted that Osama Bin Laden would probably blush at them and say: “Steady on! We can’t print that!” The BBC refuses to describe suicide bombers who blow up buses full of Israeli schoolchildren as “terrorists” even though it has used that term to describe bombers in London, Iraq and Indonesia. One of its correspondents told a Hamas rally that he and his colleagues were “waging the campaign shoulder-to-shoulder with the Palestinian people”.

Why did the NUJ choose Israel for a boycott? The country has an entirely free press. If the NUJ wanted to boycott a country, then Russia, China, Zimbabwe and Pakistan would have been more sensible options, given their record on press freedom. The timing, too, was ridiculous. Shortly before the motion was passed, BBC journalist Alan Johnston was kidnapped by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. So why did the NUJ respond to this by boycotting Israel?

The coverage of the Alan Johnston case was riddled with hypocrisy. Every day, the BBC devoted acres of space to the story. Yet the BBC largely ignored the plight of young Israeli soldiers who were kidnapped by Palestinians. Indeed, the BBC refuses to even use the term “kidnap” in relation to the snatching of teenager Corporal Gilad Shalit, preferring to say he was “captured”. I was in Israel during Johnston’s captivity and had a conversation about his case with an Arab from the West Bank. He said: “I’m surprised that they took someone from the BBC. Everyone knows the BBC is totally biased for the Palestinians. I bet they’re not so for the Palestinians now, though!” When I told him that the BBC was just as pro-Palestinian as ever, he raised his eyes to the heavens. “That’s strange,” he said.

True. But then Auntie Beeb has long shown its true colours on the conflict. A 2007 a leaked internal BBC memo written by Bowen blamed Israel for all the woes of the Gaza Strip, despite the fact that Israel had withdrawn two years earlier from Gaza!

Hmm, what we need is a man who can effortlessly show these BBC buffoons just how hypocritical they are. Step forward and take a bow Benjamin Netanyahu, former Prime Minister of Israel and all-round hero of both myself and my co-author. He was interviewed on the BBC during the 2006 Hezbollah conflict and made mince meat of his quizzer:

Interviewer: “How come so many more Lebanese have been killed in this conflict than Israelis?”

Netanyahu: “Are you sure that you want to start asking in that direction?”

Interviewer: “Why not?”

Netanyahu: “Because in World War II more Germans were killed than British and Americans combined, but there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the war was caused by Germany’s aggression. And in response to the German blitz on London, the British wiped out the entire city of Dresden, burning to death more German civilians than the number of people killed in Hiroshima.

“Moreover, I could remind you that in 1944, when the RAF tried to bomb the Gestapo Headquarters in Copenhagen, some of the bombs missed their target and fell on a Danish children’s hospital, killing 83 little children.

“Perhaps you have another question?”

Perhaps indeed! Perhaps the academics who chose to boycott Israel at the same time as the NUJ might have asked themselves some questions too. In 2007, they voted to boycott Israeli academic institutions in a protest supposedly on behalf of the Palestinians. Meanwhile, back in the real world a young Jordanian-Palestinian woman, was graduating with a Master’s degree from Ben Gurion University in Israel. Dana Rassas was trained by the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies at Kibbutz Ketura in the Negev, and then went on to study the Israeli water desalination program at the Albert Katz International School for Desert Studies at Ben Gurion University. As a result of her studies in Israel, Rassas is now helping to solve Jordan’s water problems. If they boycotters had their way, she’d never have had any of these chances.

To take a wider view, why is it that so many people who cling to the notion of human rights when considering the plight of the Palestinians couldn’t give a hoot about other groups around the world like the Tibetans, the Kurds, the Armenians and the Chechens? Is it because these groups didn’t have the fortune of being in dispute with Jewish people? Either way, it is indisputable that the incessant focus of the human rights movement on the actions of Israel has allowed genuinely horrific human rights abuses in other parts of the world to go unnoticed.

As we keep seeing, whatever it does Israel cannot win and so we end up returning to the graffiti seen by Amos Oz’s father in Poland. First: go back to Palestine, then: get out of Palestine. antisemitism has always been dominated by contradictions. The Jews have been attacked for being both communist schemers and capitalists plotting to take over the world. They can’t stop sticking their noses into others’ business yet they also must be attacked for keeping themselves to themselves. They were taunted for being too weak when the Germans tried to eliminate them from the face of the earth and are now slammed for being too strong when the Arabs try the same trick.

Ironically, for all the attention and criticism that Western hypocrites throw at Israel, the biggest questioners of the state and its actions are Israelis themselves. Israel’s Supreme Court is a thorn in the side of the government and army and frequently overrules both. It regularly examines petitions brought by Palestinian people and rules in their favour. Many of its judgements have restricted the options open to the army and in passing them, the Court has acknowledged that its rulings will cause Israeli loss of life but insisted that such steps are needed in the interests of humanity.

When terrorist leaders who have arranged the slaughter of Israeli people are killed by the Israel Defence Force, there is no cheering in the street as is seen among Palestinians when another school bus is blown up by a suicide bomber, a favourite tactic of there’s as seen in November 2000. Instead, commissions of inquiry are set up to examine whether the elimination of these men who wanted to blow murder their children was ethical and correct. On and on it goes, this relentless self-examination by a country that has faced abuse, distortion and calls for its destruction since the very minute it was established in 1948.

But then that’s the thing about Israel: strong, plucky, moral, deeply self-critical yet determinedly happy and upbeat, it is everything the modern hypocrite is not. I love it.

Follow Chas on Twitter

Preview of official survey on European antisemitism

Cross posted by Mark Gardner at The CST

Next week, on the eve of the 75th anniversary of Krystallnacht, the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) of the European Union will publish the results of its keenly awaited survey, “Jewish people’s experiences and perceptions of hate crime, discrimination and antisemitism”. It is the largest survey of its type, covering countries in which 90% of European Jews live - Britain, France, Hungary, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Latvia.

The survey does not ask what level of antisemitism ought to somehow be expected, or tolerated. Its questions include asking  Jews what they perceive to be antisemitic, what they experience, and how it impacts upon their sense of belonging and future. It does not seek to tell Jews what is or is not antisemitic. It does not define a particular level of antisemitism as “good” or “bad” or “normal”. Instead, all of that is quite correctly decided by the respondents. 

So, this is an exceptional opportunity for Jewish communities, European politicians, and researchers, to understand both Jewish experiences of antisemitism and Jewish perceptions of antisemitism. The hope and intention is that this gives an urgently needed kick-start for improved protection of European Jews. 

The FRA collects data on human rights and racism for EU policy makers. CST has worked very closely with both it and European Jewish partners for many years. This survey arose from our shared concern that Europe’s politicians and lawmakers needed to understand, and act upon, a situation that has worsened considerably since the year 2000.

Crucially, our concern was shared by the European Commission, which actually ordered the survey be undertaken. They needed it, because most countries (Britain being an exception) held insufficient data on antisemitism. Furthermore, individual countries could be better held to account for their efforts.

Opposing antisemitism in post-Holocaust Europe should be the most basic of human rights issues. Disgracefully, it is not. Jewish concerns and motives are misrepresented, treated with suspicion, or simply lied about, by all too many supposed anti-racists: including sections of the media, trade unions and churches, where urges to attack Israel and so-called Zionists overwhelm other considerations. That some Jews embrace this corrupt enterprise merely deepens their comrades’ contempt for mainstream Jewish (therefore so-called Zionist) concerns. 

Regardless of the FRA survey, the reality and impact of European antisemitism has been plainly visible in France, with Jews having been murdered in cold blood, and thousands of French Jews having moved overseas. Hungary is also very worrying, but the problem there is far right nationalists who blame Jews for socioeconomic difficulties: what you might call “the old antisemitism”.

Then, there is Malmo in Sweden, widely regarded as the worst example of a local community living in fear, due to high levels of antisemitism from some Muslim residents and a lack of concern, or worse, from local authorities. For the pessimists, Malmo is what the future holds for European Jewry. (See here, for a short impactful article on wearing a kippah in Malmo.) 

In Britain, we are relatively fortunate. CST and the Police have had excellent relations since the 1990s; and over the last decade our politicians have taken antisemitism increasingly seriously, with the Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism helping to lead the way.

The survey itself was rigorously conducted by London’s highly respected Institute for Jewish Policy Research and Ipsos MORI. It posed dozens of questions and each was to be answered by every country. The very few statistics that have already been revealed (mainly by the EU delegation to the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism) contain much food for thought. They include:

  • 7% of the 5,847 respondents experienced some form of antisemitic physical attack or threats in the last five years.
  • 26% of respondents experienced antisemitic harassment at least once in the year before the survey. This rose to 34% over the past five years.
  • 76% of victims of antisemitic harassment, 64% of victims of physical attack or threats, and 52% of victims of vandalism did not report the incident to the police, nor to any other organisation. 
  • 22% of respondents sometimes avoid “Jewish events or sites” because of safety concerns.

These figures are overall European totals. The specific UK totals are likely to be generally less alarming, but it remains to be seen if they will be substantially different.

The most striking figures released thus far concern Belgium, France and Hungary, where between 40% and 50% of respondents said that they had considered emigrating because they do not feel safe. This statistic goes to the heart of how the present and past experience of antisemitism impacts upon Jewish feelings of safety and future, and upon Europe itself. 

The few figures released thus far more than justify why the survey was commissioned. The perpetrators and triggers of antisemitism may differ across the continent, but there is an urgent need for local politicians to develop effective counter-strategies against it.

  •  The Jewish Chronicle carries a slightly shorter version of the above article. 

Louise Mensch: What The Independent tells us about the Guardian’s crimes

The following was written by Louise Mensch and originally posted at her blog, Unfashionista.  It’s republished here with permission.

Julian Smith MP has filed a complaint to the Metropolitan Police about the Guardian and its potential breaches of the Terrorism Act 2000. Under the Act, it is a terrorist offence to communicate names, or any identifying material, of GCHQ personnel – not just to publish those names, but to communicate them.

The Guardian shipped GCHQ files to American bloggers and the New York Times. In so doing they did a lot more than journalism, ie receiving files and reporting on them. They became traffickers and distributors.

They have refused to answer my questions on Twitter as to whether their trafficked files included names of GCHQ staff, issuing a classic non-denial denial to the Daily Mail that reads like an admission: “We did not include the names of any British spies.” Spies? It’s a terrorist offence to communicate identifying info on any GCHQ personnel.

Well, the Guardian gets all the love and money from this betrayal of our security forces, but there’s another British paper that got to see the Snowden files. The Independent, in August, ran a story about a secret British base in the Middle East.

I believe this story was abominably irresponsible and a betrayal of national security. The excuse was the paper didn’t provide an address and a map. So what? They revealed the existence of the base and put all its operations and operatives in jeopardy.

However, and it is a big however, the Independent here was “committing journalism” as the Guardian likes to put it when trying to avoid the police. They received the files and they reported on them. Irresponsibly and morally wrongly, but that’s all they did,

They didn’t copy the files. They didn’t traffic the files. They didn’t hand the files to foreigner papers and bloggers. They just reported on them.

Once the Telegraph and the Daily Mail – to their eternal credit – started to challenge the Guardian’s muling and commercial trading on our agents’ safety, the Independent published this little-noted editorial. But for the purposes of the police investigation, it is a crucial one, because it tells us just exactly what Guardian editors copied and gave to foreigners in order to get their dying paper more money from online clicks.

In August, we too were given information from the Snowden files. It pertained to the operation of the security services, was highly detailed, and had the capacity to compromise Britain’s security.

I think that’s pretty damned clear.

Yes, it is ludicrous that the Independent thinks publishing a front-page story revealing a secret British Middle Eastern base is not “sensitive” or “damaging”. But they are informing their readers – roughly the same base as the Guardian, the liberal left – just how awful the GCHQ Snowden files are.

Glenn Greenwald, who has now left the Guardian for a French-funded company with his fellow traitor Laura Poitras, was kind enough to tell the world on Twitter that Alan Rusbridger and Janine Gibson were concerned not to expose any NSA spying, but merely to endanger British operations. He told us what the documents they copied and muled to a blog and the NYT were on September 10th

@peterkofod As for NYT, I had no role at all in that – those were 1 set of docs only about UK that G had. They made that choice without me.

Julian Smith MP’s letter does more than ask the police to investigate if GCHQ personnel were identified in these “just about Britain” documents the Guardian trafficked to foreigners. He also asks the police to compel Alan Rusbridger and Janine Gibson to help in decryption efforts. After all, they have the documents, and they are happy to hand them to bloggers. And from the Independent, we know that the documents could not be more dangerous to the security of this nation. If a British commercial media company is sitting on the decryption key, they have to hand it over to our intelligence forces. Instead of helping the police and GCHQ see what damage has been done, which agents’ names are out there, and assisting them in saving lives, Rusbridger has admitted online that he has actively prevented this vital information being accessed:

 Are you taking any precautions to prevent US/UK government tampering/stealing with the documents?

Alan Rusbridger: Yes. And many of them are now with the NYT

Julian Smith MP has taken direct action by referring all of this to anti-terrorist police. But of course, it is a question for the Government too. The Home Office Committee is now investigating the Guardian. I have no doubt they will rightly ask ministers if they asked the Guardian for access to these terrible documents and if denied, whether and when they sought an injunction or subpoena to compel this commercial company to give the security forces access.

Once again, thanks to the Independent’s honesty in its editorial, we know the stakes for our intelligence services could not be higher.

It pertained to the operation of the security services, was highly detailed, and had the capacity to compromise Britain’s security.

I believe that anti-terror police are already actively on to breaches of the Terrorism Act 2000. But the Government, for whom defence of the realm is its first duty, must also play its part and not be cowed by the Guardian-BBC axis. We must never let fear of the press stop us from doing the right thing. The legal tools are there to compel the Guardian to share access to these files not just with commercial papers and bloggers but with the forces that defend us. In the same Q&A Rusbridger also said this:

Would The Guardian have been willing to hand  copy to authorities if there hadn’t been threat of prior restraint? 

Answer:

Alan Rusbridger: We had not yet decided what eventually to do with the original material at the point the Government asked us to return it or destroy it.

Theresa May and the Home Office should help Mr. Rusbridger to make up his mind. ‘Destroying’ it is not an option now the Guardian has distributed and trafficked it. Instead, Rusbridger and Gibson, who have access to it, must share that access with our security forces. As the Indie has told us clearly, national security is at stake.

The “Jewish community” comes under attack at Amnesty International event

Cross posted by London-based blogger Richard Millett

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The UN’s Hamed Qawasmeh (right) next to the chairperson at Amnesty in London on Monday.

It didn’t take too long for yet another anti-Israel event at Amnesty International to spill over into criticism of Jews. It was Monday night and Hamed Qawasmeh had finished speaking on the subject of Human Rights in Hebron and Area C of the West Bank.  

Qawasmeh is a long time employee of the United Nations and his current remit is to “document human rights violations in the southern West Bank” (apparently human rights violations don’t extend as far as the recent cold-blooded murders of two Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, one in Hebron itself. Neither murder was mentioned during the event).

Qawasmeh described how Israel uses its control of Area C to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians. It does this, he said, by refusing to grant building permits, by demolishing Palestinian homes, by evictions and by building military zones and nature reserves so as to confiscate more land. Then there are the roadblocks, checkpoints and “separation wall”.

He claimed the Israeli government refuses to allow Israeli electricity companies to build electricity pylons for Palestinian homes near Jewish settlements.

Quite magnanimously, Qawasmeh did say that he had no problem with Israel wanting to protect its own people by building the wall, but that the wall should stick to the “1967 border” and not snake into the West Bank.

During the Q&A I stated that “settlements” are not illegal and that the so-called “1967 border” was not a border but merely an armistice line. I also said that when visiting Hebron twice I had seen many palatial Palestinian-owned houses en route.

I had intended to go on to ask how there could be any peace while Palestinian Authority television shows Palestinian children saying they want to become “martyrs” and with the Hamas calling for the murder of Jews via their Charter.  But by then the audience was getting restless and vocal and the chairperson was telling me I had taken up enough time. I tried to persist with my question but it got lost in a noise of insults. Meanwhile, a woman from the audience approached me and held my arm while asking me to leave the room with her.

I slumped back into my chair and stayed silent as the discussion moved onto how Israeli settlers throw stones at Palestinian children on their way to school and how Israel rounds up large numbers of Palestinian “kids” and tortures them under interrogation.

I felt I had to challenge such allegations, upon which Abe Hayeem rose to his feet (you can read all about Hayeem here). Hayeem pointed at me and said:

“He must be removed. He disrupts every meeting. He signifies the sort of people that are in Hebron. And I suggest that your (Qawasmeh’s) presentation should be made to the Jewish community here. The total injustice and criminality of what has happened here doesn’t penetrate him…”

This seemed to be a totally unprovoked attack on “the Jewish community”. But instead of being criticised for such an outburst Qawasmeh assured Hayeem that he gives his presentation to Israelis and also to “Jews who come from the States”.

On leaving the room I was confronted by a young woman who told me that her grandmother, who was a Holocaust survivor, would be ashamed of my behaviour. Someone else told me that she had no problem with Hamas. I was also twice told that my manner was too aggressive and that I was “not helping my own cause”.

Overlooking these shenanigans was Amnesty’s campaigns manager Kristyan Benedict. Benedict once tweeted “Louise Ellman, Robert Halfon and Luciana Berger walk into a bar…each orders a round of B52s … #Gaza”. The three MPs happen to be Jewish. He also once threatened to beat me up after another Amnesty event, again after I had questioned what I had heard.

According to the Jewish Chronicle Benedict was forced to apologise for his tweet and Amnesty said that he would “focus his energy on managing AIUK’s crisis work, particularly the human rights crisis in Syria”. But on Tuesday night he wasn’t focusing on Syria. He was at this disgusting anti-Israel event, albeit not chairing it for once.

Old habits obviously die hard.

This video clip might just upturn the way people think about the conflict

Cross posted at This Ongoing War, a blog edited by Arnold and Frimet Roth

We hope the imagery below has gone viral by the time you see it here.

The caption on the LiveLeaks site where we first saw it says very little about who is behind it or their goals. But that’s less significant than might appear to be the case at first. Though they participants are speaking Arabic, you don’t really need to get into the meaning of their words to fully comprehend the message on show here.

What the people in front of the cameras and behind them have discovered, and which far too few in Western countries understand, is that if you take yourself seriously enough while inventing an entire narrative and looking injured and/or offended, practically no one is going to object or reveal the truth. In other words, Pallywood (“a bustling industry of alfresco cinema“, according to the man who coined the term).

It has been a standard part of news coverage here in the Arab vs Israel conflict for at least a decade. It’s in evidence . Faked photos (sometimes call fauxtography), faked clashes, faked injuries, faked deaths, faked dramatic poses, faked arguments and faked responses.

Take a look at the whole two-minute clip:

 

Now, while it’s still freshly planted in your mind, would be a good time to take a look at the aldurah.com website, and the ground-breaking, 18-minute video “Pallywood: According to Palestinian Sources” (2008), the work of Prof. Richard Landes.

The Guardian wants your refugee story.

Cross posted at Point of No Return, the blog about the Middle East’s forgotten Jewish refugees

Hanging of Jewish Students in Baghdad

The hangings of nine Jews in Baghdad’s main square in 1969 spurred the remaining 3,000-strong community to flee

Do you have a compelling story to tell about the Jews who fled Arab or Muslim countries as refugees in the years following WWII? If so, The Guardian wants your story. Yes, I kid you not - The Guardian. Why? Because it does not feel it gave a fair shout to some refugees in its timeline by Mona Chalabi published recently (expertly ‘fisked’ by CiF Watch here). That timeline omitted 800,000 Jewish refugees from Arab countries altogether. This is your chance to help set the record straight.  But hurry – the deadline is in less than two weeks. Register as a commenter and write-up your story in no more than 250 words.

Here are the instructions, per the Guardian’s Chalabi:

How do I contribute?

Go back to the original timeline and add your comments below. Although tweets, emails and calls are helpful to us as journalists, they don’t always encourage the transparent, open dialogue that comments beneath a piece can.

When should I contribute?

The comments will reopen for another two weeks. After that, we’ll choose the best contributions and add them to our interactive timeline. They will be highlighted in a separate colour to show they came from you.

How will you choose?

We can’t include everything. There is a physical limit on the article page and a conceptual limit about how much can be added to what is not, and could never claim to be, a comprehensive account of every displacement in history.

The displacements that will be added to the timeline will be those that:

• affected a large number of people either at the time or subsequently
• offer a different insight to those already included about the way that a country’s circumstances can disproportionately affect one section of its population – either through disadvantage or persecution

What should I contribute?

Succinct accounts of no more than 250 words will be considered (the longest entry in the interactive so far). Please include:

• the number displaced
• links to sources of your numbers as well as pictures/quotes that illustrate the story

Again – here’s the Guardian link to where you can comment:

Abu Qatada: a lesson for British Jews

Cross posted by Mark Gardner at the CST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I know Abu Qatada – he’s no terrorist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

However, it then turns very lazy:

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

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

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

Hunger Games: A Palestinian terrorist who tried to kill ‘as many Israelis as possible’

Cross posted at the blog,This Ongoing War, edited by Arnold and Frimet Roth. 

Barghouti Guitar from Impact of Terror

(Photo: Abdullah Barghouti created a guitar case filled with explosives, bolts and nails to maximize the lethal devastation of terror attack. Screenshot from the documentary movie “Impact of Terror”)

Trust us on this: being the parents of a child who was murdered changes the way you look at things.

Others might glance at a report quoting this political figure or that official, but that lens of bereavement and the immense frustration and anger that accompanies it tends to make you look a little more deeply than others do.

The secretary-general of the Arab League probably makes headlines whenever he issues a public pronouncement. Without wanting to be unkind, we don’t really care that much what he says or thinks under normal circumstances, and the feeling is probably mutual. Naturally, we  respect and defend his right to speak in the name of the people who appointed him, but Nabeel Elarabys views are background noise so far as we’re concerned.

For the record, he’s a professional diplomat who served as Egypt’s Foreign Minister of Egypt for four months in 2011 and before that was his country’s ambassador in New Delhi between 1981 and 1983. A lawyer, he has an Egyptian law school degree as well as a Masters in Law from NYU.

This morning, we noticed that he has some things to say that actually do intrude into matters about which we take a personal interest. Speaking about a group of convicted practitioners of terror who are serving long prison sentences in Israel, the jurist/politician is quoted yesterday (Tuesday) saying that he is 

following with concern the suffering of the Palestinian prisoners who entered indefinite food strike under very serious health conditions, especially the captive, Abdullah Barghouti, who entered into a dangerous condition due to his continued food strike since last May… Elaraby called on the international community to put an end to arrogance of the Israelis who use violence against the Palestinian prisoners [Emirates News Agency/WAM]

In the name of the Arab League, this senior figure launches into an appeal to “the international community, particularly the United Nations, the International Committee of Red Cross and human rights organization [sic]” to get involved and to “save the lives” of the terrorists who are refusing to eat and “to stop the inhumane practices against them“.

It’s significant that the hungry terrorists are not named by Mr Elaraby except for one of them: Barghouti. (We have the other names here.)

Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt: Mr Elaraby may have said the things he said because his Arab League secretariat aides failed to give him a proper briefing ahead of his speech. So we will try to help. And we plan to send this posting to his office by mail right after it goes up on our site.

We have written about this dedicated killer several times in this blog. Most people who speak about him seem to know next to nothing factual, so allow us to share some basics.

Start with this: the judges who sentenced him expressed regret that condemning Abdullah Barghouti to the death penalty was not an option available to them.

If you have seen the award-winning CNN/CBC/Associated Producers documentary “Impact of Terror”, you will recall that it opens with an extreme closeup of a musical instrument, while an explosives expert explains its diabolical character:

The uniqueness for me was the guitar. Nobody was thinking that inside there is a bomb. He put inside the guitar something like four or five kilogram of explosives, four kilogram or five kilogram of nuts and nails. That’s enough. That’s enough to kill tens of people [CNN transcript]

Among the fifteen people, mostly children, killed by the work of Barghouti’s hands was Malki, our daughter. 130 others were maimed. The lives devastated by his evil amount to many times more than those awful numbers.

We noted here a week ago that Barghouti has done an outstanding job from his prison cell of highlighting the bestiality that underpins his psychopathic nature66 innocent people killedNot enough, he says without blushing. In the intimate setting of a 2006 interview beamed throughout the world by CBS television’s ’60 Minutes’ program, Barghouti clarifies things unambiguously:

I feel bad because the number is only 66. This is the answer you want to hear? Yes, I feel bad because I want more.” [Quoted on a CBS site]

Speaking in an Israeli court in 2010, he again reiterated his dedication to killing more Jews once he is freed again.

Do the people in the Arab League’s leadership know these things? Perhaps we will be able to let our visitors know when our letter gets answered. (We recommend to stay busy in the meantime.)

The wheels of justice caught up with Barghouti a decade ago. Convicted for the murder of dozens of ordinary people, he is serving a longer custodial sentence than anyone else in the history of this country. Yet, when parts of the Arabic press write about him, they call him “administrative detainee and “captive”; bitter experience tells us their readers largely believe such nonsense.

(The following is a snapshot of Barghouti’s Facebook page on July 10th – essentially representing a shrine to a confessed and proud mass-murderer.)

Facebook Barghouti 10Jul13

The people who operate the world’s most influential social media website allowed an Abdullah Barghouti page to go up, and have permitted it to stay upDo they know the facts? We pointed this out two weeks ago [see "25-Jun-13: Dogs, psychopaths and the Internet"], when Barghouti’s active Facebook page had gotten 6,805 Likes; that’s more than a hundred for every one of the dead Israelis he murdered. Go visit his Facebook site this morning and notice that Barghoutti’s savagery now has 7,266 Likes. And of course rising.

What does the Arab League leadership think about such things? Who do they say to questions like these?

  • When you seek to put an end to what you call “arrogance of the Israelis“, is this part of a larger anti-arrogance plan? Is it arrogance when Barghouti boasts willfully proudly, openly about how good it is to kill Jewish children? Is it arrogance for him (and the others like him, and who Like him) to come out in favour?
  • How will the world know when the “arrogance of the Israelis” has come to an end? If Barghouti is allowed (heaven forbid) to leave his Israeli prison cell under pressure from you, would that be a sign in your value system that the Israeli arrogance is over?
  • When the woman who delivered Barghouti’s bomb to the door of the pizza restaurant on that awful summer afternoon on August 9, 2001 was freed in a tragically misconceived deal with the terrorists two years ago, did that demonstrate reduced Israeli arrogance?
  • When the proud, unrepentant Islamist murderers like Barghouti and Tamimi make speeches in public congratulating themselves on their great deeds, is that arrogant? Will you condemn it? Have you ever said one critical word in public – in Arabic – about the satanic hubris that it represents? Did any other Arab leader? Ever?

Why do we write about matters like this? Because so many people are interested in hearing what we think? Think again. Because we are obsessive? No, though others think we are. Because we’re vengeful? No; others have certainly told us we seek revenge, but we say and firmly believe this is about justice, and injustice, and about human rights in the original, honest, non-politicized sense of that term. And to be clear about this: it’s not for lack of constructive things to do with our time.

We are the parents of a child whose beautiful life, filled with constructive acts of goodness, was brutally ended by the guitar-case bomb engineered by Barghouti. Inside us, there is a burning sense of obligation – call it a hunger - to shake the apathy of people who fail to see that of the dozens of innocent victims of this despicable man, not a single one was caught in the crossfireThey were his target as Barghouti himself confessed. The same is true every time jihadists and other terrorists seek out civilian victims, as they invariably do.

His mission, his passion, was “to kill as many Israelis as possible”. That ought to be on people’s minds when the debate over how to think about the hunger-striking terrorist prisoners reaches the mainstream media’s headlines as it soon will. The imperative to understand this needs to extend in all directions – even into the lofty heights of the executive leadership suite at the League of Arab States.

History lecturer James Renton: “Britain should apologise for Balfour Declaration.”

Cross posted by the London based blogger, Richard Millett

James Renton and Deborah Maccoby of JfJfP at SOAS

James Renton and Deborah Maccoby of JfJfP at SOAS

A little known history lecturer is quickly becoming the new poster boy of the anti-Israel movement. Last night at SOAS James Renton detailed why he thinks the British government should apologise for the Balfour Declaration. He was invited to speak by Jews for Justice for Palestinians.

The thrust of Renton’s argument is that there should be such an apology because the Balfour Declaration lacked clarity on the meaning of “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, which, he said, unleashed an expectation of statehood amongst Jews that was never intended. He blames the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on this “misconceived, ill thought through policy of the British government”.

He also argued that the Declaration was based on the mistaken and anti-Semitic assumption that Jews had great power in America and Russia and that they were mainly Zionist. Therefore, such a declaration would encourage Russia and America against Germany during the Great War.

Renton thinks that there was never an intention to create a Jewish state and he quoted from a letter from David Lloyd George to the then Archbishop of Westminster, who told Lloyd George in 1919 that the Zionists in Palestine were “causing a stink and claiming that the country would soon be coming under their control”. Lloyd George replied to the Archbishop:

“If the Zionists claim domination of the Holy Land under a British protectorate then they are certainly putting their claims too high.”

Renton criticised Britain for advertising that it was a big supporter of Zionism while at the same time promoting national freedom for Arabs but without thinking either side really expected political independence in Palestine. This was because the British viewed both Jews and Arabs as “politically backward”.

You can read Renton’s thesis in Haaretz (contact me in you cannot access the link and I will send you the article).

However, his thesis is facile. For one he contradicts himself by saying both that the British thought the Jews had immense power but that they were also politically backward. Which is it?

For Renton the Balfour Declaration was mainly down to anti-Semitism. As he puts it “Balfour and Mark Sykes said nasty things about Jews” (Sykes was the government’s advisor on the Middle East at the time). And he downplays the role of Christian support for a Jewish state as well as Chaim Weizmann’s efforts in manufacturing ammunition for Britain during the Great War.

This campaign to have Britain apologise for the Balfour Declaration was dreamt up by the Palestine Return Centre. They launched a petition with the view to obtaining one million signatures in support of an apology by the time of the centenary of the Declaration in 2017. Unlike Renton, the PRC thinks the apology should be for the tremendous injustices” the Balfour Declaration has caused to the Palestinian people.

The PRC are now using the recent decision in the Mau Mau rebellion case, where Britain has been found guilty of complicity in the torture of victims in the Mau Mau uprising against British rule in Kenya in the 1950s and 1960s, to give their campaign a boost.

Renton spotted one difficulty with the PRC’s campaign though. He noted that there will be no one alive from the era of the Balfour Declaration to attest. So he suggested to a representative of the PRC who was in the audience last night that the PRC might have more success if they asked the British government for an apology for the Arab losses during the Arab uprising of 1936-1939.

The problem with that is that the PRC’s raison d’etre is the destruction of Israel via the so-called Palestinian “right of return”. They want an apology to undermine Israel’s existence. I doubt that Arabs were killed during that Arab uprising is of great significance to the PRC in the scheme of things. Renton might not know of the PRC’s politics, but there’s a good clue in their name Palestine Return Centre as to why they might want an apology.

Anyway, the wording of the Balfour Declaration is clear. What is meant by “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” if not a state? The clue is in the words “national home”.

Renton gave us a sheet of homework asking all 10 of us in the audience some questions:

1. Did today’s talk differ from your previous understanding of this issue?
2. Has Dr Renton’s talk affected how you think about the Balfour Declaration?
3. What aspects would you challenge, and why?

Maybe you could email him at james.renton@edgehill.ac.uk with your answers. He wants to hear from you.

England crushed by Israel’s winning goal at Jerusalem’s Teddy Kollek Stadium.

Cross posted by Richard Millett

Israel Defence Forces soldiers having fun before the Israel v England game.

Israel Defence Forces soldiers having fun before the Israel v England game.

England’s Under-21 football team, already eliminated from the UEFA Under-21 Finals in Israel after losing their first two games, were beaten 1-0 by Israel in Jerusalem’s Teddy Kolleck stadium to be left bottom of their group having achieved no points and having scored just one goal in their three group games (and that goal was from the penalty spot).

Israel also finally went out having won one, drawn one and lost one, although it all could have been so different had they not conceded a last-minute equaliser against Norway in their first game. England left the tournament in disarray which doesn’t bode well for the future of England’s senior team.

Over 22,000 fans in Israel’s capital Jerusalem watched a first half in which both teams matched each other but with neither side being able to finish. However, Israel stepped up a gear towards the end of the game and struck the bar with a dipping shot from 30 yards out and then almost chipped the England goalkeeper who found himself stranded before Israel finally crashed the ball home with just ten minutes left to the delight of the home fans.

Here are Israel’s fans celebrating the winning goal:

More scenes from inside the stadium in Jerusalem:

Israel's goalkeeper clears the ball as Israel go on the attack.

Israel’s goalkeeper clears the ball as Israel go on the attack.

football

Yours truly with Adam Levick at half time during the game.

Wearing the scarf with pride.

Wearing the scarf with pride.

Aston Villa on your.

Aston Villa on your.

Water melon being served up at the game.

Water melon being served up at the game.

The lads.

The lads.

Supporting both sides.

Supporting both sides.

The Israeli team celebrates at the end of the game.

The Israeli team celebrates at the end of the game.

Extremists fail to disrupt ‘Closer To Israel 65′ in London’s Trafalgar Square.

Cross posted by London-based blogger Richard Millett

A group of 30 extremists failed to dampen spirits as some 3,000 Jewish and non-Jewish pro-Israel supporters came out to show their support and appreciation for the Jewish state at the Closer to Israel 65 event in London’s Trafalgar Square today. Even the sun finally shone!

The 30 extremists were from the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), the tiny Jewish religious sect the Neturei Karta, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Jews For Justice For Palestinians.

A favourite racist chant of those from the IHRC was “Judaism yes, Zionism no, the State of Israel must Go”. How awfully nice of Islamic Human Rights Commission members to allow Judaism to be practiced. Now, all one needs to know is how much tax British Jews must pay to be allowed to continue practicing their Judaism.

Here are some IHRC members allowing Jews to practice Judaism in the UK in 2013. We can only thank them:

The hate of the extremists was drowned out by the words of Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks who declared that if the Jewish people had to choose between world criticism of or sympathy for Israel they would choose world criticism rather than be homeless and defenceless with the sympathy of the world:

Here are the photos of the day with some commentary. First, the good people:

The coolest person at Closer To Israel 65. Dig the glasses.

The coolest person at Closer To Israel 65. Dig the glasses.

A Spurs "Yiddo" at CTI65. It's not racist, it's an affectionate nickname!

A Spurs “Yiddo” at CTI65. It’s not racist, it’s an affectionate nickname!

Harif's lovely Michelle Huberman doing what she does best at CTI65. Bellydance!

Harif’s lovely Michelle Huberman doing what she does best at CTI65. Bellydance!

The brilliant and handsome Kasim Hafeez at CTI65.

The brilliant and handsome Kasim Hafeez at CTI65.

Yours truly and superb political commentator and author Carol Could at CTI65.

Yours truly and superb political commentator and author Carol Gould at CTI65.

This cool lady was spotted just dancing to the extremists' racist chanting.

This cool lady was spotted just dancing to the extremists’ racist chanting.

A packed and sunny Trafalgar Square for CTI65 listening to the Chief Rabbi.

A packed and sunny Trafalgar Square for CTI65 listening to the Chief Rabbi.

Taking a break from CTI65 to face down the extremists.

Taking a break from CTI65 to face down the extremists.

Israel supporters come face to face with extremism on the streets of London.

Israel supporters come face to face with extremism on the streets of London.

An Israel supporter defiant in the face of hate and lies.

An Israel supporter defiant in the face of hate and lies.

The extremists:

Praying for the Jewish people to experience more bloodshed just because Israel wasn't directly created by the Messiah?

Praying for the Jewish people to experience more bloodshed just because Israel wasn’t directly created by the Messiah?

I agree with this placard. But the Palestinian children are being murdered by the Hamas government.

I agree with this placard. But the Palestinian children are being murdered by the Hamas government.

As I was saying this Palestinian father's grief (see placard) was finally proven by the UN to have been caused by a stray Hamas rocket that killed his young son.

As I was saying this Palestinian father’s grief (see placard) was finally proven by the UN to have been caused by a stray Hamas rocket that killed his young son.

I wonder if this lady is standing up against real evil currently taking place in Syria.

I wonder if this lady is standing up against real evil currently taking place in Syria.

I actually felt sorry for this poor kid. He looks unhappy being pushed to do the vile bidding of his elders.

I actually felt sorry for this poor kid. He looks unhappy being pushed to do the vile bidding of his elders.

Thanks for coming. I hope you all managed to fit into the minivan for the trip home.

Thanks for coming. I hope you all managed to fit into the minivan for the trip home.

An anti-Israel agitator pointing out yours truly to a new recruit.

An anti-Israel agitator pointing out yours truly to a new recruit.

Yes! We've also had enough of Jews For Justice For Palestinians!

Yes! We’ve also had enough of Jews For Justice For Palestinians!

Ali Abunimah goes to Gaza

Cross posted by Petra Marquardt-Bigman 

He tried and failed several times before, but this week, Ali Abunimah finally made it to Gaza.

Obviously, the co-founder of the Electronic Intifada and passionate anti-Israel activist has devoted fans in the Hamas-ruled territory, and they eagerly awaited his arrival. Everyone – including Abunimah himself – was apparently a bit worried that there might be problems crossing the Egyptian-controlled border, which had been recently closed by Egyptian police to protest the kidnapping of several colleagues by Islamist gunmen. And it’s safe to assume that the fact that Israel couldn’t be blamed for the closure and other problems at the crossing made it all so much harder to bear.

Obviously, during his stay in Gaza, Ali Abunimah will do his very best to come up with many reasons to blame Israel. Indeed, his popular “narratives” about the bottomless evils of Israel and Zionism have presumably led to his invitation to the currently ongoing Palestine Festival of Literature (PalFest) – though it is a bit strange that an activist who likes to present himself as a serious reporter and political commentator would be invited to a festival that is supposedly devoted to literature and the arts. But perhaps Ali Abunimah’s advocacy should indeed be regarded as an art form that deserves to be featured in an event supported by organizations like the British Council and the Arts Council England?

I for one would never accuse Ali Abunimah of sticking to facts or bothering much with reality.

And sure enough, one of his first tweets after crossing from Egypt into Gaza illustrated one of Abunimah’s favorite fairy tales: that Israeli cities like Ashkelon are “occupied” Palestinian towns.

fishing

Of course, Hamas terrorists have similar views:

qassam

Unsurprisingly, Ali Abunimah is an outspoken supporter of the kind of “resistance” Hamas advocates and practices, and just like Hamas, he doesn’t waste time pretending that he is for peaceful co-existence: Hamas claims a Palestine extending “from the river to the sea,” and Abunimah wants to see this territory as “One Country.” Similarly, while Hamas denounces the Jews as the incarnation of evil, Abunimah makes his living demonizing “the Zionists” as inhumane Nazi-type racists who like nothing better than inflicting untold suffering on the poor Palestinians.

Given the fact that most Israeli Jews are committed  Zionists, it’s of course a bit puzzling why Abunimah would want to condemn the Palestinians to share “One Country” with such evil people.

Moreover, Abunimah’s claims that his “One Country” would be a democratic secular paradise with equal rights for everyone are laughable given the well-documented reactionary and even extremist views of many Palestinians.  As blogger Elder of Ziyon highlighted, a recently published Pew survey of Muslim views demonstrates that Palestinian Muslims “are among the most religiously conservative and intolerant” of the Muslim publics polled by Pew.

It is noteworthy that this preference is reflected in the proposed constitution for a Palestinian state, which stipulates that “Islam is the official religion in Palestine” and that the “principles of Islamic Shari’a shall be the main source of legislation.”

While Ali Abunimah is usually very good at ignoring the unpleasant Palestinian realities that can’t be blamed on Israel, he seemed somewhat upset to come across examples of Sharia enforcement in Gaza. Thus, he was clearly dismayed to find out that for web users in Gaza, “Dating sites are blocked!” – but naturally, he was reluctant to blame Hamas and suggested that “the censorship is done by the PA,” i.e. the Palestinian West Bank authority that he despises so heartily.

However, a Twitter user from Gaza contradicted him, asserting that “Hamas blocked dating sites recently. Part of their ‘modesty’ policing.”

just like

datingBy and large however, Ali Abunimah energetically focused on what he was invited for: demonizing Israel and advocating the abolition of the world’s only Jewish state in favor of his “One Country”-fantasy. Judging from some of the images that were tweeted, it unfortunately looks as if just a handful of people attended his workshop, but there were clearly some enthusiastic fans who listened attentively to @AliAbunimah debunking the two-state solution. Awesome #PalFest.”

deb

In addition to fulfilling his PalFest obligations by sharing his tips on creating “narratives” to demonize Israel, Abunimah was busy looking out for any new material that could somehow be used to rail about Israel. Among his finds was a sign in Hebrew that he promptly photographed and tweeted with the devastating comment: “Hebrew is still omnipresent in Gaza. #colonialism.” He was also appalled to find out that Gazans use Israeli currency.

Then it was time to echo the popular Palestinian “blood-and-soil”-theme. Visiting Khuza’a in the southern Gaza Strip right at the border with Israel, Abunimah tweeted a picture of a handful of grains with the melodramatic comment: “Palestinian wheat grown in #Gaza with sweat and tears under the occupier’s guns.” Another picture of the area, showing what seems to be a tower in the distance, comes with the claim: “New occupier watch tower regularly fires on farmers working their land in Khuza’a.” However, tweeting yet another picture of apparently the same area, Abunimah lamented that “Land once full of olive trees now barren thanks to occupier bulldozers and tanks.”

While in the real world the plight of Khuza’a’s farmers is due to the unfortunate fact that Gaza terrorists like to use their farmlands to launch attacks on Israel, in the world of Ali Abunimah and his fans, there is of course no reason whatsoever to wonder why the “occupier” would be so cruel to poor, innocent, hard-working Palestinian farmers – it goes without saying that shooting them and making their lives hell is what the evil Zionists like to do just for fun!!!

Let’s all hope that Ali Abunimah will be able to avoid any encounter with farmers in Gaza who attend Israeli fairs and workshops to improve their production – and hopefully, he will not ingest any of their produce! Admittedly, though, should any such misfortune befall him, he surely would find a creative way to spin it into an edifying story about oppressive-colonial-supremacist-racist-Zionist subjugation, exploitation, occupation and much worse…

* * *

Update:

Thanks to some hardworking – surely female – artisans in Gaza, Ali Abunimah has found an embroidery of his “One Country:”

ali

Fisking Rachel Shabi: How Dare the Israelis Suggest Palestinians Lied!

Cross posted by Richard Landes 

When the Guardian came out with their first article on the Israeli report on Al Durah, I thought that even though it was done by Harriet Sherwood, it was fairly neutral. I should have known that CiF would deliver the goods. Below the reaction of Rachel Shabi, with fisking.

dura“So low?” Lots of people and lots of governments have faked deaths. It’s not a particularly heinous or rare phenomenon. But wait, the Palestinians have done much worse: they’ve killed their own children and then made a media circus of trying to blame Israel.

Or wait, maybe the Israeli accusation of fakery is itself the indication of a horrifying new nadir. An Israeli report has concluded that Muhammad al-Dura, the 12-year-old Palestinian whose death in 2000 in Gaza was captured by a French public TV channel, was not killed by Israelis – and may in fact not be dead at all.

Back then, a short film of Muhammad and his father, both caught in a shootout, trying helplessly to shelter against a barrage of gunfire, was narrated by French Channel 2 correspondent Charles Enderlin and relayed around the world, turning the boy into a symbol of the brutality of the second intifada and the Israeli occupation. Now, Israel says those same images are yet more proof of a global campaign to delegitimise Israel – and are, additionally, attempts to invoke the blood libel.

Not invoke… deploy. If you look at the particularly vigorous life of all kinds of blood libels in the wake of Al Durah, from the extensive TV Ramadan series (2005) to the new variants on the old European variety (Muslim blood for Purim Humantashen in addition to Passover matzah), the blood libel is in the cognitive bloodstream of the Arab world.

And so begins another ugly bout of the endless propaganda disease that is so endemic to this conflict. Israel is reported to have killed 1,397 Palestinian children not involved in hostilities since the start of the second intifada, according to the NGO Defence for Children International in Palestine, but there are no investigations into their deaths because none have been as emblematic as Muhammad.

I’m in favor of an investigation of all of them, but I doubt that many of these statistics will hold up to scrutiny. B’tselem, whose figures are considerably lower, itself has a serious reliability problem. In any case I’m willing to bet that (had we serious evidence) we would find:

  • that the number is greatly inflated by including older teenagers (16-17) who are often combatants
  • that in no case were any of those children deliberately murdered (as Talal Abu Rahma explicitly accused Israel of doing)
  • that some of them were killed by Palestinians as herehereherehere, and here (not to mention honor-killings)
  • that a goodly number were killed in situations where their lives were deliberately endangered by Palestinian combatants firing at Israel from behind them

There is perhaps no society on earth with as dark a history of promoting a child death cult, sacrificing its children, encouraging its children to seek death, praising those who die, than the Palestinians. Any serious investigation here will not go well for the Palestinians, who systematically, indeed ghoulishly exploit the children whose deaths they cause.

kid killed by hamas

Egyptian Prime Minister Kandil and Hamas Chief Haniya kissing a baby killed by Hamas rockets aimed at Israeli children.

Shabi:

Those images of his terrified face seconds before his death were relayed around the world and are now burned into so many hearts: there are postage stamps of him, parks and streets named after him and screen-grab posters of that terrible moment raised on roads across the Arab and Muslim world.

And the most likely explanation for the terror is that Palestinian marksmen were firing bullets over their heads (but very close). Their expressions suggest that this was not what they had signed up for.

1st-bullet-a1

The opening scene: the circular cloud over their heads indicates a bullet from head on, not from a 30 degree angle (i.e., from the Israeli position)

Shabi:

This investigation, commissioned by Binyamin Netanyahu last year, seems intended only to give fuel to rightist Israel supporters – any report seeking to get closer to the truth might have bothered to speak to Muhammad’s father, or Enderlin, or France’s Channel 2. Instead, what this document provides is spin and no new evidence. It has cued a flood of commentary, about lying Palestinians and a hostile foreign media, from rightwing Israeli commentators.

Is it to be ignored because it gives fuel to those who think that Palestinians systematically lie in their cognitive war against Israel (something easily documentable), and that the foreign media is hostile, specifically in their predilection for passing on Palestinian accusations, no matter how unsupported by the evidence – as real news to their audiences back home? If it’s not your take on matters, not interested?

If my take needs Al Durah as a symbol of Israeli brutality, I don’t care if its been faked, it’s true. If the Israelis paint Al Durah as a symbol of Palestinian malevolence and journalistic incompetence, they must be lying.

Shabi:

But what stands out, yet again, is the disregard for anything Palestinians might have to contribute to the story. In effect, this report is saying to Palestinians: your words, your pain and your losses are insignificant, erasable bumps in this narrative.

First of all, Palestinian testimony in this affair is ludicrous. Talal Abu Rahma has been caught in a continuous string of false statements and sly retractions. The other “witnesses,” whose testimony Enderlin bizarrely submitted to court, talk of helicopter gunships that never were.

Secondly, given that Palestinians systematically try to weaponize their pain against Israel, even when other Palestinians directly caused it (see above and below), it’s really a bit much for you to get indignant when someone tries to call a halt to the charade.

YE Mideast Israel Palestinians

Jihad Masharawi

Jihad Masharawi, BBC reporter, holding his baby, almost certainly killed by an errant Hamas rocket. I feel the pain, I just can’t get behind the way that it’s used to scapegoat Israel for Palestinian brutality.

Shabi:

It is no wonder that Muhammad’s father, Jamal al-Dura, has said: “What saddens me is that I feel alone in the face of the Israeli propaganda machine …”, going on to lament a lack of support from either the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah or the Hamas government in Gaza.

I would take that as a sign that even the PA and Hamas aren’t willing to take this one on. “Everyone” – even (or especially) the Palestinian elites know this is a fake.

Shabi:

With this investigation, Israel’s government exposes its obsession with trying to win the propaganda war, as though this will magically make everything OK. Netanyahu has called the al-Dura incident part of the “ongoing, mendacious campaign to delegitimise Israel”. But the problem is that nothing could possibility delegitimise Israel more than its prolonged and oppressive occupation of the Palestinian people – the escalating deaths;

Escalating? Actually deaths in this conflict are exceptionally low. You want “escalating deaths” try Syria next door, where in less than three years more people have been killed (70,000) than in the entire Arab-Israeli conflict over 65 years.

media-vs-casualty-footprint

Shabi:

…the daily, grinding humiliation.

metro2

Ladies in a Gaza supermarket, humiliated in their open air prison.

Shabi:

The longer it continues, the more such attempts to obfuscate or detract from this reality – rather than bring about its end – will only make matters worse.

This is not reality that you’re talking about. This is a constructed lethal narrative, supported by statements that fly directly in the face of reality. (E.g., the Palestinians under occupation have the highest life expectancy, lowest infant mortality, and highest rate of higher education, than any other Arabs in the Middle East, except Israeli Arabs). Your article just illustrates the kind of reality-defying narrative that suits your purposes, the very epitome of the Al Durah Journalism that the Israeli report critiques.

The Rage, Relativism and Racism of Glenn Greenwald

The following was originally published at the blog Jacobinism, and is being reposted here with the author’s permission

“Then the idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone,

All centuries but this, and every country but his own…”
- W. S. Gilbert 

SHOT 6/8/08The ACLU annual membership conference in Washington, D.C.

For a commentator who gets as exercised about the killing of innocent Muslims as Glenn Greenwald does, he has had precious little to say about the ongoing catastrophe in Syria. That is, until Monday 6 May. 

After more than two years of an increasingly vicious civil war that has so far claimed the lives of an estimated 80,000 Syrians, events took a particularly ugly turn last week. On Saturday 4, news began to filter out of sectarian massacres committed by regime loyalists over the previous two days in the coastal city of Banias and the neighbouring village of al-Bayda. Graphic pictures depicting the piled corpses of men, women and small children were greeted with a wave of revulsion amid unconfirmed estimates that between 60 and 100 people had been murdered at both sites. Meanwhile, reports and allegations that the regime had begun using sarin and other unspecified chemical agents against rebel forces and civilians continued to emerge, intensifying the debate about whether or not Obama’s “red line” had been crossed and what on earth to do about it if it had.

Then on Sunday March 5, Israel apparently rocketed government positions inside Syria, seemingly with impunity and from Lebanese airspace. Although Israel has not taken public responsibility for the attack, it was widely reported that the targeted strikes were aimed at the destruction of shipments of Fateh-110 rockets being held in and around Damascus, en route from Iran to Lebanese Shi’ite terror group Hezbollah. Dozens of soldiers loyal to Assad’s brutal Ba’athist dictatorship were killed in the process.

After more than two years of silence on the subject Greenwald evidently decided that a red line of his own had been crossed and that enough was enough. So he drew himself up, approached his podium at The Guardian and declared:

Few things are more ludicrous than the attempt by advocates of US and Israeli militarism to pretend that they’re applying anything remotely resembling “principles”. Their only cognizable “principle” is rank tribalism: My Side is superior, and therefore we are entitled to do things that Our Enemies are not.

Greenwald, it transpired to the surprise of no-one, was not particularly interested in the horrors of the Syrian civil war – neither the butchery unleashed by Assad’s regime in Banias and al-Bayda nor the appalling human rights crisis afflicting much of the country warranted so much as a murmur.

What irks him is that those seeking to defend or justify Israel’s very brief and limited involvement in the conflict should presume to offer a moral justification for her behaviour when, so far as Greenwald can tell, their reasoning is nothing more honourable than a naked and single-minded chauvinism rooted in an unjustifiable Western exceptionalism.

In support of this contention, Greenwald defies those he calls “Israeli defenders” to defend equivalent (theoretical) actions taken by Iran or Syria on the same grounds of self-interest, or to condemn Israel’s nuclear arsenal with the same vehemence reserved for Iran’s ambitions. Stretching the already elastic logic of this argument to its limit, he even implies that those who defend Israel while denouncing Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan (the victims of whom Greenwald describes as “incidental”) are guilty of double-standards.

The use of this kind of shabby relativist equivalence to denigrate Western democracies and excuse the actions of terrorists and dictators is par for the course on certain sections of the self-proclaimed anti-Imperialist Left. But, oddly, Greenwald is indignant that anyone should presume to characterise his views in this way. “The ultimate irony,” he complains…

…is that those [like Greenwald] who advocate for the universal application of principles to all nations are usually tarred with the trite accusatory slogan of “moral relativism”. But the real moral relativists are those who believe that the morality of an act is determined not by its content but by the identity of those who commit them: namely, whether it’s themselves or someone else doing it….[thus] Israel and the US (and its dictatorial allies in Riyadh and Doha) have the absolute right to bomb other countries or arm rebels in those countries if they perceive doing so is necessary to stop a threat but Iran and Syria (and other countries disobedient to US dictates) do not. This whole debate would be much more tolerable if it were at least honestly acknowledged that what is driving the discussion are tribalistic notions of entitlement and nothing more noble.

Hmm. It seems to me that the only reason Greenwald is perplexed by accusations of relativism is that he doesn’t understand what the term means. Moral relativism holds that there is no objective means of deciding right and wrong so, since countries and their respective cultures cannot be judged by any meaningfully objective standard, they must simply be understood as different, rather than comparatively better or worse.

Pursuing this logic, then, a culture which tortures and imprisons dissidents is no worse than one which protects free assembly and expression; a culture which publicly hangs homosexuals from cranes is no worse than one which enshrines their equality and rights as individuals in law; a culture which confines women to the home and denies them the vote is no worse than one in which they run companies and head governments. Lest this sounds like a caricature, it ought to be remembered that Michel Foucault eulogised the Iranian revolution on the grounds that the Ayatollah Khomeini’s nascent theocracy was simply a different (and in many ways superior) “regime of truth”.

Greenwald’s steadfast refusal to arrange countries into a moral hierarchy explicitly endorses the complete suspension of moral judgement required by the above. As does his conclusion that there can be no reason for assigning cultural superiority to free societies, nor justifying acts of violence committed in their defence, besides an “adolescent, self-praising, tribalistic license” on the part of those fortunate enough to live in them. To Greenwald, it seems, arguments about cultural superiority are no better than a debate between competing, morally indistinguishable subjectivities, each as valid or invalid as the next.It is this thinking that allows Greenwald to endorse Mehdi Hasan’s assertion of a direct equivalence between a theocracy aiding a genocidal dictator by shelling rebels to further its own interests, with the actions of a democracy safeguarding its security and the lives of its citizens from Hezbollah rockets:
tweetShiraz Maher is correct to identify this as tawdry relativism. Greenwald, on the other hand, misdescribes Hasan’s position (and by extension, his own) as universalist because it seems he doesn’t understand what that term means either.

The universal application of moral and ethical principles requires the organisation of cultures into a moral hierarchy, according to the degree to which objectively good precepts and values are upheld. These might include a commitment to rationalist (and therefore secular) government; the protection of individual human rights, irrespective of race, gender or sexuality; the defence of free expression and free assembly and a free press; the independence of judicial process and so on.

Those of us who recognise the universal importance and desirability of the above, have little difficulty in ascribing inferiority to a culture that is – conversely – obscurantist, theocratic, misogynistic, racist and oppressive, such as that of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The recognition of this fact is the most elementary form of solidarity one can show to its embattled populace, enslaved by a tyrannical regime and its religious codes, who yearn for modernity.

However, it must be noted that, elsewhere, Greenwald has written passionately and extensively in defence of free speech. This is odd given the above, since it suggests an acknowledgement on his part that (a) freedom of expression has an axiomatic, objective moral worth and that (b) consequently, a society in which expression is restricted is inferior to one in which it is comparably free.

Greenwald has also criticised the US detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on the grounds that they deny those held there the protection of the rule of law and due process. But if these are markers by which it is possible to judge the American administration’s commitment to human rights, why are they not also suitable markers by which to judge that of the Iranian or Syrian regimes, whose behaviour by these standards is demonstrably much worse? And if these markers are deemed legitimate points of universalist comparison by Greenwald, then why not others such as the emancipation of women, and the protection of LGBTQ rights? And why the reluctance to judge, and where necessary indict, cultures accordingly?

One will search Greenwald’s writing for coherence in vain because, although he espouses moral relativism when it suits his agenda, as we’ve just seen, he’ll vehemently disown it with his very next breath. His is not a thoughtful, principled commitment to a philosophy he’s prepared to defend or apply consistently. Rather, his geopolitical outlook might be best described as a half-understood kind of dime-store Third Worldism; a gruesome combination of a thoroughgoing Western masochism with an ostensible compassion for the wretched of the earth that masks the same racist condescension and contempt typified by the worst kind of colonialist paternalism.

Thus, the planet is divided between the sentimentalised poor of the Global South and the brutal, arrogant power of the modern West. The former struggle valiantly beneath the jackboot of the latter’s economic and military hegemony, yet are ennobled by a humble commitment to primitive – and often deeply regressive – traditions, and confinement within a pitiable victimhood. Any resistance to the hegemonic power of the West or rejection of modernity is therefore held to be, by its very nature, progressive and laudable, irrespective of how barbarous the groups/individuals/regimes in question, or how retrogressive their aims. As Greenwald’s firm opposition to the French intervention in Mali and his unbending defence of the Iranian theocracy’s right to apocalyptic weaponry demonstrate, there seems to be no third world regime or militia repellent or cruel enough that he would deny them his solidarity should they come into conflict with the West’s democracies.

Greenwald can only withhold judgement of Iran’s dismal human rights record or Syria’s campaign of sectarian slaughter by affirming that Persians and Arabs are simply not culturally suited to the liberties and protections derived from Enlightenment thought to which Westerners rightly feel they are entitled. Instead, they must be perceived as childlike, simple and sometimes savage peoples whose cultural proclivities demonstrate a preference for subjugation, violence, injustice and fear over liberty and peace, and who are incapable of understanding egalitarian concepts of human rights due to their uniquely ‘Western’ character.

Greenwald is of course free to believe this if he wishes, but I can hardly think of a more reactionary or racist point of view. And this manichean thinking is only made possible by the application of an indefensible double-standard, one which demands that the actions of the West be judged according to a quasi-Biblical moral absolutism, whilst the actions of those in Third World, no matter how egregious, are afforded a relativist justification, and indulgently excused in the name of ‘resistance’:
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In the end, for all his righteous fulminating about injustice, what animates Greenwald is not a sincere and fair-minded commitment to universalist principles and norms, but simply a myopic and visceral hatred of the West, America and – especially – Israel. This is self-criticism, unfettered by perspective or coherent moral philosophy, and thereby transformed into a disabling self-loathing, manifested in unseemly displays of narcissistic self-flagellation.

With Israel, as with the West in general, no concession will ever be enough; no achievement will ever be deemed praiseworthy; no atonement, no matter how abject, will be sufficient. And if Israel should fall to her enemies, Greenwald would doubtless affect a tone of gravest sorrow and announce that, alas, once again, the Jews had brought it on themselves, just as America had done when she was assaulted by theocratic fascists on 9/11. But on that count, for the time being – at least as long as Israel possesses nuclear weapons with which to safeguard her security and survival, and the anti-Semitic theocracy in Iran does not – Greenwald’s spiteful schadenfreude will have to wait.

Those who advance the contemptible argument that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians demonstrates that Jews have ‘learned nothing’ from Auschwitz contrive to ignore the evidence before their eyes. It is surely because of this experience more than any other that Israel was established as a secular parliamentary democracy in which minority rights and free expression remain protected to this day. This despite being surrounded by peoples and regimes hostile to her very existence since inception, not one of which comes close to affording its citizens the freedoms Israel does.

Which is not to say I agree with everything Israel or America or any other democracy does. Rather that as an emancipatory model, free and democratic societies possess a worth above the immediate benefits they bestow on their own citizens and beyond the reach of the crimes they commit. The space provided for dissent and disputation allows for self-criticism and evolution; political accountability and an independent judiciary provide oversight, punishment and redress. The separation of religion and the State ensure policy will be decided on the basis of reason and argument rather than the enforcing of religious dogma. It is this framework that has allowed the West’s democracies to evolve and grow in ways that closed societies cannot, thereby facilitating progress.

The regimes in Iran and Syria may make no such claim in defence of their survival. On the contrary, their very existence ought to be an offence to anyone who cares about individual liberty, as Glenn Greenwald claims to do. And it is for this reason that self-interested actions taken by these regimes to further their interests are not remotely morally equivalent to those taken by democracies to protect their people. That is, unless, like Glenn Greenwald, you happen to be a moral relativist.