Iconic photo of Palestinian ‘resistance’ fancied by the Guardian about to celebrate its 7th birthday

We just posted about the curious use of the following photo to illustrate a story by Chris McGreal on Nov. 7, titled ‘ Obama’s in-tray – Israel/Palestine.

While our post pertained to McGreal’s false claim that Israeli PM Netanyahu refused President Obama’s request to institute a 10 month settlement building freeze, the photo looked familiar so I spent some time after our post was published trying to trace it’s origins.

It was used six days ago, Nov. 2, in a ‘Comment is Free’ piece, advocating a bi-national solution, by David Wearing.

It was also used to illustrate a 2007 Guardian report by Conal Urquhart.

However, then I came across what appears to be a photo of the same Palestinian pictured above evidently climbing the very wall he’s then seen, in other photos, standing on. The photo which dates back to Nov. 15, 2005 is posted at a site called ‘American Intifada‘.

Here’s a closer look:

He certainly seems to be the same man seen in the photos above.

Sure enough, a final search finds a direct hit for that date, Nov. 15, of the man once he somehow climbed up to the top of the security fence.

 

The photo will turn 7 years old on Nov. 15, and there seems to be little doubt that we’ll see this iconic symbol of Palestinian ‘resistance’ for years to come. 

 

The end of Israel will have to wait: On the patient anti-Zionism of the Guardian Left.

One of the more misunderstood dynamics of Israeli politics is the Jewish electorate’s move to the right.  The increasing popularity of center-right parties in recent elections – and the increasing marginalization of left-wing parties – is typically characterized (at least in its national security policy context) by many in the media in a manner using “right-wing” in a pejorative manner: meaning less flexible, more hawkish, less open to peace, etc.

In fact, the degree to which Israelis have moved right on the issues of peace and security can be attributed to the failure of Oslo ‘peace process’ – and the broader failure of the ‘land for peace’ strategy, per such unilateral Israeli moves as their withdrawal from S. Lebanon in 2000, and the Gaza disengagement in 2005.

While a strong majority Israelis still support, in principle, a two-state solution, and a large majority support the evacuation of a substantial portion of the settlements in return for a peace agreement and the end of the conflict, the most important Israeli consensus is almost never reported: A large majority of Israelis assume that the two-state solution will NOT actually resolve the conflict with the Palestinians.

So, it’s not that most Israelis don’t passionately support peace.  Rather, most, based on experience, believe that the creation of a Palestinian state will actually make their lives less secure.

As Yoram Ettinger argued:

“The Palestinian Authority’s track record in the 19 years since Oslo has been heavy on hate-education, incitement, terrorism, non-compliance, corruption, repression of fellow Palestinians, support of arch terrorists such as Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, support of anti-U.S. terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq, and friendships with Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and other enemies and rivals of the U.S. and Western democracies.

The seismic “Arab Street” has exposed the endemic vulnerabilities of “peace treaties” in the Middle East, highlighting the Arab Middle East as the role model of intra-Arab violence, treachery, unpredictably, instability, fragmentation, non-compliance and violation of human liberties.”

The prospect that the new state of Palestine will become another Gaza-style launching pad for terrorists – with extremists able to operate freely upon IDF withdrawal – is a very real fear, one which much of the left typically ignores.

Further, few Israelis are under the illusion that most Palestinians are prepared to accept peace with a Jewish state within any borders – fears that are very well founded.  

In addition to the fact that Palestinian leaders have rejected two offers of statehood since 2000 (Barak’s in 2000-01fig and Olmert’s in 2008) , we’ve noted one especially depressing poll demonstrating that only 23% of Palestinians believe in Israel’s right to exist as the national homeland of the Jews.

Additionally, ignored by most of the mainstream media, the same poll indicates that over 60% of Palestinians express support for the two-state solution ‏(Israel and Palestine‏) but eventually hope that one state − Palestine − will prevail.

As I’ve argued previously, the bi-national idea is not only a dead letter for the overwhelming majority of Israeli Jews – but represents a political solution which would be militarily resisted if any party tried to impose it.  

David Wearing, one state and two states:

You’d could almost believe that David Wearing’s latest ‘Comment is Free’ piece, ‘A two-state solution is the most practical solution‘, Nov. 2, represented a rare expression of support for the two-state solution at the Guardian – where the one-state delusion finds the most fertile ground – but you’d be wrong.

In fact, a hint that the headline is not a quiet accurate reflection of Wearing’s intentions can be found in the strap line of the piece.

“Those calling for a single bi-national state are in the ascendancy but this would entail the end of Israel, which is not realistic.

Note that the end of the Jewish state is characterized not as anything especially undesirable, or immoral, but as simply an idea lacking in practicality…for the moment.

Wearing writes:

“The case for a single, bi-national state is now reasonably familiar. Israel’s illegal settlements are so entrenched that uprooting them to make way for a viable Palestinian state has become impossible. We should therefore call instead for a single, democratic state in the whole of the former British Mandate for Palestine.

But the logic is incomplete. Declaring the two-state solution unrealistic does not, by itself, make self-evident the greater feasibility of one bi-national state. The latter would entail the end of Israel, and of Zionism, as we understand those terms today. Is this really a more likely scenario than the colonial infrastructure in the occupied territories being dismantled?

Recent polls showing alarming levels of racism in Israeli public opinion, reflected in the new hard-right alliance between Likud and Yisrael Beitenu, suggest a polity that is not currently minded to dissolve itself under any amount of political pressure.” [emphasis added]

Israeli Jews, per Wearing, are not only racist, but quite stubborn to boot – as they are not currently inclined to entertain the notion of their state’s demise.

Wearing continues:

“...the most practical route to a bi-national state may lie in securing a modicum of justice and peace as soon as possible through a two-state settlement, thus establishing the conditions most likely to lead, through dialogue and consensus-building over the longer term, to a more enduring bi-national state.”

David Wearing is convinced in Palestinian ‘staying power‘, confident in their ability to eventually overcome the Jewish state’s existence.

In the meantime, Wearing is willing to wait Zionism out.

Anyone who follows this blog shouldn’t be surprised that the Guardian continues to morally sanction voices advocating for the end of the Jewish state, as the London-based paper has been in the forefront in legitimizing, not merely Zionism’s end, but, often, the most radical, reactionary, violent (often Islamist) voices within the region.

However, the ubiquity of such anti-Zionism at the Guardian shouldn’t blind those (on the left or right) who genuinely support a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict to the danger such political extremism poses.

If Israelis like myself are to take the profound risks necessary for peace, and support the two-state paradigm, then we must have faith that any deal with the Palestinians will truly bring security and mean the final end of the six decade assault against our existence.

Those advocating for a bi-national state – whether immediately or over time – necessarily are working to, in effect, irreparably erode our confidence in the efficacy of territorial concessions and other painful compromises which we are continually asked to make.

As long as Palestinians, and their supporters, can not inspire confidence that a deal with the PA will achieve a final and lasting peace, and will result an end to all historical grievances, then Israelis will continue to soberly view demands they disengage from land across the 1949 armistice lines as mere cynical ploys in a continuation of the sixty-four year Arab war against Israel, albeit by other means.

The moral equivalence game: David Wearing’s CiF essay on human rights abuses in Israel & Bahrain

David Wearing’s recent ‘Comment is Free’ essay (Bahrain may not be Syria, but that’s no reason for activists to turn a blind eye, May 8th) addresses what he feels is the tendency of nations to deflect criticism about their human rights records by pointing to far worse abuses in other countries.

“One recurring theme in the efforts to deflect criticism of the [The Bahrain Grand Prix] was the line that there are worse places than Bahrain. Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmad Al Khalifa, the regime’s foreign minister, tweeted“If any here to cover ugly bloody confrontations, go to Syria…”

It didn’t take long, however, for Wearing to pivot to his desired target, Israel.

“The retort…that worse things are happening elsewhere, also happens to be a favourite of the Israeli state and its defenders.

Activists and journalists who draw attention to Israeli human rights abuses are by now well accustomed to hearing this argument being made, sometimes with the accompanying insinuation that Israel is being “singled out” for more sinister reasons.”

Of course, by “sinister reasons” he’s referring to charges that the obsessive critiques of the Jewish state frequently include tropes which recall antisemitic narratives – often regarding the dangerous power of organized Jewry.  

A case in point is this Tweet by Wearing himself in January, which was one of several Tweets justifying why Israel is the subject of such intense media focus.

Oh yes, that “huge propaganda campaign”.   A nation vigorously defending itself from criticism is, per Wearing and his political fellow travelers, a uniquely Zionist practice.

As I was curious to learn more about this “huge” hasbara subterfuge, I Tweeted him back.

Wearing’s reply:

So, Wearing is among those ‘Comment is Free’ contributors who genuinely believe that Israel is protected from its fair share of criticism (by a “huge propaganda campaign”), and that he is in the vanguard of a brave few who dare challenge Zionist power. Evidently, Wearing hasn’t checked the Guardian’s own data store which would indicate that, far from escaping its fair share of criticism, Israel receives grossly disproportionate coverage at the paper in comparison to other nations.

Turning back to Wearing’s latest essay, he writes:

“There is no serious doubt about the fact that both Israel and Bahrain have very poor human rights records…”

Suggesting a similarity in the human rights records of Bahrain and Israel is simply an unserious proposition. As Freedom House reports year after year, Israel is the only nation in the Middle East listed as democratic and “Free”.  

Here’s Freedom House’s evaluation of human rights and freedom in Bahrain. Note, that six is the worse human rights score a country can receive, and one is the best. 

Here’s what Freedom House wrote about Bahrain:

“The al-Khalifa family, which belongs to Bahrain’s Sunni Muslim minority, has ruled the Shiite-majority country for more than two centuries.

Bahrain is not an electoral democracy. The 2002 constitution gives the king power over the executive, legislative, and judicial authorities. He appoints cabinet ministers and members of the 40-seat Consultative Council, the upper house of the National Assembly.

 formal political parties are illegal,

Freedom of expression is restricted, and the authorities routinely harass activists who criticize them publicly. The government owns all broadcast media outlets, and the private owners of the three main newspapers have close ties to the government. Self-censorship is encouraged by the vaguely worded 2002 Press Law, which allows the state to imprison journalists for criticizing the king or Islam…[emphasis added]

Citizens must obtain a license to hold demonstrations, which are banned from sunrise to sunset in any public arena. Police regularly use violence to break up political protests, most of which occur in Shiite villages.

Bahrain received a [human rights] downward trend arrow due to an intensified crackdown on members of the Shiite Muslim majority in 2010, including assaults and arrests of dozens of activists and journalists, as well as reports of widespread torture of political prisoners.”

And, here’s Freedom House’s rating of Israel’s human rights record:

 

Freedom House noted the following:

“Israel is an electoral democracy. 

Press freedom is respected in Israel, and the media are vibrant and independent. All Israeli newspapers are privately owned and freely criticize government policy. 

Freedoms of assembly and association are respected. Israel hosts an active civil society, and demonstrations are widely permitted.

Workers may join unions of their choice and have the right to strike and bargain collectively

The judiciary is independent and regularly rules against the government. 

Women have achieved substantial parity at almost all levels of Israeli society.”

Wearing continues:

“Whether states [other than Israel] do worse things is largely beside the point…”

Actually, this is precisely the point: the stunning intellectual failure of many within the activist left (including much of the NGO community) to distinguish between flaws in liberal, democratic states and institutional and systemic human rights violations which infect societies governed by despots and tyrants.

Human Rights Watch founder Robert Bernstein wrote the following in a 2009 NYT essay:

“At Human Rights Watch, we always recognized that open, democratic societies have faults and commit abuses. But we saw that they have the ability to correct them — through vigorous public debate, an adversarial press and many other mechanisms that encourage reform.

That is why we sought to draw a sharp line between the democratic and undemocratic worlds, in an effort to create clarity in human rights. We wanted to prevent the Soviet Union and its followers from playing a moral equivalence game with the West 

When I stepped aside in 1998, Human Rights Watch was active in 70 countries, most of them closed societies. Now the organization, with increasing frequency, casts aside its important distinction between open and closed societies.

Nowhere is this more evident than in its work in the Middle East. The region is populated by authoritarian regimes with appalling human rights records. Yet in recent years Human Rights Watch has written far more condemnations of Israel for violations of international law than of any other country in the region.

Only by returning to its founding mission and the spirit of humility that animated it can Human Rights Watch resurrect itself as a moral force in the Middle East and throughout the world.”

While Bernstein was focusing narrowly on Human Rights Watch his commentary is just as apt in addressing how much of the activist left fails to acknowledge the vital distinction between open and closed societies, has abandoned any claim to principled human rights advocacy and has descended into the abyss of moral equivalence.

The question of whether or not the malign obsession with the Jewish state in the media and “human rights” community is motivated by antisemitism can often be a distraction from the larger issue concerning the moral and intellectual seriousness of leftist critiques of Israel.

A  left which can’t distinguish between democracies and tyrannies or, at least, routinely engages in rhetorical obfuscations to blur such profound differences, is no longer entitled to claim the mantle of liberalism or progressivism, even narrowly defined.

 As such, David Wearing’s recent commentary is a perfect illustration of a dynamic this blog is continually revealing: the Guardian’s abandonment of anything resembling principled liberal thought.

Guardian contributor David Wearing’s Twitter pic: The Israeli Grinch who steals Christmas

In a post on Dec. 23 titled “How the Jews steal Christmas: Ugly Guardian story evokes Jesus as an oppressed Palestinian“, I commented on Phoebe Greenwood’s story titled “If Jesus were to come this year, Bethlehem would be closed“, which included this quote:

If Jesus were to come this year, Bethlehem would be closed,” says the priest of Bethlehem’s Beit Jala parish. “He would either have to be born at a checkpoint or at the separation wall. Mary and Joseph would have needed Israeli permission – or to have been tourists.

Greenwood’s story on the Jewish Grinch which stole Christmas ended thusly:

“The little town of Bethlehem? It will soon be the little ghetto surrounded in all directions by Israeli settlements,” he predicts. “We’ve already passed the stage where Bethlehem can be saved. Frankly, that’s why I don’t celebrate Christmas any more.”

The following cartoon – certainly in the spirit of Greenwood’s report - was posted on the Twitter page of  ‘Comment is Free’ commentator David Wearing on Christmas day:

As NGO Monitor (NGOM) noted about the cartoon Wearing posted (which illustrated a Christmas card distributed by the NGO War on Want):

This Christmas card shows Joseph and a heavily pregnant Mary encountering a Bethlehem that is “effectively sealed off from the outside world by Israel’s Separation Wall” and “Mary and Joseph being frisked on their way to find an Inn for the night.” Linking the suffering of Palestinians with that of Jesus and Bethlehem is a common strategy for emphasizing accusations of Israeli brutality.

NGOM president Gerald Steinberg added:

Linking the suffering of Palestinians to Christian themes revives traditional and deep-seated antisemitic theology…

As I observed in my previous post, the broader narrative advanced by Greenwood (and implied by Wearing’s Twitter pic) that Israel is inhospitable to Christians is belied by the fact that the only place in the Middle East where the Christian population has grown since the end of WWII is Israel.

But, of course, for Guardian contributors such as Wearing – who previously complained of a “huge propaganda campaign whitewashing Israeli crimes” – such dry, empirical data demonstrating Israel’s regional advantage in the rights afforded to religious minorities is never a barrier to advancing malign narratives about the Jewish state. 

CiF contributor David Wearing Tweets about ‘huge propaganda campaign whitewashing Israel’s crimes’

David Wearing, who has contributed eight times to CiF since 2009, has a Guardian profile which notes he is a PhD candidate in political science at UCL, studying Britain’s response to the Arab Spring, and is also a co-editor at New Left Project.

Briefly, New Left Project includes, as one of its “Friend” sites, the radical Left online magazine, Znet, where Wearing also has contributed.

An indication of how radical Znet Magazine is can be found by looking at one their regular contributors, James Petras, whose antisemitism is well-documented, explicit and extreme.  Here’s one of hundreds of quotes from his book, The Power of Israel in the U.S:

In this passage from his book (which I reviewed in-depth here) Petras suggests that Jews represent the greatest threat to humanity.

“The worse crimes are committed by those who claim to be a divinely chosen people, a people with righteous claims of supreme victimhood.   Righteous victimology, linked to ethno-religious loyalties and directed by fanatical civilian militarists with advanced weaponry, is the greatest threat to world peace and humanity”.

(Note that this isn’t a stray comment beneath the line, but, rather, the observation of a regular contributor to a magazine David Wearing’s site recommends.)

But, back to Wearing, whose Twitter feed I recently started following along with others associated with the Guardian.

Yesterday, he Tweeted four reasons why Israel is subject to particular focus in the world.

Here’s one:

Another reason:

Another:

And, this:

Intrigued by Wearing’s insistence that “a huge propaganda campaign whitewashing Israeli crimes cannot go unchallenged”, I Tweeted him a follow-up question:

His reply:

So, the Guardian political commentator is among those who genuinely believe that Israel is protected from its fair share of criticism (by a “huge propaganda campaign”), and that he is in the vanguard of a brave few who dare challenge Zionist power.

Evidently, Wearing hasn’t checked his paper’s own data store which would indicate that, far from escaping its fair share of criticism, Israel receives grossly disproportionate coverage at the Guardian in comparison to other nations.

Also, Israel’s huge propaganda machine, led by the dreaded AIPAC, has somehow not managed to stifle similarly disproportionate criticism at the UN, where, since 2006,  more than 80% of all condemnatory resolutions meted out by their human rights body have been against Israel.

Nor has the power of the Israel lobby Wearing warns of spared Israel from obsessive critical scrutiny by large and powerful NGOs (like Human Rights Watch) in relation to nations with far worse human rights records.

Moreover, the subtext of Wearing’s Tweets is especially troubling, and yet all too familiar to those of us who monitor such narratives at the Guardian and Comment is Free: That there’s something unique, or even sinister, about a nation or its supporters engaging in public relations to advance their cause – as if Zionists and Zionists alone engage in a spirited and robust defense of their interests.    

There are roughly 14 million Jews in the world (or 2/10 of 1% of the total population), and one majority Jewish state (out of 193), and the suggestion that the political advocacy of such a tiny minority represents a threat to “liberal” values demonstrates just how distorted the term has become within the (Guardian Left) ideological territory David Wearing claims. 

The unbearable moral inversion of CiF correspondent, David Wearing

The Islamic State of Iraq, al Qaeda’s front organization, claimed credit for the massacre, on Monday night, at the packed Saint Joseph Chaldean church in the heart of the Karrada district, in Baghdad, that killed 52 Iraqi Christians.

Al Qaeda in Iraq also threatened to carry out attacks against Christian churches across the globe.

“Afterwards, various attacks will be launched against them inside and outside this country, in which their lands will be destroyed, their strength will be undermined, and they will be afflicted by the humiliation that God ordained for them,” al Qaeda said.

Chaldean (pronounced KAL-dee-en) Christians are an ancient ethnic minority of Catholics who make up about 4 percent of Iraq’s population. More than 600,000 of them, half the Chaldean population in Iraq, are thought to have fled the war to neighboring countries over the last several years as Islamic militants have targeted them in viscous campaigns of murder, kidnapping for ransom and forced property expropriations. Chaldean Christians represent about two-thirds of all Iraqi Christians.

Indicative of the Guardian left’s continuing efforts to blame all of the world’s problems on America, the UK (or the West, more broadly), CiF contributor David Wearing tweeted the following in response to the bloody attack in Baghdad on Monday.

David Wearing’s Twitter profile:

First, Wearing is attacking  a straw man.  Nobody with any sense reacted to the Church massacre by asserting that the incident proves Arabs are pathologically inclined to massacre each other.  More importantly, his inference that diverse religious and ethnic groups (including Christians) were living in freedom and harmony in Iraq before the fall of Saddam Hussein is simply breathtaking.

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