Israel is the only state favoring one religious tradition…except for all the others

If the Guardian or New York Times published a long essay about some tiny, obscure indigenous tribe in Africa with a language, culture, and religious tradition unique in the region, whose history extends several thousand years and was threatened with extinction, readers would almost certainly lament their plight.  Further, it certainly seems unlikely that many readers would challenge the tribe’s vigilance in protecting its ancient traditions, or its fierce desire to prevent the erosion of their unique religious-ethnic identity. 

Though this blog has been dealing of late with the specific false charge legitimized by Times of London that the new ‘Jewish nation-state bill’ proposed by Israel’s government will render non-Jews “second class citizens”, the broader debate about Israel’s right to identify with a specific religious tradition is the subtext underlying many online debates about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

Whilst it seems beyond debate that Arab-Israelis – whether or not the current bill passes the Knesset – will continue to enjoy the kind of democratic political rights that their ethnic brethren in the region could only dream of, the debate over Israel’s Jewish ethos is often clouded by the implicit suggestion that the rest of the world has moved away from such particularistic notions of statehood.

This is not true.

Even in the democratic West, for instance, nations maintain codified systems of preference for those claiming some historic, ethnic, or linguistic connection with the state. Many countries provide immigration privileges to individuals with ethnic or familial ties to these countries – an immigration preference system known as “jus sanguinis“, a ‘Right of Return‘ of sorts for people determined to share a preferred common trait.

Moreover, a third of the world’s 196 countries, according to the Pew Research Center, have national flags that include religious symbols.

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Pew Research Center graphic

Of the 64 countries in this category, according to Pew, nearly half have Christian symbols and about a third include Islamic symbols. Regarding nationalism and Islam, it should also be noted that no less than 57 countries self-identify as uniquely Muslim states.

Israel is of course the only country to self-identify as a Jewish state, the only one with a Jewish majority, and the only one with a Jewish symbol on its flag.

The existence of a sovereign Jewish polity – with the economic, military and diplomatic means to protect Jews at home and abroad – is no mere religious, abstract, or ideologically driven desire. Rather, it is a rational approach to ensuring the safety of a small, historically persecuted minority who can no longer risk relying on the good-will of enlightened nations to ensure its well-being, and indeed its very (individual and collective) survival.

Whilst the debate over how best to achieve the correct balance between Israel’s Jewish and democratic character is indeed legitimate, it needs reminding that Jews are not at all unique in seeking to maintain a majority citizenry united by a similar historical memory and a common political & moral destiny.

Times of London barely ‘revises’ headline about law which WON’T make Arabs 2nd class citizens

timesUnder any version of a ‘Jewish nation-state bill’ which may eventually be voted on in the Israeli Knesset, one thing is certain: Arab citizens of the state would NOT become “second class citizens”.  

Whilst efforts by the government to formally codify Israel as the “Jewish nation-state” have been the object of some serious criticism by thoughtful observers, we’ve yet to see one critic explain how the bill which Binyamin Netanyahu’s cabinet voted to approve on Sunday would even minimally erode the civil rights of Israel’s non-Jewish minority. 

Yet, as we’ve noted in three posts over the last two days, Times of London editors chose headlines for a Nov. 24th article by Gregg Carlstrom, another article on the same day by Catherine Philp, and a print edition version of Carlstrom’s report which all grossly mischaracterized the proposed bill based merely on the hyperbolic criticism of a few critics.  

(You can read an excellent backgrounder on the legislation by Haviv Rettig Gur at Times of Israel, here)

After multiple complaints to Times of London, we received the following reply explaining the “revisions” to the articles:

The headline on the first had “second-class citizens” put into quotation marks – “Israel set to make Arabs ‘second-class citizens’” – to make clear that this was a point of view expressed in the story…The second headline was similarly edited: “Israel wavers on ‘2nd-class Arabs’ law”.

So, this original headline…

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…was ‘revised” to this:

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The same minor tweak – simply placing quotes around the words “second class citizens” – was made to the other headline (for the Catherine Philps article) as well.

We feel it’s an insufficient change to a scare headline which plays into the shameful ‘apartheid’ charge – a smear more befitting the Guardian than the Times of London, whose coverage of Israel is generally the fairest among the mainstream, serious newspapers in the UK.

The pen is mightier than the sword: A Jerusalem event for pro-Israel activists

On Dec. 10th, CAMERA will be hosting a workshop in Jerusalem for activists who wish to hone their skills in countering and correcting biased media coverage of Israel.  Advanced registration is required, and can be completed here.

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Times of London again falsely alleges Israeli bill will make Arabs 2nd class citizens

As we noted in two posts yesterday, Times of London editors chose a headline for a Nov. 24th article by Gregg Carlstrom which mischaracterized a proposed bill designed to enshrine Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people” as one which would make Arabs “second class citizens”.

The article with the erroneous headline – based merely on a characterization of the proposed bill by some critics – appeared in the print and online editions of the paper.

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Times of London print edition, Nov. 24

 

It was also the featured story on the Times of London home page last night.

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Today, Times of London again misled readers by using a similar headline conflating opinion with fact, in a new article by Catherine Philp.

 

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Times of London, Nov. 25

 

Further, under the “Latest News” tab on today’s home page of their site, they again use the erroneous headline.

Recent News

Times of London home page, Nov. 25

 

As we noted previously, under two versions of the bill Netanyahu’s cabinet voted to approve on Sunday, the law – which would need to be approved by the full Knesset – would establish “national rights” for the Jewish people (such as the right of Jews to immigrate to Israel), while maintaining “equal individual rights for all citizens” regardless of religion.

(It’s notable that the Guardian was much more careful in editing Peter Beaumont’s article on the proposed bill, using the accurate headline: ‘Israeli cabinet approves legislation defining nation-state of Jewish people’.)

The Times of London headline appears to be a violation of the accuracy clause of the (UK) Editor’s Code, which demands that the press “must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact”, and we’ll update you when their editors respond to our complaint.

Times of London moves false ‘2nd class Arab citizen’ headline to lead story

As we noted in a post earlier today, Times of London editors chose a headline for an article by Gregg Carlstrom today which leveled a charge not supported by the text, and which mischaracterizes a proposed bill designed to enshrine Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people”.

Times of London, Nov. 24

We noted that under two versions of a bill Netanyahu’s cabinet voted to approve on Sunday, the law – which would need to be approved by the full Knesset – would establish “national rights” for the Jewish people (such as the right of Jews to immigrate to Israel), while “equal individual rights for all citizens” would be protected.  

Though the headline was possibly inspired by a stray comment by Yair Lapid, Netanyahu’s minister of finance, who used language echoing the “second class citizen” charge, an accurate headline can not pass off as fact an accusation which is only claimed by some – at least without quotes or some other qualifier.

Recently, we checked the Times of London again, to see if – after our complaint to the paper – they modified the misleading headline.

However, upon glancing at the the home page we noticed that the story is actually now featured on the home page.

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Times of London home page, Nov. 24 (13:30 GMT)

In addition to the extremely misleading headline, note that the story is even more muddled by the photo choice. The Reuters image illustrates a lone (context-free) transitional passage, about half way through the article, about a Palestinian killed by Israeli forces after ignoring multiple warnings while approaching the Gaza border.

Times of London readers who go to the home page of their site are now treated to two of the top memes about the region within the UK media: Israeli racism and Palestinians killed by Israelis – and, due to poor editorial decisions, are now likely to be under the erroneous impression that there’s a “plan” to make Arabs second class citizens.

 

Times of London claims (as fact) Israeli bill will ‘make Arabs 2nd-class citizens’

In early August, amidst the fighting in Gaza, we demonstrated that a headline used by Times of London editors in an article by Gregg Carlstrom included a charge – that Israel “admitted” to violating a truce with Hamas – which wasn’t accurate, and (just as importantly) wasn’t even minimally supported by the subsequent text.  

Following our communication with newspaper editors, they eventually revised the headline accordingly.

Today, editors again chose a headline for an article by Carlstrom which leveled a charge not supported by the text, and which mischaracterizes a proposed bill designed to enshrine Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people”.

headline

In fact, the article actually notes that – under the version of a bill Binyamin Netanyahu’s cabinet voted to approve on Sunday – “equal individual rights for every citizen” will reportedly continue to be protected, and that the law is specifically designed to establish “national rights” for the Jewish people, such as the right of every Jew to immigrate to Israel. 

In fairness, it was reported on other new sites that a few opposition voices in Israel’s Knesset claimed the bill would have the effect of turning Arab Israelis into “second class citizens”, and the term was used in the article by Carlstrom in the sentence in bold below:

Mr Lapid, who heads the centrist Yesh Atid party, called it “a bad law, which is badly worded”. After voting against the bill, his faction held an emergency meeting to discuss further steps.Mr Lapid said that the bill would alienate Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up about 20 per cent of the population. They enjoy equal rights under the law, but in practice have long been subject to discrimination.Last week the mayor of Ashkelon tried to ban Palestinian construction workers from schools, a move met with derision. “This morning I spoke with the family of Zidan Saif,” Mr Lapid said, referring to a police officer from the Druze sect who was killed in a shootout with the synagogue attackers. “What can we say to this family? That he is a second-class citizen?”

However, if the sub editor responsible for the headline extracted the “second class citizen” charge from the comment by Lapid, it’s highly misleading to readers.  An accurate headline can not pass off as fact – without quotes or some other qualifier – an accusation which is only claimed by some. (Note that the Accuracy clause of the UK Editor’s Code demands that the Press “must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact”.)

We have contacted Times of London editors to request a revision of the headline, and will update you when we receive a reply.

Former UK minister Warsi tweets ‘morally indefensible’ equivalence in Jerusalem terror attack (Update)

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi was Minister of State for Faith and Communities, until her resignation after disagreeing with David Cameron’s position on the war in Gaza, a policy she described as “morally indefensible” in its support for Israel.  

The row over her resignation was widely (and quite sympathetically) covered by the Guardian. 

Here’s Warsi’s Tweet this morning in response to today’s terror attack, in which Palestinian terrorists massacred Jewish worshippers at a synagogue in Jerusalem.

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

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

Mads Gilbert

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

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

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

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

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

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Guardian, Nov. 14th

 

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

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

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

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

Cross posted from the blog Simply Jews

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

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Guardian contributor Will Self

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

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

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What the Guardian won’t report: The role of incitement in fomenting terrorism

Despite the recent briefing for foreign reporters by Yossi Kuperwasser of the Israel Strategic Affairs Ministry on the role of Palestinian incitement in the recent wave of riots and terror in Jerusalem, we don’t expect journalists to deviate from their normal script which effectively blames Jewish prayer right activists for the Palestinian violence.

For those interested in learning more about this rarely covered and extremely dangerous phenomenon, here’s the slide show given by Kuperwasser to reporters, which includes examples of Palestinian officials glorifying terror, demonizing Jews and denying Jewish history.

(Youtube videos weren’t successfully embedded into the slide. So, you’ll need to click on the Youtube links to open a new page.)

 

Guardian article suggests Yasser Arafat abandoned terrorism after 1990

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guardian publishes two anti-Jewish screeds by ‘ex-Jews’, but censors ‘ex-Muslims’

Over the last month, the Guardian has published two articles by self-professed “ex-Jews” – that is, Jews whose hatred of Israel – and the putative sins of Jews and Judaism – caused them to renounce their Jewish identity.  

As Richard Millett noted on these pages, the latest work by discredited historian Shlomo Sand was featured in the print and online editions of the Guardian in October – a lengthy book excerpt which vilified Israel, and suggested that Judaism itself was compromised by immutable – theologically based – racism. 

Here are a few passages from Sand’s article in the Guardian.

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More pseudo academic anti-Israel propaganda in London

Cross posted from Richard Millett’s blog

Joel Beinin and John Chalcraft in discussion last Tuesday at LSE.

Joel Beinin and John Chalcraft in discussion last Tuesday at LSE.

It must be November because Joel Beinin, Professor of Middle East History at Stanford University, was in town. Last November Beinin was telling a SOAS audience that “Israel is heading into the abyss” and that Israel is putting Bedouin “into what would effectively be concentration camps”.

At LSE last Tuesday when asked during the Q&A after his talk “Why has the world stood by while Israel built the wall when we boycotted South Africa in the 80s?” Beinin replied, inter alia, that:

“The state of Israel is in some measure a response to western guilt for having sat on their hands during the murder of six million Jews. Now the Palestinians had nothing to do with that but, as Edward Said said, they are ‘the victims of the victims’.”

Beinin’s talk was called High Risk Activism and the Popular Struggle Against the Israeli Occupation in the West Bank and was chaired by well-known Israel boycotter Dr John Chalcraft under the auspices of LSE’s Middle East Centre.

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