Death of an anti-Israel lie? CiF Watch prompts 2nd revision to Indy torture story

Those who follow this blog (and other sites which monitor coverage of Israel) are all too familiar with the cycle of misinformation often propagated by media gatekeepers with a pronounced political agenda, by which smears spread rapidly across the traditional and social media before they can be effectively refuted.

Though a horribly misleading report at The Independent (Israel government tortures Palestinian children by keeping them in cages, human rights group says‘, Adam Withnall, Jan. 1) hasn’t quite gone viral, it’s impossible to know how many of their readers casually accepted their false allegations in the weeks it took us to garner corrections to their primary claim in the story, which can be summed up in their leading original sentence:

“An Israeli human rights organisation has accused the government of torturing Palestinian children after it emerged some were kept for months in outdoor cages during winter.”

The Indy evidently based its claim on a report in the Jerusalem Post on Dec. 31 which was based almost entirely on a report from the NGO PCATI (Public Committee Against Torture in Israel).  However, as we noted previously, the PCATI report in question is itself based on a report at the website of the Israel Public Defender’s Office (PDO), where you learn the much less sensational truth: the Israel Prison Service had, on occasion, held some Israelis who were arrested – for various crimes – in outdoor holding pens (for a couple of hours) until they were transported to court in the morning. This practice has since been ended. 

As we noted in previous posts, NOWHERE in the PDO’s statement (which they sent to the Israel Justice Ministry) do they use the word “Palestinians”, nor the word “torture”.

After our initial complaint to the Indy, the false charge that Palestinian children were caged for months was quickly amended and, more recently (following subsequent communication with their editors), they also agreed to make additional changes to more accurately reflect the actual language of the Public Defender’s Office’s statement.

This past Friday, the Indy finally removed all references to the word “Palestinians”, and included an addendum at the bottom of Withnall’s article noting that the change was prompted by their acknowledgement that the PDO never mentioned anything about Palestinians.

(Additionally, we’ve been in communication with editors at the Jerusalem Post over their report on the Public Defender’s Office complaint, and expect a reply soon.)

While the Indy correction represents a significant improvement over the original, what remains is still extremely misleading, as it suggests that a “human rights group” (PCATI) accused Israel of ‘torturing’ children, when the PCATI page in question does NOT characterize the ceased practice of keeping some prisoners in open-air cells for several hours (while in transit to court) as “torture”.  

There is of course a huge difference between an unfair or abusive detention practice and the outright ‘torture’ of prisoners, and it strains credulity to characterize what occurred at the IPS transition facility in Ramla as torture. 

Though it is of course the job of such NGOs to investigate any credible allegations of such abuse, it is the job of responsible journalists to accurately characterize the specific charges being leveled, and avoid false characterizations and hyperbole which mislead readers into believing something which either is completely untrue, or which egregiously distorts a few kernels of truth to advance an entirely misleading narrative.

Finally, Withnall’s hatchet job is especially galling in light of an official editorial published by the Indy in Oct. in which they emphatically denied charges leveled by some that they were guilty of demonizing Israel.

However, their decision to publish a sensational report with a scare headline falsely accusing the Israeli government of sadistically torturing Palestinian kids by holding them in outdoor cages for months during winter – among other libels they’ve published in recent months – significantly undermines their claim that they don’t engage in such reckless and libelous smears. 

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CiF post by Shimon Peres elicits enormous volume of vicious anti-Israel hatred by Guardian readers

A good barometer of the degree to which Guardian readers’ hatred for Israel is, characteristic of most bigotries, immutable, and not tied to specific Israeli policies nor tied to the behavior of particular Israeli politicians is the reaction to the CiF commentary by the Israeli leader perhaps most associated with the desire for peace and reconciliation, President Shimon Peres.

In a commentary titled “We in Israel welcome the Arab spring“, Peres’s plea that the Arab world turn their back on decades of tyranny and turn instead to a more tolerant, liberal, and democratic culture, was met with a staggering amount hostility and hatred by Guardian readers.

The military use of white phosphorous, as a smoke screen, is legal and has been used by NATO forces during recent campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet the word is part of the arsenal of anti-Israel agitprop with the implicit suggestion that Israel’s use of the weapon was illegal. Note how causally the commenter employs the term to impute malice – as if its use in Israel’s war against Hamas during Cast Lead was the reason why there’s a “psychological divide” between Israelis and Palestinians. (361 Recommends)

The ideological arsenal of the anti-Israel Guardian Left often includes the absurd argument that Israel’s economic prowess is merely the result of U.S. Aid, ignoring that the aid is a tiny percentage of Israel’s overall budget (Egypt receives far more aid as a percentage of GNP) and that all such military aid Israel receives from the U.S. must be used to purchase weaponry from U.S. defense contractors – an amount that actually represents a tiny fraction of Israel’s overall budget.  (261 Recommends)

Israel has been guilty of not compromising (presumably with the Arab world) since its very founding. (189 Recommends)

Israel’s very founding was a “land grab”. (283 Recommends)

Israel murders Palestinian children (242 Recommends)

Israel is an illegitimate “colonial outpost”. (208 Recommends)

Female IDF soldiers point there automatic weapons in the fact of Palestinian children just for fun. (323 Recommends)

Israeli is an oppressive, apartheid state, and agent of the U.S. (277 Recommends)

Israel “ethnically cleans” Arabs. Israel should no longer exist. (119 Recommends)

Israel’s economic success is merely driven by weapons of destruction.

Israel is an apartheid state.

Israel should return to “1947” borders, and allow “right of return” (euphemism for the end of Israel).

Israel is a state based on ethnic cleansing, and is not a democracy. (47 Recommends)

Israel has no right to exist, and is merely an apartheid Kafkaesque regime. (68 Recommends)

Israel has no moral right to exist. (66 Recommends)

Suicide bombing against citizens of the oppressive Israeli state is justified.

Israel is not a democracy and has no right to exist. (29 Recommends)

Israel has bombed orphanages. (54 Recommends)

Israel has attempted to bomb Palestinians back to the “stone age”. Settler are fascists. (34 Recommends)

Shimon Peres has committed “crimes against humanity”. Israel moral legitimacy is tainted by the blood of Arab children. (30 Recommends)

Israel is an apartheid, racist state, which ethnically cleansed Palestinians. (45 Recommends)

Israel kills innocent Palestinian children. (36 Recommends)

Israelis (including Peres) are fascists. (20 Recommends)

Israel’s creation was an act of terrorism and ethnic cleansing. (51 Recommends)

Quotes Illan Pappe in claiming that Israel ethnically cleansed 250,000 Palestinians while the British were still there, before the the 1948 war. (71 Recommends)

Israel is doomed for destruction due to their colonial project. (36 Recommends)

The Guardian Left, and “respectable” hate

In late January, during the height of the “Palestine Papers”, the Guardian went through their inbox of letter submissions and decided to publish one by Ted Honderich which morally sanctioned acts of terrorism by Palestinians against innocent Israeli men, women, and children.

Thus, the Guardian’s vast audience (over 30 million unique visitors per month) was implicitly informed – by their decision to post that particular brief polemic over the countless others which were submitted – that such acts of murder could, at the very least, reasonably be justified from a respectable liberal perspective.

The key words here are “respectable” and “liberal”, as the Guardian represents, in the view of the UK opinion elite and those who are influenced by, and abide by, such judgments, the gatekeepers of the liberal left journalistic establishment and, therefore, what their editors choose to publish (and not to publish) carries an enormous amount of influence and ideological weight.

This is the context by which today’s letter published in the sister paper of the Guardian, The Observer, (which Akus adeptly replied to earlier) by W. Williamson must be viewed.

Williamson – in responding to Nick Cohen’s essay “Our absurd obsession with Israel is laid bare” – posited the following:

[Israel] denies human rights and democratic choices in Gaza

To even have to fisk this charge gives it more credibility than it deserves, but since the Guardian deemed it worthy of such credibility, it must be noted how utterly fantastical such a sentence actually is.  It evidently really does need reminding that Hamas is the governing authority in Gaza, that they are the power which denies Palestinians within their territory basic human rights, that they brutally expelled the only real opposition (Fatah) in a coup in 2007, and they – not Israel – has made the decision not to hold elections since.

Williamson continues:

West Bank settlers are among the most incorrigible and dangerous racist bigots of our times.

This vile invective, just dripping with contempt – this insidious moral inversion – should not require reply but, as the editorial gatekeepers at the Guardian chose to grant it license, respond I must.

As even the most cursory survey of the Middle East would demonstrate, the region (over 99% of which is not governed by Jews) is simply awash with anti-Semitic extremism: literature and commentary which is pervasive (indeed normative) in Arab and Muslim newspapers, journals, magazines, caricatures, websites, Middle Eastern radio and TV news, documentaries, films, and educational materials – which has been credibly characterized as comparable, in degree and scale, to that of Nazi Germany at its worst.   Yet, it is the Jews in a society which is the most pluralistic, the most diverse, and the most tolerant, who are characterized by this writer – cruelly mirroring the very Judeophobic invectives which intoxicates the Arab world  – as the most “incorrigible”, the most “racist” and the most “dangerous”.

And, for his finale, Williamson says:

“Israel prides itself as the only democracy in the Middle East. In Gaza and on the West Bank it acts like a fascist state. Europe should now, as Cohen argues, demand democratisation not only throughout the Arab world but also in Israel.

So, Williamson would have us believe – and the Guardian chose to sanction – a narrative which argues that even Israel’s democracy (its independent judiciary, parliament, and routine free and fair elections) are merely an illusion, a chimera hiding its true, hidden, fascist nature.

In the eyes of Williamson – and what is at least debatable in the eyes of the Guardian – Israeli Jews are bigots, oppressors, fanatics, and fascists.  They are a state which denies their own citizens and those who they don’t govern basic democratic and civil rights, and is populated by the most dangerous racists in the world today. In short, Israel is a scourge on all which is moral, all that is decent.  They are a state beyond the pale.

Williamson’s letter – which the Guardian deemed worthy of discussion – went beyond the mere delegitimization of the Jewish state.

The intent of this vitriol was to demonize; its effect, to incite.

The Guardian judged it “respectable” or, at the very least, worthy of debate.

More hate beneath the line: Guardian readers’ continuing demonization of the Jewish state

Amos Harel’s column in CiF today, “What will become of Israel if Mubarak falls?” laid out the concerns Israel has concerning the possibility that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak may be replaced by a leader from the Muslim Brotherhood, or Brotherhood affiliated group – and the potential ramifications for the 30-year-old Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty.

However, the sober and non-tendentious analysis by Harel, a correspondent for the left-wing Israeli paper, Ha’aretz, still managed to elicit a flurry of anti-Israel vitriol beneath the line.

It’s quite telling that, even when Israel expresses the desire to maintain peaceful relations with its neighbors, it’s still vilified by Guardian readers – many whom seem prepared to demonize the Jewish state no matter how unrelated their hyperbole is to the commentary their supposedly responding to.

While the words and themes may differ, all such commentary is usually united by a one core narrative: That Israel is a uniquely oppressive (even evil) state that has no moral legitimacy – and should be seen as an ogre among the community of nations.

Only four hours after the article appeared, here’s what we have:

Israel is a belligerent state, and the U.S. is merely Israel’s puppet: (See Israelinurse’s post on a CiF piece by John Whitbeck, who described the U.S. as “slavishly subservient” to Israel.)

Israel has no moral right to exist:

Israel is an apartheid state which should be boycotted.  Israeli fears of the Muslim Brotherhood, or other radical Islamist movements are actually a sign of Israeli racism. (See our post on Rachel Shabi’s CiF piece making a similar claim.)

The commentary by the Ha’aretz correspondent represents nothing but Mossad propaganda.

Israel is a criminal state.

Egyptian Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman is actually an Israeli agent.

Israel is a cruel, inhumane, oppressive state, which betrays the memory of Holocaust victims – and indeed inflicts suffering on others that is reminiscent of the suffering inflicted against Jews through history.

Guardian’s PaliLeaks unleashes disturbing volume of hate in reader comment section

One of the more telling aspects of the way the Guardian covered the shooting in Arizona – which targeted congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and left six dead – was the way in which they used the deadly attack to demonize their political opponents.  Like much of the American hard left, the Guardian concluded that the attack was motivated by “inflammatory right-wing rhetoric”, without the slightest evidence that the shooter, Jared Loughner, was a fan of the conservative talk show hosts and politicians being mentioned.  Of course the mere death of evidence wouldn’t stop CiF’s Michael Tomasky from assigning such blame, acknowledging that “it can’t really and truly be proved”, before insisting, “but everyone knows.”

Those who read this blog regularly are fully aware of the time we spend documenting the hate and vitriol directed against Jews and Israel in the comment section of CiF which is unleashed by Guardian stories even tangentially related to Israel.  As we’ve noted previously, the Community Security Trust has named the Guardian as a major purveyor of antisemitic rhetoric in the British mainstream media in their 2007 and 2008 reports.

As CiF Watch actually takes empirical evidence seriously, we’ve taken the time to document “what everyone knows”: that the Guardian’s recent PaliLeaks reports have unleashed a wave of hate – towards Jews and Israel – below the the line that reaches new depths.

As you read the comments below, elicited from the Jan. 24 Guardian piece “Papers reveal how Palestinian leaders gave up fight over refugees,” please also note how many fellow Guardian readers recommend the remarks.

We posted previously on this comment about Israel’s unique evil, which still hasn’t been deleted, and has now garnered 870 Recommends:

Accusation that Israel is engaged in Ethnic Cleansing (506 Recommends)

Israel and the U.S. are the true rogue states in the world (484 Recommends).  Also, see our posts (here, here, and here) on John Whitbeck’s CiF piece, “On Palestine, the U.S. is a rogue state.”

Pro-Hamas comment (261 Recommends):

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Palestine Papers piece inspires 842 Guardian readers to agree that Israel is a uniquely “Evil” nation

The Guardian Palestine Papers’ article “Papers reveal how Palestinian leaders gave up fight over refugees” elicited this reader comment:

This comment – which still hasn’t been deleted – is one more example of the hate which hate produces.

What the Guardian won’t report: Official Palestinian newspaper accuses Israel of seeking the destruction of humanity

Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, of Palestinian Media Watch, highlighted an article which appeared in an official Palestinian Authority newspaper which described Israel this way:

Israel is a country -

“whose aim is destruction and ruin of humanity”
“which disseminates destruction, ruin and weapons in the world”
“which acts to kill nations, to threaten them and to occupy their land”
“which acts to disseminate the culture of hatred & racism among humans”

The article also denied the legitimacy of Israel’s existence when it labeled the Israeli Carmel Mountains “the occupied Palestinian Carmel Mountains.”

Oh yeah, and this article appeared in the sports section of the official PA daily!

So, what we have here is: Hatred? Racism? Intransigence? An impediment to peace?

Banish such thoughts!

It obviously must have something to do with the “settlements.”

The Guardian demonizes Israel, again!

Take a look at this headline from an article in the CiF UK news section on December 1st, and at the accompanying picture used to illustrate the article.

The (barely) subliminal message here is perfectly clear; war criminals are Israeli and Israelis are war criminals.  C’est tout.

There is no mention, either in the headline or the body of the article itself of suspected war criminals from other nations: as far as the reader is concerned, this issue applies solely to Israelis.

There is no proper analysis of the manner in which the Law of Universal Jurisdiction has been abused in the UK as part of the lawfare campaign employed by politically motivated extremists to undermine Israel’s legitimacy.

The quoted official from Amnesty International UK, Kate Allen, apparently has no need for the niceties of ‘alleged’, ‘suspected’ or ‘innocent until proven guilty’, let alone some kind of legal basis for her accusations beyond the ‘if I say it, it must be true’ mode of thinking.

“Unless a way of guaranteeing a means of preventing suspects fleeing can be built into the proposals, then the UK will have undermined the fight for international justice and handed war criminals a free ticket to escape the law.”

Of course Amnesty International are old hands in the industry of demonising Israel, as report after report of theirs indicates and off the cuff comments made by some of their officials and partners point to a disturbing institutional culture of anti-Israel bigotry.

Strangely, (or not) Kate Allen’s rigorous standards of proof of guilt when it comes to suspected supporters of terror organisations – those which allow her to partner with Cageprisoners and Moazzam Begg with a clear conscience – appear to screech to a halt where anyone bearing an Israeli passport is concerned.

In the eyes of many, Amnesty International has compromised itself by abandoning principles of universal human rights in favour of radical politics.

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At the Guardian, pictures are really worth a thousand (misleading) words

In “The Guardian has a problem with Photographs“, (CiF Watch, Aug. 8), Akus cited several examples of Guardian photos being used which either were misleading, inflammatory, and/or downright dishonest (one photo of Gaza used in a 2010 article by Laila El-Haddad, to reinforce the essay’s suggestion that Gaza was “worse than a prison camp“, below, was actually a shot taken back in 2005, before Israel’s withdrawal.  Subsequent criticism resulted in the Guardian removing the photo.)

Here is Harriet Sherwood’s recent dispatch about Israeli legislation which requires a national referendum before any decision to withdraw from Golan.

Of all the photographs to use, Guardian editors chose one from Ghajar at an angle showing the IDF soldier’s weapon pointed at a Palestinian child.

Can anyone seriously claim that the angle of the weapon in relation to the child is merely a coincidence?  Can someone truly argue, with a straight face, that the juxtaposition may not have been noticed by Guardian editors when making the decision to use this photograph?

For anyone even faintly familiar with the Guardian’s relentless demonization of Israel, the answer should be obvious.

What the Guardian won’t report (Anti-Semitic incitement by Palestinian “humanitarian” NGOs)

The debate in Israel over European government grants to NGOs (in Israel and the Palestinian territories) who supposedly engage in “humanitarian” work often centers around the failure to adequately monitor such groups to see if they’re abiding by the terms of their funding agreements.

However, more than simply a question of accountability over the particulars of specific grants, often times such governments fund NGOs who are openly committed to aims that not only aren’t peaceful, but often promote outright demonization and openly question Israel’s very right to exist – goals with run counter to at least the stated aims of the European governments in questions, as well as the EU.

(Other bodies who fund such NGO’s are large and well-funded foundations, such as New Israel fund (NIF).  Indeed, NIF has its own accountability issues – and still continues to fund NGOs who openly promote BDS, engage in delegitimization, and question Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state within any borders.  Such problems have been thoroughly documented.  See here and here.)

The BADIL Resource Center has been funded in part by the governments of Denmark, Switzerland, Holland, and Sweden – as well as Oxfam.

It’s stated aims are:

BADIL Center is an independent, community-based non-profit organization mandated to defend and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees and IDPs.Our vision, missions, programs and relationships are defined by our Palestinian identity and the principles of international law, in particular international human rights law. We seek to advance the individual and collective rights of the Palestinian people on this basis

However, more than merely “advancing the rights of Palestinians”, BADIL, according to research by NGO-Monitor:

Indeed, if there was any doubt that BADIL – who has consultative status at the United Nations – engages in extreme demonization (some of which clearly crosses the line into outright anti-Semitism), the group recently posted this cartoon on their website:

Something to consider the next time the Guardian, or an Israeli NGO, speaks of the “impediments to peace”.

Lovely tweets, by “moderate” Guardian contributor, Ali Abunimah, about the terrorist attack near Hebron

H/T: Yaacov Lozowick’s Ruminations:

Ali Abunimah is the founder of Electronic Intifada,  and contributor for the Guardian, Huffington Post, and New York Times when these progressive voices need a “moderate” Palestinian-perspective op-ed.  Abunimah, it should be known, doesn’t believe Israel has the right to exist, and has suggested that Israel’s actions in Gaza are similar to the Nazi massacre in the Warsaw Ghetto.

Here are his responses via Twitter to the cold-blooded execution-style murder of four Jews earlier this evening, two of them women and one pregnant:

Civilian deaths are always tragic. Israel must stop using civilian settlers as human shields for the land it is stealing

And, this:

And it is indeed tragic Israel cynically uses Jewish civilians including kids as human shields for expropriated land.

And, just for clarity, he notes:

that’s my view on this attack too if you need me to grind the point. Is that still unclear?

No Ali, I think we’re all quite clear on your views.

Guardian readers respond to CiF essay by Israeli Ambassador: Defend Hamas, Demonize Israel

Ron Prosor’s essay in CiF“Before We Talk to Hamas: No missiles means no blockade. When Israelis feel secure, concessions will follow. It’s that simple” – proposed that for real peace to occur, Israel has to feel secure that any territorial withdrawal, and other such concessions, wont’ be met by more missiles, terrorism, and incitement.  He noted, what should be obvious:

“[Hamas] must renounce violence, recognise Israel and abide by previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Prosor (Israel’s Ambassador to the UK) then pointed out that:

“At no point has Hamas satisfied these conditions – or indicated any intention to do so.”

Prosor noted:

“The Hamas charter advocates the destruction of the state of Israel, the genocidal slaughter of Jews and the imposition of an Islamic state governed by sharia law. When an organisation’s constitution venerates your murder, it is difficult to know how negotiations should begin – perhaps with a discussion of the flowers for one’s funeral.”

He continued:

“This week marks the fifth anniversary of Israel’s disengagement from Gaza. We withdrew every Israeli soldier and citizen, gambling on the formula of land for peace. Instead of peace and progress we received missiles and misery.”

He then observed:

“Our experience following the Gaza pull-out has scarred the Israeli public. Hamas’s missiles wounded the concept of land for peace, increasing Israeli fears and skepticism.”

He concluded:

“When Israelis feel secure concessions follow. Last weekend Israel dismantled the security barrier in Gilo, a Jerusalem suburb that came under heavy Palestinian sniper fire during the second intifada. If in Gilo no sniper fire means no wall, so in Gaza no missiles would mean no blockade. It is that simple.”

Yes, it really is that simple – except, that is, for the Guardian’s fellow travelers.  The Guardian printed several letters in response to Prosor’s reasonable argument.  They are really a sight to be seen.

Richard Horton

First, was a letter by Dr. Richard Horton, Editor of the Lancet – a highly politicized medical journal.  Lancet, it was noted, in a devastating expose by Honest Reporting,  reported on Lancet’s multi-article series on Palestinian health written by Israel boycotters that went way beyond accepted medical norms.

His letter contains passages, attempting to refute Prosor’s essay, that are simply breathtaking.  He says, apparently with a straight face (and I’m quoting him exactly and in context):

“Gaza is NOT a terrorist enclave”

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Guardian Recommends Blood Libel

Its not enough that “Comment is Free” obsessively publishes material painting Israelis, Jews and the state of Israel in the worst possible light,  “Comment is Free’ also takes to recommending similar such material in its so-called “Best of the Web” section on its home page.

Here’s a snapshot of what the Guardian is currently recommending:

As you’ll notice, item no. 2 on the list links to an article at  truthout called “Farming in Gaza is a kind of resistance“. If you click through, you’ll come to an article by Max Ajl who after setting the scene of Palestinian women tending to “golden bunches of lentils” near the Gaza border with Israel, makes the following unsubstantiated claim:

Or farmers try to plant seeds there, and instead of demolishing vegetation, the Israeli Army kills cultivators, lancing them from hundreds of meters away with sniper shots to their heads and necks. Many die this way, according to the major human rights organizations in the Gaza Strip.

We were there to escort them as they harvested their crops. The thinking is that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is less likely to kill peasants cultivating their crops in the presence of international witnesses.

The writer is clearly suggesting here that the IDF randomly takes pot shots at Palestinian civilians for target practice on a regular basis- and his evidence? Major human rights organizations say so. No link of course and no attempt to substantiate this bald faced attempt to once again slur Israel with a demonizing libel.

Why though a blood libel?

Well besides the fact that the fabricated allegation of the gratuitous murder of Palestinian innocents at the hands of Israelis amounts to a contemporary example of a blood libel, the accompanying image to the article shows blood splatter superimposed on an image of lentils as if to graphically drive the point home.

So in case you’re wondering who is Max Ajl, he apparently is a Jew heralding from Brooklyn that went to Jewish day school and is now based in Gaza/Egypt spending his days with ISM activists and running a blog called Jewbonics. Here’s a small excerpt from one of his recent blog posts:

Another cel­e­bra­tion of Israeli Inde­pen­dence Day. In New York, the Salute to Israel Parade is enlisting gullible kids from my ele­men­tary school to celebrate ethnic cleansing and politi­cide, giving them, once again, no hint that Israel Inde­pen­dence meant Nakba to the Pales­tini­ans, an intol­er­a­ble act that should be com­pen­sated in kind: return of the refugees. In Gaza, Israeli soldiers cel­e­brated Yom Ha’atzmaoot by tapping out some warning shots to terrify Pales­tin­ian pro­test­ers trying to assert their right to free movement within the Gaza pen­i­ten­tiary, keeping them well away from the dev­as­tated buffer zone that could be growing crops but instead is raw dirt littered with bits of metal, bundles of useless wire, and broken irri­ga­tion tubing, the exposed earth con­stantly eroding and bleeding its carbon into the atmos­phere.

A real modern day Theobald Jew.

And this is what the editors at “Comment is Free” see fit to recommend.

Says it all really doesn’t it.

Pass him a mirror

This is a guest post from Israelinurse

Seth Freedman has got something right. In his latest article on CiF he rightly says that all Jews remember exactly where we were on the evening of November 4th 1995.

I was at home in the Golan having coffee with a dear friend when her husband called to tell us the awful news. We never did finish that conversation.

But from here onwards, Freedman descends into the realms of fantasy, stating that “with three bullets, assassin Yigal Amir managed to irreversibly derail the peace process” and claims that the entire region’s political journey abruptly changed course as a result of that tragic event.

In actual fact, the Oslo Accords continued to be implemented. On January 20th 1996 agreements were made regarding the IDF redeployment from areas to be passed over to PA control, the election of the Palestinian Council and the head of the Palestinian Authority. The 23rd October 1998 saw the signing of the Wye River Memorandum and on September 4th 1999 the Sharm El Sheikh Memorandum was agreed.

Just as the peace treaty with Jordan, signed just over a year before Rabin’s murder, did not fall apart , so the agreements with the Palestinians went ahead. But on July 11th 2000, the Camp David negotiations fell through and just over two months later the second Intifada began, shaking Israel to its core.

Freedman chooses to ignore the fact that the extremist who derailed the Oslo Accords may have had the same initials as Rabin’s murderer, but his name was actually Yasser Arafat.

Even whilst Israel was still reeling from the effects of the second Intifada the Israeli government still accepted the Roadmap on May 25th 2003 and executed the disengagement from Gaza in 2005, continuing to try to secure peace for its people.

Freedman claims that Amir managed to “drive a wedge through the heart of the political system, splitting left from right and religious from secular in an unparalleled act of division”. My own experience of the aftermath of Rabin’s death was very different. There was a new-found sobriety and a sense of responsibility which led people from differing camps to consider what they had in common rather than focusing on the differences.

Freedman also asserts that in the last 14 years “the country has swung decisively to the right”. Those of us who remember the euphoria of Ehud Barak’s election in 1999 and the feeling that peace was now in our grasp may well dispute that claim. In fact, Israel has – like much of the democratic world – become more centrist. Just as it is difficult to identify any major differences between Labour and the Tories in Britain, so the divides between the Likud, Kadima and Labour in Israel have become increasingly blurred.

Unfortunately for Freedman, he fails to comprehend that opposition to the Oslo Accords was not an opposition to peace itself and that the vast majority of those who criticised Rabin at the time had nothing whatsoever to do with his death.

On September 9th 1993 Yasser Arafat declared on behalf of the PLO that, amongst other things, it recognised Israel’s right to exist in peace and security, committed itself to a peaceful resolution of the conflict and renounced terrorism and other acts of violence. Given the hindsight we have all gained over the past 16 years, can we seriously declare that the people who were sceptical about this agreement at the time were way off the mark?

In the period after Rabin’s murder a new movement arose in Israel called ‘Dor Shalom’ – ‘generation of peace’. Many will remember their bumper sticker: ‘A whole generation demands peace’. These were people who like many of us had come of age listening to Abie Natan’s ‘Voice of Peace’ radio station and spent decades singing ‘Shir Lashalom’ and David Broza’s ‘Yihiyeh Tov’. For me at least, the second Intifada brought a new understanding that it is not enough to demand peace only from our own government; if we ignore the fact that there needs to be a desire to work towards peace on the other side too, we are no better than a toddler trying to impose his will upon an adult by throwing a tantrum.

“[T]hese remain dark days for anyone finding themselves on the receiving end of the far right’s wrath” declares Freedman, but I can assure him that being on the receiving end of the far left’s shrill denounciations and demonisations is no less intimidating. It was a concentrated campaign of demonisation on the part of a small number of extremists which gave birth to the atmosphere in which the assassination of a prime minister could take place. To my taste, there is little to choose between that demonisation by the far right 14 years ago and the demonisation of the right in which the far left is engaged today and which Seth Freedman so enthusiastically peddles in the foreign press. Will someone please pass him a mirror?

Striving for peace is a worthy goal, but if the price paid for that peace is the making of certain sections of our society into loathed enemies, then we will not benefit from it for long. I for one learned from Rabin’s death that such a price is not worth paying.