Harriet Sherwood refers to future Israeli cities in the Negev as “Jewish settlements”

Harriet Sherwood’s Guardian report on Dec. 1, ‘Israel’s plan to forcibly resettle Negev Bedouins prompts global protests‘, focuses on objections to the so-called Prawer-Begin plan to resettle some of the Israeli Bedouin population in the Negev from unplanned encampments to planned communities.  

bedouin

(Under the plan, out of about 210,000 total Israeli Bedouin, roughly 30,000 will move, most only a few kilometers from their current homes, and will be compensated for their land.  Another 60,000 will have their homes legalized and developed under the initiative, per the graphic below.)

MFA graphic

MFA graphic

However, even more interesting than Sherwood’s disproportionate focus on an extremely small number of protesters in Israel (and a few cities abroad), is the extremely telling words she uses to describe the new planned Israeli towns which will replace the existing encampments.  

Sherwood writes the following:

Under the Prawer Plan, the residents of “unrecognised” villages will be moved into seven overcrowded and impoverished towns. Meanwhile, new Jewish settlements are planned for the region.

First, as with all Israeli cities, citizens of all faiths will be permitted to live in all new communities built in the Negev, and it is therefore inaccurate to describe them as “Jewish”.

Even more noteworthy, however, is her use of the word “settlements” to characterize these future towns.  These new cities, such as Hiran (currently a cluster of Bedouin encampments in what’s called Umm al-Hiran, 30 km from Beer Sheva), will be established in the Israeli Negev – that is, within the state’s boundaries as they were envisioned even under the UN Partition Plan of 1947, and as the boundaries were established under the 1949 armistice agreement.

Here’s a map of the area:

hiran map

Black arrow in upper right points to 1949 Armistice Lines – above which is the West Bank/Judea & Samaria. The Green arrow points to approximate location of Hiran.

Previously it seemed that the Guardian’s unofficial policy was to merely refer to Israeli communities in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) as “settlements”.  

However, the term “settlement” seems to have now taken on a more expansive definition: any place within the state (even within its ‘recognized’ 1949 boundaries) previously free of Jews but where Jews are now permitted to live.

h/t Noah

Guardian spices up coverage of MENA riots with incitement against Israelis and Jews.

The Guardian’s coverage of the riots and attacks on American and other Western diplomatic missions , as well as other targets, currently taking place throughout the Middle East and North Africa began on Tuesday, September 11th, with a video (sourced from Reuters) of what it termed ‘protestors’ at the US embassy in Cairo. 

At 23:30 BST that night the Guardian published an article by Associated Press in Cairo on the events at the US embassy which also included the same video and raised the subject of the film supposedly responsible for triggering the riots. On Wednesday September 12th, the Guardian published another video, this time of the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya in which, it later emerged, Ambassador Stevens and other US citizens were killed. The video’s strap-line declared that: 

“The violence is in response to an unspecified American film protesters say is blasphemous”

By 11:09 am BST, the Guardian had gone from “unspecified American film” to declaring – in an article by AP – that the film’s director was Israeli. 

Interestingly, here in the Middle East itself, there were no reports at that time of Israeli involvement in the making of the film: that notion appears to have been generated in the West, solely on the basis of the anonymous AP report, although the theme was later adopted by interested parties.  

By Wednesday morning US time, (roughly three hours after the publication of the Guardian article) the Wall Street Journal – which had originally run the AP story suggesting Israeli involvement – was backtracking

“On Wednesday, a records search turned up no references to any men in the U.S. by the name Sam Bacile. Israeli officials said they haven’t found any records of an Israeli by that name. The Journal was unable to reach the telephone number again and as of Wednesday, it had been disconnected.

The cellphone number used Tuesday was registered to a user at a home in Cerritos, Calif., where one of the residents was listed in public records as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.”

By this time, other media outlets too had realized that the supposed Israeli connection to the film was a hoax. Even Al Jazeera had managed to get the story straight by early Wednesday morning. 

” “Bacile” is now reportedly in hiding, even though reports suggest that the name is merely cover for a larger group, or a pseudonym for someone who may be neither Israeli nor Jewish – but who cited such an identify to inflame tensions.”

By Thursday, it was quite clear that there was no Israeli involvement whatsoever in the making of the film. 

However, that inflammatory – and untrue – headline still stands at the Guardian – appearing, among other places, under the ‘Islam’ category in its ‘World News’ section. 

Later on Wednesday, at 15:10 BST, the Guardian published another article by Caroline Davies, which repeated the same – and by then, obviously untrue – information regarding the film-maker’s supposed nationality.

At 15:35 BST, Julian Borger weighed in – also promoting the unproven involvement of “100 unnamed Jewish donors” in the making of the film and claiming that “Bacile still insisted that the movie would help Israel”. 

At 16:55 BST on Wednesday, Glenn Greenwald joined the fray, also pushing the already discredited Israeli angle of the story. Two days later, an editor’s note was added to his article. 

“Editor’s note: this article was amended on 14 September. The original stated that the producer of the film was Sam Bacile, an Israeli real estate developer living in California and that he had made the film with the help of 100 Jewish donors. This assertion was based on an Associated Press report that was published in Haaretz”. 

At 20:00 BST on Wednesday, Julian Borger was back with a rehashed version of his earlier piece which still contained unnecessary speculations about Israeli and Jewish involvement in the making of the film. That piece is also still featured as “Top Story” on several of the Guardian’s ‘World News’ pages. 

At 20:23 BST, the Guardian published an article by Rory Carroll, which was still pushing the “100 Jewish donors” line:

“Bacile wrote and directed the film purportedly with $5m (£3m) donated by 100 unnamed Jewish backers. The goal was to show “Islam is a cancer”, he told the Wall Street Journal.”

At 17:00 BST on Thursday, September 13th – well over 24 hours after the ‘Israeli connection’ to the film had been debunked – the Guardian rolled out veteran anti-Israel agitator Max Blumenthal (no stranger to online incendiary films himself) who, despite the fact that the story clearly lacked legs, wrote the following: (emphasis added)

“Bacile told the Associated Press that he was a Jewish Israeli real estate developer living in California. He said that he raised $5m for the production of the film from “100 Jewish donors”, an unusual claim echoing Protocols of the Elders of Zion-style fantasies. Unfortunately, the extensive history of Israeli and ultra-Zionist funding and promotion of Islamophobic propaganda in the United States provided Bacile’s remarkable statement with the ring of truth.

Only at 18:44 BST on Thursday, September 13th did the Guardian begin to set the record straight with an article by Rory Carroll. But by that time, of course, millions of Guardian readers had been spoon-fed with 31 hours-worth of defamatory untruths. 

There are several things which are deeply disturbing about the Guardian’s behavior on this story. One is the emphasis it has put on 14 minutes of puerile, badly produced hate speech as the ‘reason’ for the mass ‘rent a mob’ rioting throughout the Middle East and North Africa. That emphasis is particularly misguided and misleading in light of the fact that the attacks on the US missions in Cairo and Benghazi appear to have been pre-planned to coincide with the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. 

No less disturbing is the Guardian’s promotion of fictitious Israeli and Jewish involvement in the production of the film. Not only did the Guardian obviously fail completely to fact check the AP report it originally published, but even when the unreliability of that report came to light, it continued to push that version of the story because it dovetailed with the Guardian’s own existing prejudices. 

If the West should have learned anything over the past few days, it is that rumour – however ridiculous and unfounded – can be a very dangerous and even lethal thing in this part of the world. Whilst some people at the Guardian may find it useful or amusing to promote unsubstantiated rumours which they have clearly not bothered to fact-check, that is not the type of reckless incitement one expects from a responsible, respectable or serious mainstream media outlet. 

The Guardian must therefore promptly issue a prominent correction on each and every one of those articles citing, referring to or inspired by the irresponsible AP report, making it very clear that its reports were misleading, unfounded and untruthful. 

If it has the necessary conscience and guts, the Guardian will also admit to gross professional negligence.

The British Ambassador in Israel’s TV interview – and some home truths.

In recent weeks, Israelis have had to put up with the ‘evaporation’ of their capital city and the placing of rather revealing pictures supposedly portraying their country on the Olympics-dedicated pages of the BBC website. 

In addition, they discovered that the organisers of the London Olympic Games – whilst lacking the backbone to stand up to the IOC’s refusal to include a minute of silence for the 11 Israeli athletes murdered in Munich – did manage to weave a tribute to their own losses to terror into the opening ceremony and that a ‘mood of reflection’ was – appropriately – possible after all. 

Obviously feeling the heat, the UK government seems to have attempted some sort of rather bizarre damage control by sending its ambassador in Israel to an interview with Channel 10 news which was broadcast on the prime-time main news slot on August 2nd

Somewhat uncharacteristically for an Israeli journalist, the interviewer failed to challenge the ambassador’s swift side-stepping of the BBC scandal, allowing him to fabricate the impression that the British government (and in particular the Foreign and Commonwealth Office) has no input into the BBC and that soft diplomacy is not part of the remit of certain arms of the corporation. 

Apparently attempting to deflect the embarrassment caused by the highly publicised BBC website row, the ambassador launched a classic FCO-style assault – thinly veiled with passive-aggressive pseudo pathos – ostensibly aimed at saving his Israeli audience from themselves by mirroring British attitudes towards them. 

In stark contrast to the statements made during his recent speech in the Knesset, the ambassador informed Israelis that “support for Israel is starting to erode and that’s not about those people on the fringe”. Less than a month ago, when the same ambassador was trying to drum up Israeli interest in academic and economic co-operation with recession-struck Britain, Israel’s detractors were described as being “on the margin of political life”. Now all of a sudden, the same ambassador speaks of “members of Parliament in the middle; the majority”. 

Predictably, the onus of responsibility for “lack of progress towards peace” which Gould cites as a cause of “growing concern” was placed exclusively at Israel’s door, with – according to him – British patience being tried by “a stream of announcements about new building in settlements” and anti-Israel sentiment growing as people “read stories about what’s going on in the West Bank” and “read about the restrictions in Gaza”. 

However, home truths can work both ways and it therefore must be said that it is highly regrettable that the British Ambassador refrained from honestly evaluating the role of his own government and the media in his own nation in propagating exactly the kind of stories to which he refers as affecting “majority” opinion. 

As the ambassador correctly states, the British people are by no means “stupid” but they, their politicians and apparently also their diplomats, are fed a constant largely monotone diet of one-sided and chronically misleading coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict by media organisations such as the (partly UK government-funded) BBC, the Guardian, the Independent and others, which nourishes the “Israel as Goliath, Palestinians as David ” myth. 

(And as if on cue, Harriet Sherwood was quick to use the ambassador’s interview to add further oxygen to the bubble of mutually assured myth.)

No less importantly, the blind eye deliberately turned by the UK government to lobbying, fund-raising and campaigning by organisations linked to Hamas and other terror groups and their supporters on British streets and even inside the British parliament – in many cases with Charity Commission approval and resulting tax exemptions – needs to be included  in any honestly compiled list of factors affecting British public opinion. 

And of course the fact that successive British governments have donated vast amounts of money to NGOs engaged in the delegitimisation of Israel (and continue to do so) also contributes to the adoption of warped views of the conflict, as do the decidedly undiplomatic activities of some of Mr Gould’s colleagues

In other words, the big stick carried by Britain’s soft-speaking ambassador contains no small amount of British wood. 

Israelis know exactly how much they have sacrificed in the quest for an elusive peace. They have thousands of graves to remind them of the pre and post-Oslo victims of the Palestinian refusal to come to terms with Jewish existence in the Middle East. They have many more thousands of neighbours and family members injured, maimed and disfigured in terror attacks or uprooted from Sinai and Gush Katif to remind them of the price paid by the living. Millions of Israelis live daily with the threat of terrorist missiles and attacks from Gaza in the south or Hizballah in the north. 

As a diplomatic guest in Israel, the British Ambassador should be aware of these painful testimonies to Israel’s numerous attempts to advance peace. He should be capable of recognising the fact that the responsibility for the failed outcome of  those attempts to date cannot be laid exclusively at Israel’s door and indeed that his own country has a long-standing tradition of contributing much to past and present failures. 

One would think that after almost a century of somewhat inglorious history in the Middle East, the FCO would finally have grasped that its traditionally imbalanced and inaccurate assessments have done no favours to the region. 

Some recognition on its part of the fact that whilst the Israelis are committed to pursuing peace with their neighbours, they are also very well acquainted with – and realistic about – the factors preventing that hope from materializing, would contribute significantly more to bringing about positive change than such anachronistic – if all too predictable – patronising  finger-wagging from Westminster.  

Anatomy of a story from Gaza.

It is not a new tactic. When Palestinian terrorists in Gaza decide to up their usual daily quota of rocket fire at civilian communities in the south of Israel, a story suddenly breaks about a child in Gaza killed by Israel. So it was in March 2012 when Harriet Sherwood and many others blindly attributed the death of a boy named Nayif Qarmout to Israeli actions.

And so it is too in the latest round of escalated missile fire from Gaza which is still going on. On Tuesday, June 19th, a story emerged about a toddler named Hadeel Haddad from the Zeitoun neighbourhood in Gaza, supposedly killed in an Israeli airstrike. 

The IDF quickly confirmed that it had not been operating in the area at the time and Ma’an news agency stated (at least on its English language site) that the little girl’s death was related to Palestinian terrorists firing a rocket from the region of her family’s home. Some 10 to 15% of all rockets fired fall short and land in Gaza itself.

However, the false version of the story was published widely (and is still available on the web) in Palestinian press and other media outlets – among them Scoop (Kia Ora’s Julie Webb-Pullman reporting), The Shia Post, the official PA Wafa news agency, the Palestine Press news agency,  the Palestine Times,  Palestine Today and the Iranian Ahul Bayt news agency. 

So where did the story originate? Most of the media outlets claim that their source was Adham Abu Selmeyya (aka Adham Abu Musa Salamia) – spokesman for the Emergency and Ambulance Services in Gaza. Selmeyya, however, has a history of exploiting his official position to spread untrue stories.  In fact, as Elder of Ziyon points out, he was also the person who spread the false story about Nayif Qarmout. 

Another aspect to the story is that of the photograph of the dead child – obviously taken at a mortuary. The website ‘Occupied Palestine’, which ran the story using that photograph, credited it to Twitter user @PFLP67 and indeed the photograph appears on his timeline, addressed to the ‘Occupy Palestine’ Twitter account. The same picture was also used by several of the media outlets promoting the false story. 

Note: @PFLP67′s Twitter account now seems to be experiencing technical difficulties or to have been blocked, so that is the reason the  disturbing image is being published here.

Whilst it is not known whether or not @PFLP67  (whose twitter profile states, predictably, that “the way to Palestine passes via the barrel of a gun”) took the picture himself, what we obviously do have here is a member of a terrorist organization who either has access to the morgue in Gaza himself, or has an associate there, promoting a picture which does not tell the story as he claims it to be. What @PFLP67′s connections are (if any) to Adham Abu Selmeyya and the Gaza emergency and ambulance services remains, of course, a mystery. 

Besides the story being published by media outlets and news agencies, it also spread via Twitter and Facebook.

Some of those Tweeting the story appear to have got their original information from the timeline of the BBC’s correspondent in Gaza, Jon Donnison. 

However, despite the fact that Donnison – who would also appear  to have got the story from Adham Abu Selmeyya – has obviously yet to learn that ‘medical sources in Gaza’ can also be ‘propaganda sources in Gaza’ (and sometimes worse), he did correct himself within the hour. 

Unfortunately, by that time the damage was already done, with the false information – now sporting the trusted BBC’s stamp of approval – retweeted and passed on and his correction largely ignored. 

And what of the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood? Well, her somewhat belated report on the current barrage of rocket attacks on southern Israel, published well over 24 hours after the attacks commenced, appears to indicate that this time around she managed to avoid falling into the trap set by Adham Abu Selmeyya the ‘medical source’ propagandist.

“A two-year-old Palestinian girl was killed in an explosion in Gaza on Tuesday evening, and her brother was injured. The Israeli military denied it had launched an air strike in the area. According to the Palestinian news agency, Ma’an, witnesses said the child died when militants launched a rocket nearby.”

Once bitten twice shy? Let’s hope that the BBC learns the same lesson soon, because spreading unsubstantiated stories and rumours is a very dangerous practice in the Middle East and journalists – like medical staff – should be bound by the commitment to do no harm. 

Overview of Guardian coverage of Israel: April 30th to May 27th 2012.

Last month we published a review of the Guardian’s coverage of events in Israel during April, highlighting the subjects it chose to address and – no less important – those it did not. Several readers suggested that this should become a regular exercise, so here is a breakdown of the subjects tackled during the period from April 30th to May 27th 2012. 

During that four-week period, 58 articles appeared on the ‘Israel’ page of the World News section on the Guardian’s website. Two of those actually appear twice, so in fact we are addressing 56 articles, eleven of which also appeared on the ‘Israel’ page of ‘Comment is Free’

Three items dealt with the subject of boycotts against Israeli targets whilst three others were obituaries. One article pertained to literature and one other was a video report in Jon Ronson’s series about ‘astroturfing’. 

Six articles dealt with the Iranian nuclear issue and two pertained to the subject of the British government’s reaction to a hypothetical Israeli military strike on Iran. 

Two articles speculating about early elections in Israel were followed by five articles about the Kadima party’s joining the coalition government. 

One article contained archive material concerning the Manchester Guardian’s coverage of Israel’s declaration of Independence in 1948 whilst four items dealt with the subject of events on Nakba Day 2012. Five articles were published on the subject of the Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike whilst a further four dealt with subjects which can be classified as carrying a theme of ‘Israeli authorities against Palestinians’. 

Two articles were connected to the subject of the Olympics – one concerning the IOC refusal to mark the Munich terror attack and the other about disabled Palestinian Olympians. Two items related to the Israeli TV series ‘Hatufim’ – one of which still carries the spelling mistake “Israeil” in its by-line. 

Four articles (three of which appeared on the same day) were about the subject of illegal migrants in Israel, one dealt with the subject of the Mavi Marmara flotilla and potential compensation arrangements and two articles can be classified as relating to ‘settlements’ or ‘settlers’. 

Six items appearing on the ‘Israel’ page have little if any connection to Israel, including one about the Hamas clamp-down on the ‘Palfest’ event in Gaza, one about Palestinian Authority actions against Palestinian journalists, one about human rights in Bahrain and another concerning Egypt and Saudi Arabia

So what did the Guardian choose not to report during the same period of time? A partial list includes the following: 

On April 30th a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip fell near the town of Sderot. (source)

On May 1st shots were fired from the Gaza Strip at Israeli soldiers engaged in routine activities on the Israeli side of the border fence. During the week May 2nd to May 8th, two rockets and one mortar fired from Gaza hit the western Negev.(source)

On May 3rd, two Palestinians carrying knives and explosives were arrested at Tapuach Junction. Later the same night, a Palestinian carrying a knife tried to infiltrate the village of Elon Moreh. 

On May 7th, Israeli soldiers thwarted an attempt to smuggle weapons through the Kalandia checkpoint. On the same day, a Palestinian carrying three pipe bombs was apprehended near Tapuach Junction. 

During the week May 9th to May 15th, one rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit the western Negev. On May 10th Egyptian security forces apprehended three vehicles containing weapons – including 40 anti-tank missiles – being smuggled from Libya. (source)

Also on May 10th, two Palestinians carrying pipe bombs and fire bombs were arrested by the Border Police near Tapuach Junction. 

On May 20th a Palestinian tried to stab a soldier at a roadblock. During the preceding month, three Israeli civilians were wounded in stabbing attacks. Information concerning the apprehension of a Ramallah area based terror cell which planned to abduct Israeli civilians was made public, including details of attempted kidnappings: 

“During March 2012 the cell tried to abduct an Israeli several times:

  • The afternoon of March 11, 2012: Members of the cell attacked an Israeli driver on the road between the village of Rantis and Kiryat Sefer (northeast of Ramallah), near Beit Arieh. They blocked the car and tried to drag the driver out, but he escaped.
  • March 12, 2012: Members of the cell attacked an Israeli woman driving along the road to the village of Ma’ale Lavonah in southern Samaria. They blocked the car and used various blunt objects in an attempt to shatter the front windshield. The driver escaped in her car.
  • The night of March 15, 2012: Cell operatives attacked an Israeli woman driving with her infant daughter from Givat Assaf (north of Ramallah) to Beit El. They blocked the car and shattered the front windshield but fled when another Israeli vehicle approached.
  • During March the cell tried to abduct Israeli civilian hitchhikers from the gas station at the village of Mishor Adumim, east of Jerusalem. They stopped their car and one of the Israelis almost got in, but a friend prevented him.”

(source)

In addition, incidents of rock-throwing at Israeli vehicles continued throughout the month. 

As we saw in the previous review, the Guardian’s coverage of Israel goes out of its way to avoid any mention of the daily threats posed to Israeli civilians. Whilst Guardian readers world-wide may now be familiar with the TV drama ‘Hatufim’ the paper does not inform them about real-life attempts to kidnap Israelis. The same readers now know all about the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike, but little or nothing about the type of ongoing terror activities which lead to the arrests of Palestinians.  Whilst the subject of building in towns and villages beyond the ‘green line’ is covered, an attempt by an armed Palestinian to infiltrate one of those villages is ignored. 

Once again, the Israel-related news which Guardian editors elect to avoid telling their readers is no less significant than the stories they do choose to tell.  


What the Guardian won’t report and the influence on perceptions of Israel.

Foreign correspondents are in the position of being able to influence on a daily basis how others perceive the country in which they work. Not only do they shape that country’s image in the eyes of general foreign audiences, but their reporting also affects the attitudes and decisions of policy makers.  As political and governmental decisions are often – and perhaps increasingly – influenced by the amount of media attention a certain subject gets, a foreign correspondent’s decision to report or not to report a particular news story has more gravity than just the telling of the story itself. 

Taking the month now ending as a random example, analysis of the Guardian’s coverage of Israel on its dedicated page in the World News section shows that out of 60 items published between April 1st and 29th, seven dealt with the subject of Habima’s appearance at the Globe Theatre.

A further 11 items were published on the subject of Gunter Grass and his controversial poem. Nine items touched on the subject of Iran’s nuclear project, three were related to  Raed Salah’s immigration tribunal in the UK, five concerned the Danish ISM activist hit by an Israeli officer and a further five touched on aspects of what the Guardian Style Guide terms as settlements and settlers; Jews living over the ‘green line’. 

Other subjects tackled include the Israeli version of ‘Big Brother’, Saturday bus services, the gas pipeline from Egypt to Israel (2 articles), the ‘flytilla’ (2 articles), illegal migrants from Africa, Holocaust Memorial Day (3 items), Easter, and  hunger strikes by Palestinian prisoners (2 articles). 

On the Israel page of Comment is Free, seven articles were published during April – reflecting the same themes as above. 

Pessach, Memorial Day and Independence Day (all of which took place in April) were not covered, despite their importance to anyone hoping to understand Israel. 

Neither did the Guardian report on any of the following events: 

“On the morning of April 2 a 65 year-old ultra-Orthodox Jewish man was attacked by a young Arab man wielding an axe. The attack took place near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. The victim, who had been on his way to the Western Wall to pray, sustained minor injuries and was evacuated to a hospital for medical treatment.”

“On the evening of April 2 stones were thrown at a bus near Beit Horon, an Israeli village to the northwest of Jerusalem. Two women suffered minor injuries and were evacuated to a hospital for further treatment.”

(source)

“On the night of April 4 residents of Eilat heard explosions throughout the city. Searches conducted by the Israeli security forces discovered the remains of two 122mm Grad rockets, two of three launched at Eilat from the Sinai Peninsula. The rockets fell in open areas near residential structures. There were no casualties, but a number of residents were treated for shock.”

“On the morning of April 8 two long-range rockets landed near the city of Netivot. There were no casualties and no damage was done.”

“On the evening of April 8 a rocket landed in an open area near the city of Sderot. There were no casualties and no damage was done.”

(source)

“On the night of April 15 two rockets fell in open areas in the western Negev. There were no casualties.”

“On April 11, IDF military police detained a Palestinian at the Beqa’ot checkpoint in the Jordan Valley. He was found to be carrying seven improvised IEDs, three knives and bullets. He was transferred to the security forces for questioning.”

“The Egyptian and Palestinian media reported that the Egyptian security forces had stopped a vehicle in the northern Sinai Peninsula driven by an Egyptian and carrying three Palestinians who had illegally entered Egyptian territory on April 13. The three admitted that they had been en route to Libya to buy weapons to smuggle into the Gaza Strip through the tunnels. The interrogation conducted by the Egyptian security forces in El-Arish revealed that the three were residents of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip and belonged to the Salah al-Din Brigades, the military-terrorist wing of the Popular Resistance Committees.” 

(source)

“Rocket fire from the Gaza Strip targeting the western Negev continues. One rocket hit was identified in an open area. There were no casualties and no damage was done.”

“On April 19 in Jerusalem a 20 year-old yeshiva student was stabbed in the stomach, incurring serious wounds. Two young Arab men were detained as suspects. The initial investigation revealed that the motive for the attack was apparently nationalistic.”

“On April 21 Israel border policemen saw two Palestinians about 17 years old alighting from a taxi at the Tapuach junction (south of Nablus), carrying a suspicious-looking bag. The policemen ordered them to halt but the two turned and ran. The youths, both residents of the Balata refugee camp near Nablus, were found to be carrying four IEDs, a gun and ammunition.”

The IEDs and weapons found in the possession of the two Palestinians (Israel Border Police Media Office, April 21, 2012)

The IEDs and weapons found in the possession of the two Palestinians

(Israel Border Police Media Office, April 21, 2012)

“There has recently been a rise in the number of stones and Molotov cocktails thrown at Israeli vehicles south of Jerusalem in the Gush Etzion district; on April 19 there were five such attacks. In one instance Palestinian youths threw stones and rocks at an Israel car at the Gush Etzion junction. One of the rocks hit the car and shattered the front windshield. Riding in the car were a couple and their two-year old son.”

(source)

“The Mount of Olives in Eastern Jerusalem was the scene of an attack on Sunday night [April 15th], as 7 molotov cocktails or “firebombs” were hurled at Jewish homes in the neighborhood of Maale HaZeitim.”

(source)

“Three separate attacks in Jerusalem Thursday, [April 26th] left 4 people injured.

A Jewish family was assaulted by Arab teenagers in eastern Jerusalem, leaving three of the family members injured and in need of medical treatment.

In the Old City of Jerusalem, an 11 year old boy was injured when Arabs began throwing rocks near Israeli Jews in the area.  The boy was hit in the head and also received medical help following the incident.

The last attack to occur happened late Thursday night when an Orthodox man was attacked by two Arab youths, who fled the scene on foot before causing any physical harm. Police have arrested a suspect in the case and are reportedly looking for another.”

(source)

“An Israeli cab driver heading from Tel Aviv to Kfar Saba – a 14.5 mile trip – was stabbed several times overnight by an Arab man described by police as being in the country illegally.”

(source)

It is expensive to keep a permanent correspondent in a foreign country and that expense might well be queried if its only outcome is to produce multiple versions of the same carefully selected items in order to cultivate a tailored view of the country covered. 

But the stories untold are just as relevant as the ones which do get published. It is, for example, much easier for both British politicians and members of the general public to voice criticism of Israel’s checkpoints and security barrier as impediments to free movement if neither they nor the people listening to them know anything about attempts to smuggle IEDs, guns and knives intended to kill civilians through those checkpoints. 

The Guardian’s placing of a total black-out on the reporting of rocket fire into Israel from Gaza (unless Israel reacts), ‘cold weapon’ terror attacks on Israeli civilians and attempted armed infiltrations into Israel from Palestinian Authority-controlled areas is an additional method of influencing foreign perceptions of Israel which should not be underestimated. 

Jenin. Ten Years Since Something That Never Happened: A Learning Moment for the Guardian

[While I read the Guardian everyday now, I wasn’t so “privileged” back during the Palestinian wave of terror known as the Second Intifada. While I did know that the Guardian made a morally incomprehensible comparison between Jenin (Israel’s Operation Defensive Shield) and 9/11, I didn’t realize that they never published an apology, even after the narrative of “Jenin Massacre” was definitively disproven. This essay at Harry’s Place, (which they submitted to, and was rejected by, editors at Comment is Free), thoroughly fisking the Guardian’s coverage of the battle of Jenin, is simply required reading for anyone wishing to understand their institutional anti—Israel journalistic malice   — AL]

For two full weeks in April of 2002, the Guardian ran wild with lurid tales of an Israeli massacre in the Palestinian city of Jenin on the West Bank — a massacre that never happened.  The misrepresentations and outright fabrications have never been properly addressed in the ten ensuing years, as though the Guardian’s editors believe nothing more than some hasty reporting and bad sourcing happened.  But the reportorial failings were far too systematic to be so dismissed, and until the Guardian conducts a thorough investigation of its own errors and publishes a detailed account to its readers, its integrity on Israel-Palestine will continue to be called into question.

First the facts: On the heels of a thirty-day Palestinian suicide bombing campaign in Israeli cities which included thirteen deadly attacks (imagine thirteen 7/7’s in one month), Israel embarked on a military offensive in the West Bank.  The fiercest fighting in this offensive occurred in the refugee camp just outside the West Bank town of Jenin, the launching point for 30 Palestinian suicide bombers in the year and half previous (seven were caught before they could blow themselves up; the other 23 succeeded in carrying out their attacks).  In this battle, which lasted less than a week, 23 Israeli soldiers were killed as well as 52 Palestinians, of whom at most 14 were civilians (there is some marginal dispute about that last figure).

There was nothing extraordinary in this battle or in these numbers.  Looking back, what is extraordinary is that Ariel Sharon’s Israel sat through 18 months of Palestinian suicide terror before embarking on even this military offensive.  Seamus Milne assured readers on April 10 of the ‘futility’ of this military response, though with the benefit of hindsight we can clearly see this battle as the turning point in the struggle to end suicide terror on Israel’s streets.  Milne referred to ‘hundreds’ killed, ‘evidence of atrocities,’ and ‘state terror.’  Not to be outdone, Suzanne Goldenberg reported from Jenin’s ‘lunar landscape’ of ‘a silent wasteland, permeated with the stench of rotting corpses and cordite.’  She found ‘convincing accounts’ of summary executions, though let’s be honest and concede that it’s not generally difficult to convinceGoldenberg of Israeli villainy.  In the next day’s report from Jenin, a frustrated Goldenberg reported that the morgue in Jenin had ‘just 16 bodies’ after ‘only two bodies [were] plucked from the wreckage.’  This didn’t cause her to doubt for a moment that there were hundreds more buried beneath or to hesitate in reporting from a Palestinian source that bodies may have been transported ‘to a special zone in Israel.’  Brian Whitaker and Chris McGreal weighed in with their own equally tendentious and equally flawed reporting the following week.

Read the rest of the essay here.

Israel fires back at Harriet Sherwood over allegations that Palestinian kids were mistreated

On Jan. 22, the Guardian published Harriet Sherwood’s report, Palestinian children – alone and bewildered in Israel’s Al-Jalame Jail, which included accusations that Israel mistreats Palestinian teens charged with acts of violence, allegations largely based on information provided by one radical, anti-Zionist NGO.

Specifically, Sherwood charged that a substantial percentage of Palestinian children arrested by Israeli soldiers (for acts of violence) have been mistreated while in custody – which, it was claimed, includes physical abuse and long stays of solitary confinement. 

In an over 2700 word long report only 230 were devoted to presenting the Israeli side of the story, and even those few passages curiously omitted the following emphatic denial by Israeli Security officials (which was provided to the Guardian prior to publication):

“The claims that Palestinian minors were subject to interrogation techniques that include beatings, prolonged periods in handcuffs, threats, kicks, verbal abuse, humiliation, isolation and prevention of sleep are utterly baseless.”

As HonestReporting noted, Sherwood also severely downplayed the offences Palestinian teens are charged with, which include:

[The recruitment by terrorist organizations…involvement in suicide bomb attacks, Molotov cocktail throwing, stone throwing and stabbing, grenade throwing, the use of explosives, shooting, car bombs, transfer of weapons, kidnapping, rocket launching, as well as assault and murder.

Today, eleven days following Sherwood’s smear against Israel, ‘Comment is Free’ provided Amir Ofek, press attache for the Embassy of Israel in London, the chance to respond.

Ofek, consistent with the information made available to Sherwood prior to publishing her story, strongly refuted allegations that the torture and humiliation of Palestinian suspects was permitted, and categorically denied that “solitary confinement in order to induce a confession” is employed – all of which, Ofek argued, severely undermines the veracity of the Guardian report.

Moreover, while Sherwood provided meager space for the Israeli side of the story in her original report, she didn’t see fit to include any information on the severity of the crimes Palestinian teens were arrested for, choosing instead to focus on the “emotional scars” inflicted upon those in custody. 

As Ofek noted about the horrific nature of the atrocities that minors, some as young as 12, can be arrested for:

Hakim Awad, 17, is a minor. Last March he and his 18-year-old cousin, Amjad, brutally murdered the Fogel family while they slept. No mercy was shown to three-month-old Hadas, her two brothers (aged four and 11) and their parents. The scene of the crime, including the severed head of a toddler, left even the most experienced of police officers devastated. The duo proudly confessed to their killings, and they have shown no subsequent remorse.

Ofek added:

Between 2000-04, 292 minors took part in terrorist activities…Ismail Tsabaj, 12, Azi Mostafa, 13, and Yousuf Basam, 14, were sent by Hamas on a mission chillingly similar to the one involving the Fogels, aiming to penetrate a Jewish home at night and slaughter a family in their beds. In this case, the IDF fortunately stopped them in time.

Ofek further noted that Sherwood’s dismissive claim that “most [Palestinian children arrested] are accused of throwing stones at soldiers or settlers”, shows a “bewildering disregard for the damage that throwing stones…can cause”, before adding:

“Judah Shoham never reached the age of many of these minors, as he was killed by Palestinians throwing stones, aged just five months. Similarly, Jonathan Palmer never reached his second birthday; he was killed with his father [Asher] when stones were hurled at their car last October.”

Indeed, most tellingly, while Sherwood’s report not only named the Palestinian teens who alleged Israeli mistreatment (and even included an eleven minute video of the teens telling their story), a search of the Guardian’s website didn’t turn up even one mention of the Israelis – Jonathan (Yonatan) Palmer and his father, Asher – murdered by Palestinian teen “rock throwers” who Ofek referred to.  

The only mention of the deadly act of terrorism by Palestinian teens at all was a throw-away passage buried in a story about a mosque vandalized in Northern Israel, on Oct. 3., and a supremely callous characterization by Harriet Sherwood in a story titled “Israel approves new settler homes in East Jerusalem“, which referred to the victims in passing as a “Jewish settler and his son.” [emphasis added]

Wrote Sherwood of the Palestinian teens arrested by Israeli soldiers in her Jan 22 report:

“Following detention many children exhibit symptoms of trauma: nightmares, mistrust of others, fear of the future, feelings of helplessness and worthlessness, obsessive compulsive behaviour, bed-wetting, aggression, withdrawal and lack of motivation.”

As Sherwood continually demonstrates, the “trauma” suffered by family and friends mourning the loss of Israeli victims of terror (such as Asher and Yonatan Palmer) is simply not part of the narrative. 

Palestinian teens profiled in Sherwood's report

Not seen in the Guardian: Asher Hillel Palmer, 25, and his one-year-old son Yonatan, victims of terror committed by Palestinian teens


Guardian Travel publishes article by Sarah Irving, former ISM activist

It’s getting near that time of year when people in the UK, fed up of their dank, grey winter, begin flicking through holiday brochures and the travel supplements in their weekend newspapers, dreaming of a warm and exciting destination for their summer break.

Sarah Irving - Former ISM activist

As may be expected, the Guardian’s travel section also contains articles on a variety of tempting destinations. Las Vegas, Spain, Turkey and the Red Sea to to name but a few, and this week there’s also an article by the author of the newly published Bradt Guide to Palestine, Sarah Irving, on its top 10 attractions.

The vast majority of readers of the article will of course be unfamiliar with the region and may therefore not pick up onIrving’s distinctly partisan style or the inaccuracies in her article and, one can only assume, her book.

Already in her introduction,Irving makes much of potential travel difficulties visited on the unsuspecting voyager by the Israeli authorities. Of course she makes no mention of why inconveniences such as checkpoints or airport security checks may be necessary in order to protect the lives of tourists just as much as Israelis.

Irving then proceeds to give her recommendations for places to visit. Sebastia becomes a site of Hellenic watchtowers, ruined Samaritan palaces and crumbling Byzantine churches” along with “Islamic shrines”: no mention of the history before the relatively late naming of the town Sebastia after Augustus Caesar, which includes the archeological excavations of the royal citadel and kings of Israel, including Ahab, between 880 and 721 BCE.

Next, Irving moves on to the Dome of the Rock which, despite this being a guide to Palestine, is of course situated in Israel. The only clue the reader might get about that fact is her claim that the site is “[u]sually closed for Islamic holidays, Jewish holidays, Fri/Sat (except Muslim worshippers), and whenever the Israeli authorities consider there to be a security risk.”  Ah, those unpredictable and hysterical Israelis again!

Northwards to Jenin and Irving cannot resist yet another context-free remark: “this bustling town, sadly better known for the Israeli army’s massive 2002 attack on the refugee camp.” Of course one does have to admit that Jenin’s other title as terror capital of the Palestinian Territories is somewhat less likely to draw in the crowds.

Next Irving manages to turn Abraham, after whom a hiking trail is named, into “the Prophet Abraham”, and to skip meticulously over any Jewish history in Taibeh or Jericholiable to distract the reader, before arriving in Hevron. The tomb of Abraham and the other patriarchs at Machpela is not recommended to visitors – presumably because that would not fit into the narrative – but she does manage the by now obligatory mention of wicked Israelis. “Many [shops] have closed, shut by Israeli military order to protect the settlers who have occupied parts of the city, or because the settler threat makes business unviable.”  In fact, rather than having ‘occupied’ it, the Jews living in Hevron do so under the terms of the Oslo Accords signed by the representatives of the Palestinian people.

Irving’s attention turns next to Acco – or as she for some reason calls it ‘Akka’. Acco is of course situated in Israel, but Irving gets round this by informing her readers that “The new Bradt guide also covers areas of Israel that are home to large numbers of Palestinians and where their culture survives. The Arabs living in Acco are Israeli Arabs – who chose not to leave Israel during the War of Independence in 1948.

It is clear that far from being a ‘travel guide’, Irving’s book is actually a political polemic.

Why Bradt should have selected such an obviously biased author to write a guide which appears to attempt to erase Jewish history from Judea and Samaria (unless in the form of context-free references to contemporary security issues) is a mystery.

A quick Google search would have shown Bradt’s editors that Sarah Irving has a very rich history of her own.

In 2002 she visited the Palestinian territories as a member of the International Solidarity Movement. She writes forElectronic Intifada‘  (among others) and also maintains her own fiercely anti-Israel blog. She has co-written a book (promoted by the ISM) about Operation Cast Lead which she describes as “the massive Israeli invasion in December 2008 and January 2009, when 1,400 people were killed, mainly children and other civilians.”

As is well known, Hamas itself has admitted that over half the casualties were members of its own terrorist organization which had fired rockets at Israeli civilians for years before the Israeli military operation.

Currently Irving is writing a biography of the hijacker and terrorist Leila Khaled, also to be published by the same Pluto Press which includes Gilad Atzmon in its stable of reviewers, and runs a blog dedicated to Leila Khaled. 

Irving’s ‘understanding’ and ‘expertise’ on the Middle Eastis summed up here in her own wors:

“On a wider political scale, it’s impossible to disconnect the West’s support for Israel and our governments’ apparent blindness to Israeli human rights abuses and also to the massive theft of land for settlements, the discrimination meted out to Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and Palestinian citizens of Israel, from issues like control of the Middle East and its oil, racism and anti-Islamism, and global hatred and hostility which feed religious fundamentalism – Christian and Jewish as well as Islamic.”

Obviously, this article byIrving calls into question the reliability of this particular Bradt travel guide as far as genuine tourists are concerned but it also prompts one to wonder if their previous publications also cater exclusively to the terror-chic market.

That the Guardian’s travel editor apparently saw nothing unprofessional in publishing an article and promoting so blatantly faulted a book by a terrorist-supporting writer indicates that readers need to regard its travel recommendations with considerable caution.

(h/t Infinity)

Guardian anti-Israel propaganda photo of the day (Palestinian children edition)

H/T Margie

When it comes to reports about Israel at the Guardian, their inventory of misleading anti-Israel images are clearly quite abundant.

Indeed, the Guardian received an Honest Reporting “2010 Dishonest Reporting Award due to this memorable photo, and accompanying headline:

Eyewitness: Palestinian youth run down

In addition to the curious fact, noted by HR, that the camermen (among others) just happened to be “in the right place at the right time”, the fact that an innocent Israeli motorist was trying desperately to avoid harm, from a pre-planned ambush by seven rock throwing Palestinians, evidently wasn’t a compelling enough narrative.

For the Guardian, such messy details can never get in the way of tales of Israeli villainy, especially those involving the infliction of harm upon Palestinian children.

A Guardian report by Chris McGreal, UN vote on Palestinian state put off amid lack of support“, Nov. 11, included the following photo:

I must admit, the propaganda value is simply off the charts: Israeli soldiers juxtaposed with an innocent Palestinian boy holding a sign with an image of Mahmoud Abbas, which included text asking, in Dickensian fashion, “Please sir, I want a state”.

Of course, my guess is that the Palestinian Authority rejected text, to accompany the graphic, of Abbas’s quote from a recent speech, reported by the PA news agency, accusing settlers of releasing trained wild hogs to attack Palestinian Arabs.

And, they likely similarly rejected one of the many Abbas quotes insisting that he will never recognize a Jewish state;  his praise for Hamas’s kidnapping of Gilad Shalit and support for armed “resistance”, or his administration’s refusal to allow Palestinian refugees to settle in, and become citizens of, a new Palestinian state.

It’s likely that the PA rejected the following, which more accurately reflects the politics of a “President” now in the sixth year of a four year term.

The faux Zionist history of Ilan Pappé

A guest post by Dexter Van Zile 

Ali Abunimah, Ilan Pappe, and Sophia Deeg

By now, it’s reasonable to conclude that famed revisionist historian Ilan Pappé has transgressed the sacred ground between quotation marks by inventing a quote and attributing it to Israel’s first prime minister David Ben-Gurion. It’s also reasonable to conclude that his publisher, Oneworld Publications and his colleagues at the University of Exeter will fail to hold him account for his actions.

The quote in question appeared in an article Pappé wrote for the Autumn 2006 issue of the Journal of Palestine Studies and in his book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Oneworld Publications) that came out a few weeks later. In these texts, Pappé reported that in a 1937 letter to his son, Ben-Gurion declared:

“The Arabs will have to go, but one needs an opportune moment for making it happen, such as war.”

Historian Benny Morris declared that the quote was an invention in December 2006. He did not challenge Pappé directly, but journalist Johan Hari used the quote to assail Israel in a commentary that appeared in The Independent soon after it appeared in print twice under Pappé’s name.

In declaring the quote an invention, Morris was on solid ground. The quote does not appear in any of the references that Pappé cited for it. In Ethnic Cleansing, Pappé cites the July 12, 1937 entry in Ben-Gurion’s journal and page 220 of the August-September issue of New Judea, a newsletter published by the World Zionist Organization. The quote appears nowhere in these texts, nor does it appear in the source he references in the article appearing in the Journal of Palestine Studies, a book by Charles D. Smith.

Morris’ statement that the quote attributed to Ben-Gurion was an “invention” should have prompted Pappé to either provide an accurate, verifiable source for the quote or to issue a retraction to prevent others from using it. Instead, the quote lingered on – without correction or retraction – in the fever swamp of anti-Zionist commentary.

It eventually made its way into With God on Our Side, an anti-Israel documentary produced by Porter Speakman, Jr. in 2010. (One of the main commentators in this movie is Rev. Stephen Sizer. Sizer is well known to readers of CIF Watch, Harry’s Place, Seismic Shock and to fans of his appearances on Iranian state television.)

To his credit, Speakman was the first person to issue a correction regarding the quote. After challenges from CAMERA, Speakman acknowledged that the quote in question did not appear in the original sources that Pappé cited and stated it would not appear in future editions of the movie 

It took a few months for Speakman to finally respond to a factual challenge, but he did the right thing. And to its credit, the Journal of Palestine Studies is taking a closer look at Pappé’s 2006 article, but is apparently having a tough time getting a hold of the historian himself.

This is no surprise. Pappé has ignored repeated inquires from CAMERA about the quote.

Pappé’s silence on this matter is inexcusable.

Six years on, it’s time for an accounting.

Pappé needs to admit the quote is a fake, or pull a rabbit out of a hat and provide an actual, verifiable source for the statement he attributed to David Ben-Gurion.

The space between quotation marks is sacred ground and needs to be treated as such.

If Pappé does not come clean, his colleagues at the University of Exeter need to challenge him to do, as do his publishers at Oneworld Publications, which needs to expunge this quote from its text.

To fail to do so would indicate the publishing house seeks to profit from a fabrication.

Dexter Van Zile is a researcher at the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).

Guardian’s Chris McGreal accuses former US President of “slavishly” succumbing to pro-Israel pressure

We previously commented (here,here), as did CST, on an appalling Comment is Free piece by John Whitbeck, On Palestine, the US is a rogue state, Dec. 29, 2010, which represented another appalling example of the Guardian’s sanctioning of commentators who openly call for Israel’s demise.  

Whitbeck, we noted, prior to his CiF piece, in an essay for CounterPunch in 2009, had characterized Zionism as a “racial supremacist settle colonial experiment” inconsistent with “human decency”.

Whitbeck’s CiF piece, however, went beyond mere anti-Zionism and advanced the classic antisemitic narrative of a dangerously powerful American Jewish community controlling the reigns of government.

Specifically, Whitbeck characterized the U.S. as submitting to a slave-like (“slavish”) subservience” to Israel. 

Sometime after Whitbeck’s vitriol was published, the CST’s Mark Gardner wrote to the Guardian’s Readers’ Editor, and asked the following:

“Can you please explain to me how this notion that the USA is subservient / slavishly subservient to Israel is any different in its rationale to the old antisemitic myth about Jews running the world through domination of politicians, finance and media?

In response to Gardner’s exchange with the Guardian’s Readers’ Editor, the word “slavish” was removed from “slavish subservience to Israel”.

The new piece is here and carries this at its end:

“This article was amended on 17 January 2011. Language that is inconsistent with the Guardian’s editorial policy has been removed.”

Chris McGreal’s latest piece in the Guardian, “Barack Obama caught between Israel and his Palestinian promise“, Sept. 16, similarly propagates tropes about the injurious effects of Jewish power on U.S. foreign policy, and used the very language which the Guardian, back in January, acknowledged was inconsistent with their editorial standards.

Wrote McGreal:

Obama followed that up by telling American Jewish leaders that he would put some “daylight” between the US and Israel after eight years of George Bush slavishly refusing to pressure the Jewish state to move toward ending the occupation. [emphasis mine]

Not that the meaning of the word in question is in any way obscure, it still should be noted that McGreal is in effect saying that the President of United States’ relationship with Israel (and/or the organized, pro-Israel, American Jewish community) was similar to that of a slave to his master.  

McGreal’s piece is also filled with grossly misleading and simply dishonest passages meant to buttress his broader narrative of Israeli villainy, such as when he opined:

Barack Obama has good reason to ask what the present Israeli government has ever done for him.

When the White House asked it to halt construction of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories to give peace talks a chance, the building went on.

Really, is it even possible that, while writing this, McGreal was truly not aware of the 10 month moratorium on settlement construction in the West Bank, which Netanyahu agreed to after pressure from President Obama to engage in a good faith effort to restart the peace talks – an act which still didn’t bring Mahmoud Abbas back to the negotiating table?

Further, McGreal’s polemic also included the implicit specter of the corrosive effects of pro-Israel lobby on the U.S. Senate.

The pro-Israel lobby has sought to ensure that Congressional support remains solid by sending 81 members of the House of Representatives on an all-expenses-paid trip to the Jewish state this summer to “gather information”.

But, beyond the specifics of McGreal’s attack on Israel and her Jewish supporters, and his rhetoric about America’s slave-like behavior towards Jews or the Jewish state, the broader problem still remains – that the Guardian Left continues to advance narratives about the injurious effects of organized Jews which is almost indistinguishable from that of the far right.

In 1990, the most well-know U.S. paleoconservative, Pat Buchanan, was widely criticized by the mainstream media and major American Jewish organizations when he referred to Capitol Hill as “Israeli occupied territory”.  The Anti-Defamation League challenged Buchanan’s remarks as “reminiscent of scurrilous charges made during WWII” questioning the loyalty of American Jews.  The liberal New York Times columnist A.M. Rosenthal wrote, “we are not dealing with country club antisemitism” but with the “libel that Jews are not like us…but are others with alien loyalties.”

One of the most disturbing political changes since that time, however, is that such historical calumnies about the corrosive effects of Jews on the body politic – once strictly within the domain of the far right – have become more fashionable within large segments of the left.

Of course, it is not bigoted to simply note that organized Jewry is often politically effective at advancing their interests.  But where it crosses the line into antisemitism is when pro-Israel American Jews (legally exercising their democratic rights) are characterized as a dangerously powerful group whose influence on the U.S. political system is uniquely pernicious or corrupting, and distorts U.S. foreign policy.

McGreal’s rhetoric crosses the line by leaps and bounds and, yet, represents a Judeophobic narrative not all unique among Guardian journalists and commentators.

The insidious narrative that organized American Jewry and, often, the Jewish state, is powerful enough to prevent the President of the most powerful nation on the earth from carrying out policies in the Middle East which would lead to peace represents something approaching conventional wisdom within modern Guardian Left thought.    

Genuine progressives would, it seems, run screaming from even the hint of a suggestion that Jews are controlling the world through domination of politicians, and immediately disassociate themselves from such views – which clearly speaks volumes about how far the Guardian has strayed from anything even resembling principled liberal thought. 

Guardian report legitimizes mob attack on Israeli embassy in Egypt, which forced frantic evacuation of embassy staff

The facts of what occurred in Cairo today are not in dispute.  The Israeli ambassador to Egypt, his family, staff, and their families, were frantically evacuated by the Egyptian military after a large mob, numbering in the thousands, stormed the embassy in an attempt to tear down the compound’s security wall and break into the building.

After demonstrators penetrated the tower block housing the mission, some of the six-member staff on overnight security detail reportedly phoned Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to explain that they feared for their lives and asked him to pass farewells to their families.

After appeals by Netanyahu to Cairo’s interim military rulers and the Obama administration, Egyptian security forces extracted the guards before dawn. Another Netanyahu aide said the Israelis’ heads were covered to throw off the crowds.

Israel had earlier sent a military plane to evacuate its ambassador, Yitzhak Levanon, and about 80 staff and families. A second aircraft brought the six guards “safe and sound” to Israel, Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

However, the manner in which the Guardian covered the  incident speaks volumes about their seeming inability to frame any violence perpetrated against Israelis as anything other than an understandable response to Israeli villainy.

Their report, Israel evacuates ambassador to Egypt after embassy attack, David Batty, Guardian, Sept. 10 contextualized the violence by describing, as the source of mob anger, the six Egyptian security personnel killed in the crossfire which occurred as Israeli forces pursued the gunmen involved in the Aug. 18th terrorist attack near Eilat.

Batty failed to note that eight Israelis, including six civilians, were killed (and 40 injured) in the series of coordinated attacks launched from Gaza via the Sinai Peninsula.

Indeed, reports by both the IDF and the Egyptian army following the incident suggest that the IDF did everything in its power to prevent Egyptian troops from getting hurt during their pursuit of the terrorists. The IDF also found that at least three of the terrorists were Egyptian citizens.

The evidence also shows that contrary to Egyptian media reports, the IDF’s attack helicopters avoided hitting Egyptian military vehicles and troops stationed at the border, and that the troops intentionally diverted fire from the Egyptian all-terrain vehicles and soldiers towards open areas near the border base, from which the terrorist sniper fire originated.

The terrorists had positioned themselves a few dozen meters from the Egyptian military post before launching an RPG rocket at one of the helicopters, and directed machine gun fire at it.

The terrorists were also wearing uniforms similar to those of the Egyptian army.

Israel is reported to have photographic evidence that Maj.Gen. Tal Russo personally ordered the forces fighting on the ground and in the air to be careful not to hit the Egyptian military post and its soldiers.

Yet, the Egyptian press reported the deaths of Egyptian security officials without any context. Indeed, to the degree that the Egyptian media did cover the attacks on Israelis near Eilat, they were (as in the wider Arabic press) almost unanimous in justifying the attack – a moral justification also echoed by CiF contributor, Abdel al-Bari Atwan).

The Guardian’s report in some ways parroted the narrative of the Arab media – downplaying the original terrorist attack in Eilat which sparked the violence, and suggesting that the mob of Egyptians which threatened the lives of dozens of Israelis (and their families) stationed at the Embassy was merely a reaction to the Egyptian security personnel accidentally killed by IDF forces.

Writes Batty:

“The incident was the second major eruption of violence at the embassy since five Egyptian border guards were killed last month during an Israeli operation against gunmen.”

Note how, in typical Guardian speak, the “violence” simply “erupted”, rather than being perpetrated by individual Egyptians, possessing moral agency and acting violently out of their own volition.

And, note how Israel’s response to the series of brutal terrorist attacks on Aug. 18 near Eilat is characterized as an “Israeli operation against gunmen.”

Batty, providing even more legitimacy to the attack on Israel’s embassy, uncritically quotes Egyptian political analyst Nabil Abdel Fattah, who said:

“This action shows the state of anger and frustration the young Egyptian revolutionaries feel against Israel especially after the recent Israeli attacks on the Egyptian borders that led to the killing of Egyptian soldiers.”

So, now Israel’s battle with terrorists who killed innocent Israelis – including one RPG attack on a civilian vehicle which killed four Israelis, including two small children – is an “Israeli attack on the Egyptian borders.”

But, beyond the particulars of the terrorist attacks in Eilat, Batty’s report is classic Guardian – sparing no possible polemical obfuscation in the service of preventing the reader from reaching the most obvious conclusions about attack on Israel’s embassy: That a violent mob of thousands of angry Egyptians – who possess a hatred for Israel clearly nurtured by a culture imbued with antisemitism – attempted to destroy the Israeli embassy and would have, certainly, if the staff wasn’t evacuated, attacked the Israelis inside.

The following Sky News video of the attack includes a narrative which is also inexplicably sympathetic to the mob, but its worth viewing nonetheless. Listen to the Egyptian interviewed at the 2 minute mark, who nonchalantly tells the interviewer that those Israelis “killing his sisters and brothers” all must die.

The notion that the accidental killing of several Egyptian military personnel by the IDF somehow justifies attacking Israel’s diplomatic mission – or, at least makes the assault understandable – is simply surreal.

To put such a narrative in perspective, let’s jump back to the 9/11 attacks.

Following the attacks against the U.S. on 9/11, which left 3000 Americans dead, it was soon widely reported that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi Arabian citizens.

If, let’s say, a mob of thousands of angry Americans, in the days after 9/11, stormed the Saudi embassy in Washington, DC and threatened Saudi diplomatic staff, do we really even have to wonder how the MSM, let alone the Guardian, would have covered the story? Is there any question that the theme most employed in reports and editorials about the event would have been of indefensible “mob violence”, “racism”, and/or American “vengeance” and “brutality”?

Well, such words accurately reflect the shameful attack on Israel’s embassy by an angry mob today in Cairo.  

Today was dark day for Egypt.  However, the proper moral lessons will not be learned by the nation’s political leaders, nor will there be any serious soul searching by its citizens, as the Egyptian press – as with the Guardian and, likely, most of the MSM – will continue to refrain from asking the important questions they would have certainly asked if the attack had occurred in a Western country against the embassy of a non-Western one.

No, this story by David Batty isn’t by any means the most egregious example of Guardian bias against Israel, but certainly serves as additional evidence that, to the Guardian, being an Israeli means you are presumed guilty, even if proven innocent.

The lies of Tony Kushner (Guardian continues to run interference for the anti-Israel martyr)

If the debate within the mainstream media over Tony Kushner’s honorary degree at CUNY was informed by facts, and even the most rudimentary journalistic research, his ongoing obfuscation regarding his well-documented history of animosity towards the very existence of Israel would have been exposed and the Guardian’s current cause celebre would be shamed accordingly.

While CUNY recently decided to go ahead and award the degree to Kushner, The Guardian has published no less than eight separate pieces on the row, the latest of which, by Amy Goodman, writing in CiF, (Tony Kushner: an angel in America), quotes the playwright as telling her that,

“the full extent of the things that I’ve said about the state of Israel that would in fact make it clear to the board that I am in no way an enemy of the state of Israel, that I am, in fact, a vocal and ardent supporter of the state of Israel.” [emphasis mine]

As I noted in a previous post, Kushner’s current claims are undeniably contradicted by his past statements, none of which, as far as I can tell, he ever retracted – and all of which Amy Goodman, if she any interest in attempting to corroborate his assertions, could have easily obtained.

They include several comments, in writings and in interviews, where Kushner clearly, and without qualification, expressed his view that Israel should never have come into existence and has made it clear that he is “not a Zionist” – suggesting that he doesn’t support the existence of a sovereign Jewish state within any borders.  

He also has leveled quite vicious invectives against the Jewish state and her supporters: accusing Israel of committing acts of “ethnic cleansing”, “savagery” and “barbarism”, and characterizing Jewish Zionists as being among “the most repulsive members of the Jewish community.”

While I’m under no illusions regarding the Guardian’s capacity to report on any story in which Israel or her supporters can be defamed with anything approaching fairness or decency, I would hope that there are still those in the mainstream media who value objectivity and journalistic integrity and will consider holding Kushner accountable for his continuing misrepresentation regarding his quite prolific anti-Zionist record.

More rockets fired by Palestinian terrorists into Israeli communities (Guardian still largely reporting on Israeli retaliatory strikes)

Two rockets exploded in Beersheba on Wednesday morning, and ten mortar shells fell in Shaar Hanegev and Eshkol Regional Councils, injuring one Israeli, adding to the more than 50 mortars and rockets fired into Israel over the weekend, and bringing the total number of projectiles launched from Gaza since Friday to 71 – by Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Yet, the Guardian continues to largely ignore the Palestinian escalation, and indeed saw fit to publish two stories on Israel’s retaliation and resulting casualties: Yesterday, they posted, Eight killed on Israeli strikes on Gaza”, and “Israeli air strikes wound 19 in Gaza” was reported on Monday.”

Most telling was this line from Monday’s report:

“Hamas has stepped up rocket fire at Israel after a lengthy hiatus since the war of two years ago…”

Except that there has been no hiatus.

While the quantity was reduced dramatically since Cast Lead, there were still over 100 rockets fired into Israel in 2009 (following the conclusion of the war in January) and more than 100 in 2010.  So far in 2011, 156 projectiles (rockets or mortars) were fired into Israel from Gaza.

What country in the world would consider over 100 rockets fired into their country in three consecutive years to be a “hiatus”?

In nearly 250 news stories on the Guardian’s Israel page so far in 2011,only one led with a headline about Hamas rocket fire (See update below).

As I’ve noted elsewhere, the Guardian’s Palestinians (not the real ones, but merely the abstraction in their political imagination) are always weak, passive and acted upon (the bigotry of low expectations), while their mythical Israelis inversely are malevolent and powerful, and the only political players in their drama who are assigned moral agency (the bigotry of exceedingly high expectations).

Such egregious double standards continue to represent one of the more defining features of the Guardian Left.

(Update after initial posting: The Guardian, for the first time this year, actually did publish a story today which which accurately reported the fact that Israeli communities in the south have been on the receiving end of a barrage of rockets from Gaza, and contained a headline without a qualifier to contort the causality.  The story, “Gaza militants’ rockets strike cities deep into Israel“, did add the erroneous claim that such rocket fire largely ceased since the end of Cast Lead, but did at least accurately report the sequence of events, and should be noted.)