Guardian likens Hamas rockets to “useless fireworks”

The Guardian, in an official editorial on the war in Gaza, argued the following:

In all the years they have been swooping over the border like useless fireworks, the primitive rockets that Hamas fires at Israel have killed hardly anybody. They scare people, close supermarkets, disrupt business and increase insurance premiums.

They’re of course referring to the more than 15,000 deadly projectiles fired from Gaza since 2001.

Here is the arsenal of “primitive rockets” the Guardian is referring to:

SIN03_ISRAEL-GAZA-ROCKETS-T_0306_11

Here’s a glimpse into the effects of the “useless” fireworks” “swooping over the border” to the southern Israeli city of Sderot:

 

Contrary to Guardian claims (that “hardly anybody” has been killed by these “useless fireworks”), at least 20 Israelis have been killed in Gaza rocket attacks since 2001, and 15 have been killed in Gaza mortar attacks. (sources: here, here, here, here, here, and here). Over a thousand Israelis have been injured in such attacks.

Finally, every Gaza rocket (all 15,000) of course has the capacity to kill an Israeli man, woman or child, and all represent an attempt to do just that.

Describing such deadly instruments of war as “useless fireworks” (which have killed ‘hardly anyone’) is simply untrue, and grossly insensitive to Israeli victims. 

CiF Watch prompts Indy correction to false claim by Mira Bar-Hillel

We recently posted about an op-ed by Mira Bar-Hillel (a Jewish commentator who has acknowledged being antisemitic) which erroneously suggested that the Israeli media demanded the IDF bomb Gaza “back to the Stone Age” (see here), and accused Israelis of believing that “Palestinians aren’t quite human”.  

As we pointed out, she also made a patently false claim concerning the 2012 Gaza War.

Here’s the relevant passage:

Over the past decade we have had “Operation Cast Lead” (2008/9) in which illegal white phosphorus was employed, 1,400 Gazan civilians were killed including one family whose children bled to death on the roof because Israeli aircraft prevented their evacuation. The Israelis lost 11 soldiers. In “Operation Pillar of Smoke”, (2012) hundreds more died, all Palestinian.

Of course, her claim that ALL of those who died during the war (Operation Pillar of Defense) were Palestinian is not true. Four Israeli civilians and two soldiers were killed in that war.

After contacting Indy editors, they agreed to revise the passage accordingly.

It now reads:

Over the past decade we have had “Operation Cast Lead” (2008/9) in which illegal white phosphorus was employed, 1,400 Gazan civilians were killed including one family whose children bled to death on the roof because Israeli aircraft prevented their evacuation. The Israelis lost 11 soldiers. In “Operation Pillar of Smoke”, (2012) hundreds more Palestinians died.

We commend Indy editors for promptly correcting Bar-Hillel’s false claim.

Guardian editor defends Hamas’s right to kill Israelis, AGAIN.

During the last war in Gaza two years ago, Guardian associate editor Seumas Milne defended the Palestinian ‘right’ of armed resistance, while arguing that Israel, as the ‘occupying power’, had no such right to defend itself against Hamas (It’s Palestinians who have the right to defend themselves, Nov. 20, 2012).

“So Gazans are an occupied people and have the right to resist, including by armed force (though not to target civilians), while Israel is an occupying power that has an obligation to withdraw – not a right to defend territories it controls or is colonising by dint of military power.

Now, here is the relevant passage from Milne’s latest op-ed, published today (Gaza: this shameful injustice will only end if the cost of it rises, July 16th) at the Guardian:

So the Palestinians of Gaza are an occupied people, like those in the West Bank, who have the right to resist, by force if they choose – though not deliberately to target civilians. But Israel does not have a right of self-defence over territories it illegally occupies – it has an obligation to withdraw.

The only difference between the passages in the two op-eds relates to Milne’s expanded right of resistance. Note that in 2012 it was only Gazans who had the right to engage in acts of terrorism, while in 2014 both Gazans and West Bank Palestinians enjoy the inalienable ‘right’ to kill Israelis. 

However, Milne is consistent in both op-eds with regard to one thing: Israel has no right to defend itself from Hamas terror. 

While Milne’s justification for the intentional killing of Israelis is not surprising given his history of praising anti-imperialist “resistance movements” across the globe, the mere fact that his latest polemic is consistent with his broader political orientation certainly doesn’t make it any less morally repulsive.

Guardian logic used to blame Israel for ceasefire violation in one tweet

If you’ve been following our recent posts, you’re aware that the Guardian live blog on the Gaza War posted two entries a few hours ago that somehow managed to blame Israel for breaking the ceasefire which took effect this morning.

They made this claim despite the fact the dozens of rockets were fired at Israeli cities by Hamas since the time of the ceasefire, while Israel (who had accepted the ceasefire) held its fire for six hours until finally retaliating after it was clear that the Islamist group had no intention of standing down.  (As we noted, US Secretary of State John Kerry forcefully condemned Hamas earlier in the day for violating the terms of the agreement.)

Well, a Guardian deputy editor named Phoebe Greenwood doubled down on the Guardian claim a few hours ago, and the rhetorical somersault she employed to defend the indefensible was truly something to behold.

Here it is, along with a response (above Greenwood’s Tweet) by Yiftah Curiel, spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in London:

tweet

As one commentator suggested, Greenwood’s argument goes something like this.

  1. Israel accepted the ceasefire and held its fire for six hours, hoping Hamas would do the same.
  2. Hamas ignored the ceasefire and continued firing dozens of rockets at Israeli towns.
  3. Israel finally retaliated against Hamas rocket attacks which showed no signs of winding down.
  4. Ergo, Israel violated the ceasefire.

This is of course the time when we typically employ a rhetorical flourish, encapsulating the substance of the post in a few pithy lines.  

However, on this occasion, given the jaw-dropping nature of the logic used by Greenwood, we find ourselves for once truly speechless.

 

Guardian’s war blog uncritically cites commentator who likens Israel to a child molester

Like any live blog on a serious news site, the Guardian’s running blog of the Gaza War is, presumably, supposed to post significant events and snippets of relevant commentary relating to the conflict. Yet the blog’s editor, Matthew Weaver, somehow thought the following odious smear (posted about 30 minutes ago) by Alexi Sayle (Author, comedian, and Palestine Solidarity Campaign Patron) was newsworthy and relevant to the debate about the conflict.

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Jimmy Savile is the late BBC broadcaster who, an investigation determined, was a predatory sex offender who assaulted hundreds of children over the course of decades.

During the course of the interview (below) he also likens Israel to a psychopath.

In the past, we’ve wondered – when responding to Guardian decisions to legitimize (and sometimes endorse) the most reprehensible charges against Israel – how much lower they could possibly go. Though this was of course a rhetorical question, their editors’ decision today to post such a vicious smear demonstrates that their institutional hostility towards the Jewish State includes few if any moral boundaries.

Hamas & IDF agree: Guardian wrong on usefulness of Israeli ‘knock on the roof’ warnings

post from about two hours ago at the Guardian’s Live Blog on the war dismissed as ineffective Israeli measures to warn Palestinians in Gaza before launching attacks on terror targets.

The post begins:

“warnings do not help save civilians lives as the Israeli military claims, according to the University of London’s Forensic Architecture centre at Goldsmiths which carried out a UN study into how the tactic operated during Operation Cast Lead in 2009.

The Guardian then quoted Eyal Weizman, director of the centre, who said:

The Israeli Defence Forces are again using a tactic in their attack on Gaza that they claim is aimed at saving lives—despite it having a track record of leading to the death of civilians, including women and children. So called “roof knock” strikes involve a drone firing a low- or none-explosive missile at the roof of a building that is to be destroyed. The missile is followed a short time later by a bomb that flattens the house—but exactly how long after is not known by the inhabitants.

The tactic first came to light after the 2008/9 offensive on Gaza. One of the case studies that we at Forensic Architecture produced for the UN Special Rapporteur on Counter Terrorism’s inquiry into drone strikes focused on an attack on the Salha family in Beit Lahiya on 9 January 2009. A missile was fired at the roof of the family’s home, but they did not know that this constituted a warning. After moments of terrified confusion, the family began to leave the house. However, before they could all safely leave, a bomb was dropped, and six women and children were killed.

At a time when most attacks in Gaza are on houses, the Israeli military is anxious to present themselves as trying to avoid civilian casualties. Yesterday it released a video showing a warning missile being fired at a house that it then deciding not to strike. However, in the attack on the home of Odeh Ahmad Mohammed Kaware, Defence for Children International Palestine reported that a warning missile was followed by a bomb that killed seven people, including five children. This should be taken as further confirmation that the use of this tactic should be stopped immediately.

Not only is it illegal to fire a missile at a civilian to warn them, the missiles also frequently penetrate the roofs they are intended to bounce off, further endangering civilian lives. Israeli military lawyers argue that after residents of a building have been warned, they can be considered as combatants and legitimately targeted. This is a gross misuse of international law that enables the Israeli military to justify attacks on buildings in built up areas, populated by civilians, that they would otherwise be unable to legally carry out

Finally, the Guardian posted a video to explain the group’s findings about one incident in 2009.

Ok, now let’s watch the following IDF video which highlights such methods:

Just IDF propaganda, you say?

Now listen to a Hamas spokesperson, commenting on a clip of the very same IDF operation: 

 

The Hamas spokesperson not only admitted that they use Palestinians human shields, but also tacitly admitted – per the IDF decision to abort the attack after civilians crowded on the roof – that such warnings do in fact save Palestinian lives.

But, who needs to consider such evidence when you have the timeless wisdom of forensic architects to rely on instead?

Do Guardian editors fact check the letters they choose to publish?

I’d imagine that the Guardian receives thousands of letters submitted by their readers for publication, of which only a few are likely published.  

letters

Their Letters page notes that the paper reserves the right to edit each submission, which prompted me to wonder whether the following letter, one of many about Syria published on Aug. 28, was even minimally fact checked: 

• Just to get a bit of balance on the excessive coverage of the children who were perhaps killed by a chemical attack by either Assad’s forces or the rebels. On 15 January 2009, Israel attacked Gaza and 210 to 300 children were killed in the raids; 700 adults were also killed. The list of names was published by al-Jazeera on 15 January 2009. Children have been killed throughout the Middle East, but the west only focuses on certain cases that help its political interests.
Janet Salmon
Richmond, Surrey

First, whilst the prose is quite confusing, Ms. Salmon’s letter could easily be understood as (falsely) asserting that, just as Syrian children were (“perhaps”!) killed by chemical weapons (“by either Assad’s forces or the rebels”), Israel perpetrated a similar crime in January of 2009. Of course, the writer doesn’t say this explicitly but, based on the wording, that is how it could easily be interpreted by an average reader. 

Second, in reading the letter you’d be forgiven for assuming that on January 15, 2009 Israel launched an attack on Gaza, resulting in the death of a thousand Palestinians, including 300 children, on that one day alone.  Of course, however, Israel’s war against Hamas terrorists in Gaza (Operation Cast Lead) lasted a little over three weeks – commencing on Dec. 27, 2008 and ending on Jan 18, 2009. And, whilst claims regarding the total death toll varied, the casualty figures cited in Salmon’s letter did not occur on that one January day, but over the course of the entire 23 day war. 

All of this information could easily have been revealed by a simple Google search, a fact-checking task which doesn’t seem too arduous for a team of professional Guardian editors.

Harriet Sherwood and the myth of olive oil shortages in Gaza

Hadar Sela recently commented on Harriet Sherwood’s report in the Guardian (Gaza gastronomy”, May 14) which focused on a food collective in Gaza called Zeitun, as well as a recently published book titled ‘The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey co-written by Maggie Schmitt and ‘Comment is Free’ contributor Laila Haddad.

olives

In addition to the important questions raised by Sela about Haddad – a one-stater who has previously ‘informed’ readers at ‘Comment is Free’ that Gaza is worse than a prison camp, and has used Electronic Intifada to warn of an impending “Gaza genocide” – the Guardian report is notable for the following claims made by Sherwood in the context of explaining the broader challenges of cooking in the Palestinian run territory:

In Gaza, almost 1 million people – more than half the population – receive basic food assistance from the United Nations. The 13 women of the Zeitun Kitchen co-operative [a women's co-operative, which caters for weddings and family parties in Gaza] have learned to adapt to the privations of life in Gaza: shortages of power and cooking oil; Israel’s ban on many foodstuffs during the three years in which a stringent blockade was in place; the fluctuations in black market supplies through the tunnels to Egypt; the destruction of and restrictions on access to prime agricultural land; the imposition of strict limits on how far from shore Gaza’s fishermen can lower their nets.

Olive oil is just one example. An essential ingredient in most Palestinian dishes, the uprooting of olive trees in both Gaza and the West Bank has made the once-abundant oil prohibitively expensive for many families. Now it is often used just to dress a dish, rather than create it.

So, is there a shortage of olives or olive oil in Gaza, as Sherwood contends?

OliveOil

An increase in Palestinian olive trees:

  • CAMERA’s Tamar Sternthal, in fisking a Los Angeles Times review of ‘Gaza Kitchen’ by Carol J. Williams, addressed the specific contention by Williams – similar to Sherwood’s claim – that “locally made olive oil has disappeared” due to the Israeli blockade, and was able to demonstrate that there are actually “significantly more olive trees in Gaza now than in the years before Israel imposed a blockade.”  

An increase in olive oil production

  • Additionally, the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) on March 17, 2013 noted that there was a significant “increase in olive oil production in Palestine [West Bank and Gaza] in 2012“. The quantity of olive oil extracted in “Palestine” in 2012 rose, PCBS statistics demonstrated, by 10.6% compared to 2011. (Additionally, there is evidence that olive oil production in Gaza specifically increased significantly in 2012)

A surplus of olive oil:

  • A detailed economic report by the PCBS in 2012 indicated that Palestinian olive oil production was expected to be 18 thousand tons in 2012. Taking into account the 6 thousand ton surplus from the previous year, the total available supply of olive oil in the Palestinian territories was expected to be nearly 24 thousand tons.  Since the local annual consumption of olive oil, again per the PCBS, is about 14 thousand tons, there was an expected surplus of approximately 10 thousand tons of olive oil in “Palestine” for the current year. 
  • Additional data by the World Bank supports the PCBS conclusion that olive oil production in the Palestinian territories greatly exceeds local consumption.

Exports of olives and olive oil

Data suggests that olive oil prices have recently decreased in Gaza.

  • The economic analysis of Gaza by the PCBS cited above suggested a decrease in the price of olive oil in the Palestinian territories in 2012, compared to 2011. [Table 6.2]

So, not only is there no evidence to support Harriet Sherwood’s claim that there is a shortage of olive oil in Gaza (and related higher prices) due to “the uprooting of olive trees” by Israel, but PCBS data suggests an abundant supply of olives and olive oil in the West Bank and Gaza, and that prices, if anything, may have fallen a bit from 2011 levels.

Once again, it seems likely that the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent relied solely on anecdotal evidence from Palestinian sources‘ without fact-checking the specific claims using readily available open source information.

The Guardian continues to yawn over Palestinians summarily executed in Gaza

A couple of days following the start of the November war between Israel and Hamas, masked Palestinian gunmen in Gaza publicly executed seven Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel – a story which was widely covered.   

According to Palestinian witnesses, at around noon on Nov. 16 a van stopped at a Gaza City intersection, and several masked men pushed seven suspected ‘informers’ out of the vehicle.  The gunmen then ordered them to lie face down in the street and shot them all in the head.  Shortly after the killing, a mob surrounded the corpses and some in the crowd “stomped and spat on the bodies”, while others kicked the head of one of the dead men.

One of the corpses was tied to a motorcycle and dragged through the streets as people reportedly screamed, “God is Great!”.

Palestinian gunmen ride motorcycles as they drag  the body of a man, who was suspected of working for Israel, in Gaza City

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“They should have been killed in a more brutal fashion so others don’t even think about working with the occupation,” said one of the Palestinian bystanders.

The victims allegedly had notices tied around their necks saying they had been killed by Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades - Hamas’s ‘armed wing’.

In stark contrast to the Guardian’s intense coverage of the 8 day war – which included an official Guardian editorial, frequent updates at their Middle East Live blog, and direct reporting from Gaza City by Harriet Sherwood and Chris McGreal - their only stand alone story about this brutal extra-judicial killing was an anonymous AP story on Nov. 20.

Additionally, the Guardian has also thus far failed to cover a recent report by Human Rights Watch (widely reported in the mainstream media) condemning Hamas for failing to investigate the Nov. 16 summary executions.  HRW noted that Hamas’s failure to investigate “the brazen murders” make “a mockery of its claims that it’s upholding the rule of law in Gaza”. 

Whilst the suggestion that Hamas would ever conduct a fair inquiry into human rights violations committed by its own military is of course absurd, the Guardian’s lack of interest in the savage murder of seven Gazans – particularly in contrast to their intense focus on Palestinian terrorists imprisoned by Israel who engage in hunger strikes - continues to make a mockery of claims that their concern for Palestinian rights is principled, and not largely inspired by an animus towards Israel.

Guardian Teacher Network site promotes distorted history of Israel’s birth

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The Guardian Teacher Network (GTN) is a site dedicated to helping UK teachers find jobs, focus on a career path and “gain resources and ideas” to assist in their professional development. They even have suggested lesson plans, sample tests and other classroom aids to help teaching professionals with day-to-day challenges.

A CiF Watch post (Guardian publishes false information about IDF attack on Ahmed al-Jabari) in November noted that a blog entry at GTN – which provided a summary of the recent Gaza war for educators to use in class – falsely claimed that the Israeli air strike on the Hamas military chief on Nov. 14 also killed a 6 year-old girl and an 11-month old baby.

As we noted, the strike killed only al-Jabari and his bodyguard.

Following our post, the Guardian corrected the mistake.

More recently, upon perusing the page to learn what additional information about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict was available to British educators, I found this history lesson plan for students ages 14-16.

Conflict between Israel and the Arab states, 1949-1979

After doing this lesson, you should understand why Israel was involved in three wars between 1949 and 1979, why Israel was able to win these three wars, why and with what consequences other countries became involved in conflict in the Middle East, why the problems of the Middle East were not solved by 1979, identify the main motives of each of the countries involved in the disputes in the Middle East, explain why countries outside of the Middle East became involved, and discuss what the consequences were for both the Middle East and the world at large of the failure to solve the Arab/Israeli problem.

Here’s the first section, on how Israel was founded.

In order to understand why there were wars between Israel and the Arab states in 1956, 1967 and 1973, you need to fully understand what had been happening in the area between 1945 and 1949.

Column 1 contains the beginning of some sentences and column 2 gives you [the] endings. 

Here is the Guardian graphic – which I edited according to the “correct” answers to the questions they provided - representing the sum total of what their education editors deem necessary for students to know about the events between 1945 and 1949 to help them understand the wars between Israel and the Arabs in ’56, ’67, and ’73.

graphic

The selective history lesson is truly a work of art.

  • Students learn about the White Paper (see #2), but not the Balfour Declaration. (Additionally, there is nothing about the Mandate for Palestine, the the history of Zionism, or 4,000 years of Jewish history in the land).
  • There is an implicit suggestion (see #3) that the justification for Israel’s existence is significantly based on the “terrible treatment of Jews in concentration camps during the Second World War”.
  • Two of the eight questions (see #4 and #5) focus on terrorist acts committed by the Irgun and Stern Gang, yet there is absolutely nothing about Arab pograms, riots, terrorism, and brutality committed against Jews.
  • There is nothing (see #7) indicating which side accepted, and which side rejected, the UN recommended division of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states.

Note also that there is no indication that Arabs refused to recognize Israel even after the war, nor the subsequent Arab terror attacks, the Arab League economic boycott and other forms of belligerence – all of which are vital to understanding the subsequent conflict.

Moreover, note that Arabs are barely even mentioned in the Q&A table.  Arabs – those living in historic Palestine, as well as those in the greater Middle East – are not moral actors in the GTN history of the region between 1945-49.

The Guardian Teacher Network recommended history lesson about the Israeli-Palestinian/Israeli-Arab/Israeli-Islamist Conflict is, however, accurate in one respect. It represents an entirely accurate snapshot of the Guardian’s skewed, myopic, Israeli-obsessed and egregiously distorted reporting on the region. 

A Guardian journalist conjures Israeli “snipers with children in their sights”

Here’s a quote from a report by Guardian “journalist” Chris McGreal, ‘Rachel Corrie verdict exposes Israeli military mindset‘, on Aug. 28.

“…the state of the collective Israeli military mind…cast the definition of enemies so widely that children walking down the street were legitimate targets if they crossed a red line that was invisible to everyone but the soldiers looking at it on their maps.”

mcgreal

To learn about McGreal’s mindset, see the links below, and read the section about the Guardian in CST’s 2011 Report on Antisemitic Rhetoric in the UK.

However, while McGreal’s views on Israel are well-known, I was curious to see if this particularly insidious accusation, that the IDF targets Palestinian kids, was a one-off, and after  brief search found a piece he wrote in 2005 which was even more explicit.

Here are some excerpts from a 2005 McGreal piece titled “Snipers with children in their sights“:

“It was the shooting of Asma Mughayar that swept away any lingering doubts I had about how it is the Israeli army kills so many Palestinian children and civilians.

Asma, 16, and her younger brother, Ahmad, were collecting laundry from the roof of their home in the south of the Gaza Strip in May last year when they were felled by an Israeli army sniper. Neither child was armed or threatening the soldier, who fired unseen through a hole punched in the wall of a neighbouring block of flats.

the army changed its account and claimed the pair were killed by a Palestinian, though there was persuasive evidence pointing to the Israeli sniper’s nest.

In southern Gaza, the killings take place in a climate that amounts to a form of terror against the population. Random fire into Rafah and Khan Yunis has claimed hundreds of lives, including five children shot as they sat at their school desks.Many others have died when the snipers must have known who was in their sights – children playing football, sitting outside home, walking back from school.”

The last passage (which quite predictably doesn’t even contain a link to a source) is astonishing, and begins to explain McGreal’s obsessive hatred for the Jewish state.

McGreal genuinely seems to believe that sadistic Israeli “snipers” intentionally fire at Palestinian children who are playing football or while they sit at their school desks.  

He doesn’t just dislike Israel, or disagree with Israeli government policy regarding the Palestinians.

The Guardian journalist seems to agree with the most unhinged extremists in the region – those who believe as an article of faith that Israelis are simply monsters.

Chris McGreal makes 3rd unforced error in story on footballers signing anti-Israel petition

The Guardian’s Chris McGreal (recently singled out in a CST Report on Antisemitic Discourse) recently published a story about a petition signed by some footballers calling for European football’s governing body to cancel Israel’s hosting of a 2013 European competition in response to the Gaza war.  (‘Footballers condemn plans to hold U21 European Championship in Israel‘, Guardian, Nov. 30)

However, after a CiF Watch post demonstrated that two of the footballers cited by McGreal as signing the petition - former Chelsea player Didier Drogba and Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye - flatly denied signing it, the Guardian revised McGreal’s piece accordingly, and noted the following on their corrections page.

correction

Well, it looks like the Guardian’s ‘Corrections’ editor will have more work to do, as the Daily Mail is reporting that another footballer cited by McGreal, Chelsea forward Eden Hazard, has also denied signing the petition.

The Daily Mail’s Charles Sale wrote:

“Hazard had not contributed to the petition. His agent John Bico said: ‘Eden never speaks about his political opinions and he certainly never signed anything.’” 

You can email Guardian readers’ editor Chris Elliott (reader@guardian.co.uk), and Tweet Chris McGreal (@ChrisMcGreal), to point out the additional error. 

Guardian features prominently in watchdog group’s ‘Top 10 Media Fails of the Gaza War’

HonestReporting published their ‘Top 10 Media Fails of the Gaza War‘ and the Guardian claimed the number 5 and 9 slots.

Placing at number 5 was Steve Bell’s cartoon of hapless British statesmen being controlled by a seemingly omnipotent Jewish leader.

bell

HonestReporting’s Alex Margolin wrote the following about the cartoon:

“When it comes to building a Hall of Shame in coverage of the media war against Israel, you can always count on The Guardian to compete for a high place on the list. And this year is no exception.

This cartoon of Benjamin Netanyahu published on the first days of the war offers so many different aspects of media bias, it’s hard to pick out the worst ones. Start with a classic anti-Semitic trope of Israel manipulating and controlling Western leaders. Then there is the strong implication that the real motive behind Israel’s operation is to manipulate the election.”

Seumas Milne’s essay’s explicitly endorsing the right of Palestinians to kill Israelis placed at number 9.

milne

Margolin:

It takes a man of extraordinary bias to look at thousands of rockets flying into Israeli cities, and to conclude, despite all evidence, that it’s the Palestinians and not the Israelis who have the right to defend themselves. Seamus Milne is that kind of man.

“To portray Israel as some kind of victim with every right to “defend itself” from attack from “outside its borders” is a grotesque inversion of reality,” he writes, dismissing the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza as irrelevant.

“So Gazans are an occupied people and have the right to resist, including by armed force (though not to target civilians), while Israel is an occupying power that has an obligation to withdraw – not a right to defend territories it controls or is colonising by dint of military power,” he adds.

It’s unclear which war Milne is watching, but the Palestinian attacks consisted of nothing but attacks on civilians and Israel has already withdrawn entirely from Gaza. Talk about a grotesque inversion of reality, Seamus…you lead the way in showing how it’s done.

You can read the complete top 10 list here.

If you recall, the Guardian was also the undisputed winner of HonestReporting’s 2011 Dishonest Reporting’ Award.  

The Dead Baby War: Fisking Max Fisher

Cross posted by Richard Landes at Augean Stables under the full title: “The Dead Baby War: Reflections on Palestinian Thanatography and Western Stupefication”.

Max Fisher, formerly of the Atlantic Monthly, now the WaPo’s “foreign policy advisor,”  just posted a reflection on the war of images in the current Gaza operation. In it he makes every effort to be “even-handed.” And in the end, comes up empty-handed. A remarkable example of how intelligent people can look carefully at evidence and learn nothing. If I didn’t know better (which I don’t), I might think he was doing some “damage control,” if not for Hamas (in which case, presumably it would be unconscious), then for the paradigm that permits him not to acknowledge Hamas’ character.

The Israeli-Palestinian politics of a bloodied child’s photo

Posted by Max Fisher on November 16, 2012 at 3:17 pm

 

Left, a journalist for BBC Arabic holds his son’s body. Center, an emergency worker carries an Israeli infant from the site of a rocket strike. Right, Egypt’s prime minister and a Hamas official bend over a young boy’s body. (AP, Reuters, Reuters)

Wars are often defined by their images, and the renewed fighting between Israel and Gaza-based Hamas has already produced three such photographs in as many days. In the first, displayed on the front page of Thursday’s Washington Post, BBC journalist Jihad Misharawi carries the body of his 11-month-old son, killed when a munition landed on his Gaza home. An almost parallel image shows an emergency worker carrying an Israeli infant, bloody but alive, from the scene of a rocket attack that had killed three adults. The third, from Friday, captures Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil, in his visit to a Gazan hospital, resting his hand on the head of a boy killed in an airstrike.

Each tells a similar story: a child’s body, struck by a heartless enemy, held by those who must go on. It’s a narrative that speaks to the pain of a grieving people, to the anger at those responsible, and to a determination for the world to bear witness. But the conversations around these photos, and around the stories that they tell, are themselves a microcosm of the distrust and feelings of victimhood that have long plagued the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Studiously even-handed. One of my favorite memes: “both sides…”

The old arguments of the Middle East are so entrenched that the photos, for all their emotional power, were almost immediately pressed into the service of one side or another.

Actually, there’s a huge difference between the sides. Israel has, over the years, shown enormous reluctance to use the photos of their dead and wounded to appeal for public sympathy; whereas Palestinians have actually created victims in order to parade their suffering in front of the public. Indeed, Palestinian TV revels in pictures of the dead (so much so, that when my daughter wanted to help me with some logging of PLO TV footage, I had to decline lest she be brutalized by the material). They systematically use the media to both arouse sympathy from an “empathic” West, and to arouse hatred and a desire for revenge among Arabs and Muslims. Nothing uglier.

Israel, on the other hand, studiously avoids pictures of the dead, and only a shocking incident like Ramallah can break those taboos. They were so reluctant to exploit these images that, even at the height of the suicide campaign (2002-3) they refused to release pictures of the dead victims. The two cultures could not be more different on this score, and yet, Fisher has no problem finding his symmetry.

To obfuscate this fundamental difference with a pleasing even-handedness symbolizes the literal stupefication of our culture that necessarily accompanies the politically correct paradigm (PCP1), founded on a dogmatic cognitive egocentrism. It forces one not to see critical information. It’s as if we were under orders to not notice everything that a good detective should pick up on, as if we were required to assist the clean-up crews that want to frame the story to their advantage. In such a world, the protagonists of the Mentalist, Lie to Me, Elementary, CSI, House, are not merely unwelcome, they are banished.

Harriet Sherwood sees another ulterior motive for Israel’s operation in Gaza

On Nov. 12 we posted about a report by Harriet Sherwood on Nov. 11 about the “escalation” in Gaza which suggested that the upcoming Israeli elections were quite possibly motivating Bibi Netanyahu to consider a major military operation in response. 

“In the south, dozens of rockets and mortars were fired from Gaza between Saturday evening and midday on Sunday by militants from Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other organisations. 

Netanyahu warned that the military was ready to intensify its response to rocket fire from Gaza following the escalation of attacks and counter-attacks.

The round of violence followed a similar spike almost three weeks ago, which subsided after intervention by Egyptian mediators. But some observers believe Netanyahu may be more inclined to order a robust approach in the runup to Israel’s general election on 22 January.”

Sherwood attempted to buttress the claim by suggesting that Operation Cast Lead, in 2008-09, was similarly launched just before an Israeli election.

Operation Cast Lead, the three-week assault on Gaza in which about 1,400 Palestinians were killed, was launched in the build-up to Israel’s last election in 2009.” [emphasis added]

The Guardian’s ongoing live blog on the current conflict included an audio interview with Sherwood (who at the time was waiting to cross into Gaza), by the Guardian’s Haroon Siddique (posted at roughly 10:30 Israeli time), in which she walked back a bit from that claim.  

However, at the 3:55 mark in the audio (embedded below) Sherwood suggested another possible cause for the conflict: The Palestinian Authority’s current bid to gain non-state membership at the United Nations.

The degree to which the Israeli government’s current military act is motivated by a simple desire to protect its citizens from enemy rocket fire, as any other nation in the world would most certainly do, evidently didn’t factor in to her analysis.