Guardian covers tabloid scandal about Bibi’s wife; ignores Gaza terror attacks

In 2005 Israel evacuated every Jew from Gaza, an act which provided Palestinians in the coastal strip a chance to have an independent polity free of foreign interference for the first time in history.  

In 2006, despite assurances from the ‘international community’ that the absence of an Israeli military and ‘settler’ presence would moderate the Palestinian electorate in Gaza, a plurality of Gazans voted for Hamas – an extremist group committed to the annihilation of Israel and the murder of Jews.  Hamas has run the territory without political opposition since their violent purge of Fatah in 2007.  

Since 2006, and despite the absence of Israeli occupation, over 8,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israeli towns.  Or, to put it more accurately, there have been 8,000 individual attempts to murder innocent Israelis since that time. 

To those who don’t understand why many Israelis are reluctant to cede more land to the Palestinians without sufficient and sustainable security guarantees that aren’t dependent on the good will of Palestinian leaders or the casual ‘assurances’ of Western governments, the answer can be culled from the results of this real-life ‘land for peace’ experiment.  In short, though most Israelis strongly support, in principle, a two-state solution, most wearily expect that the new Palestinian state will quickly devolve into either failed state or, more likely, a terror state.

The reason why this blog focuses at times on the Guardian’s failure to report terror attacks from Gaza (and the West Bank), is that such an egregious failure to report the full story about the conflict allows their readers to lazily dismiss Israel’s insistence on defensible borders. This security doctrine is based on past wars and terror attacks, as well as the current reality of terrorist enemies on their borders (Hezbollah and Hamas) who are in possession of a combined arsenal of up to 170,000 (increasingly sophisticated and accurate) rockets and missiles.

So, for instance, the Guardian has failed to publish even one stand-alone article  (by their regional reporters) on any of the 100 plus rocket attacks from Gaza since January, 2014.  (The only minor exception pertains to two AFP stories (not written by Guardian staff) which characteristically focused on Israel’s response to rocket attacks.)

Here are the headlines of the two AFP reports which even mentioned Gaza rocket attacks. (Note the ‘tit for tat’ narrative, and emphasis on Israel’s response to the Gaza rockets):

AFP/Guardian story, March 3:

march 3AFP/Guardian story, March 13:

March 13

 Though their regional correspondents evidently didn’t find scores of deadly projectile fired at Israeli civilian targets newsworthy, they did, however, find time to pen two articles on complaints by former employees of the Netanyahus (a maid and a household assistant) about alleged unfair treatment by the prime minister’s wife, Sara.

Here’s a January 17 report by Rory McCarthy:

jan 17

Here’s an April 9 report by the Guardian’s new Jerusalem correspondent, Peter Beaumont:

april 9

 ‘Shocking’ details in the Jan. 17 report, included the following:

Peretz [the former maid] worked in the Netanyahu family home, in Caesarea, for six years. In the lawsuit she reportedly claimed that the prime minister’s wife, a psychologist, denied her basic social benefits and shouted at her for not following rules. Among the rules was allegedly the instruction that the employer be addressed only as “Mrs Sara Netanyahu,” following her husband becoming prime minister last spring.

Peter Beaumont’s story including even more ‘explosive’ charges:

He alleges that on another occasion Mrs Netanyahu woke him at 3am to complain that he had bought milk in bags rather than cartons. “When I complained about the time and the tone in which she spoke the harsh words to me, Mr Netanyahu interfered in the discussion and said I should do everything Mrs Netanyahu asked ‘so she will calm down’,” Naftali claims.

To put the Guardian’s priorities in some perspective, here are stats comparing their coverage of over 100 rockets attacks (100 individual Palestinian war crimes) vs their coverage of complaints against the prime minister’s wife by two former employees:

  • Guardian stories covering Sara Netanyahu’s alleged mistreatment of two employees: 2
  • Number of words in two Guardian reports on Sara Netanyahu’s alleged mistreatment of two employees: 1228
  • Guardian stories primarily devoted to terrorist attacks from Gaza: 0
  • Number of words devoted to Gaza rocket attacks on Israel within two broader Guardian/AFP reports (which focused on the general ‘tit for tat’ attacks between Gaza and Israel): 110

In case you were wondering, the latest illegal attack on Israeli civilians by the terrorists in control of Gaza (not reported by the Guardian) occurred on April 9, the very day the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent published the latest installment of L’Affair Sara.

Such contrasting priorities, which place greater emphasis on gossip about the Israeli prime minister’s wife than on deadly projectiles fired at innocent Israeli men, women and children, explains quite a bit about British misconceptions on the root cause of the conflict, and the main impediments to its resolution. 

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The Economist falsely suggests that exports from Gaza are banned.

The Economist’s Middle East blog, Pomegranate, published a post on April 2 about the art scene in Gaza, titled ‘Not so bleak, which included the following closing passages:

Hamas now keeps its hands off the enclave’s burgeoning arts scene. “In the first years it banned exhibitions,” says Mr Haj. “Now it stages its own…There’s a kind of a glasnost.” Purists in the religious-endowments ministries stayed away. But the Hamas culture minister issued a licence, offering moral but not financial support and apologising that his $10,000 budget for such projects could not cover the show.

The interior ministry did summon an artist, but only to inquire menacingly how he had managed to exhibit a painting in Israel. “I sent it by e-mail,” came the reply. Selling the originals is trickier, since exports from Gaza are still banned.

First, it should be pointed out that there is nothing prohibiting the Palestinian artist in Gaza from sending the original painting to Israel, as there is regular postal service between the two territories. Moreover, The Economist blogger’s suggestion that ‘exports from Gaza are banned’ is flatly untrue.

The following graph published by Gisha – an NGO whose mission is to “protect the freedom of movement of Palestinians, especially Gaza residents” – illustrates the number of truckloads of goods exiting Gaza for export (to the U.S., Europe and the Arab world).

gisha graphic

As you can see, though the quantity of trucks leaving the strip for export varies dramatically depending on the month, there is clearly no ban on exports, as The Economist seems to claim.  

Additionally, according to COGAT (the Israel Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories), from the beginning of 2012 through July 2013 over 850 tons of fruits, vegetables, flowers and spices were exported abroad from Gaza. 

tut

Strawberries prepared for export from Gaza

In fact, it appears that there are few limits imposed by Israel on the quantity of consumer goods Gaza can export to foreign markets (outside of Israel and the West Bank), so it’s unclear how The Economist contributor – who only goes by the initials N.P. – arrived at the conclusion that ‘exports are (still) banned’.

 

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Palestine Solidarity Campaign holds anti-Israel hate event at P21 Gallery.

Cross posted by London-based blogger Richard Millett

PSC at P21 Gallery, London last night.

PSC at P21 Gallery, London last night.

“Boycott, Boycott, Boycott. Boycott Israeli products and settlement products. Put pressure on Israel economically. It’s the language THEY understand,” Mahmoud Doughlas implored his audience last night.

Doughlas wasn’t pressed on what he meant by “they”, but the language certainly seemed to contain a racist undercurrent.

Doughlas was speaking, via Skype from Nablus, at a PSC event hosted by P21 Gallery. The event was Education under Occupation – stories from West Bank and Gaza students.

Doughlas, an electrical engineering student at Birzeit University, was speaking from Nablus because, he said, Britain had refused him an entry visa.

He began by telling the audience that when he was in 7th grade Israeli soldiers entered his school “randomly injuring people” and throwing teargas into the classrooms. He couldn’t breathe for 15 minutes and ended up in hospital.

He claimed that one of his friends had been imprisoned for 18 months for writing graffiti on a settlement wall and, if I heard correctly, he said Palestinians have even “been arrested for dreaming about doing something”.

Meanwhile, Jehan al Farra, an alumnus of the Islamic University in Gaza, definitely was in London. She had been in the UK since September studying for a Masters in Computer Studies.

Her main preoccupation last night was describing the problems of studying in Gaza, especially getting to and from academic institutions there due to fuel shortages.

During the Q&A an audience member pointed out that she is highly articulate and very confident, which is a tribute to her teachers and the syllabus. This was a difficult point for her to address without admitting that, just maybe, the situation isn’t as bad as her and her colleagues were attempting to portray.

But she did address another point when an audience member claimed that “Israel had worked hard to destroy Palestinian heritage”. Al Farra said that Israel had even “occupied Palestinian culture”. An example she gave was the Israeli keffiyeh.

Maybe al Farra should read this interesting statement on the Israeli keffiyeh:

“Jews indigenous to the Middle East, such as my family is, have worn some variation of the “kefyah” (cap/kippah) and keffiyeh (head/neck scarves) for thousands of years.”

Here is al Farra last night describing how Palestinians sometimes get killed in accidents when using electricity generators:

 

Last night the PSC was sporting its brand new logo (see top photo – top left of screen). However, on the PSC website and their leaflets the logo is still the map of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, which is far more honest about their intentions for Israel:

psclogo

And PSC’s Ameena Saleem, who was chairing last night’s event, wasted no opportunity to call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. This, as we know, is merely code for calling for the Jewish state’s destruction.

P21 Gallery, itself, has a fairly large space at 21 Chalton Street. It supported St James’s Church’s Bethlehemfest over the Christmas period when St James’s Church ran a number of anti-Israel events while also erecting a copy of Israel’s security wall outside its premises in central London.

St James’s Church called for the real wall, which saves lives, to be dismantled. An astonishing £30,000 was spent building the copy wall.

Meanwhile, the charitable objectives of P21 Gallery (registered number 1153141) are:

“TO WORK IN COLLABORATION WITH BRITISH AND INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS, ORGANISATIONS, ARTISTS, CURATORS AND DESIGNERS TO PROMOTE, DOCUMENT AND FACILITATE PUBLIC ACCESS TO ARAB ART AND CULTURE IN BRITAIN BY ESTABLISHING AND MAINTAINING AN ART GALLERY AND CULTURAL CENTRE FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE PUBLIC.”

But the website of P21 Gallery states:

“The P21 Gallery is a London-based non-profit organisation promoting contemporary Middle Eastern and Arab art and culture with distinct focus on Palestine.”

Judging by last night’s event I think that the charitable objectives could possibly be more clearly defined as: Facilitating the destruction of Israel and its replacement with a Palestinian state.

But then that wouldn’t have sounded too charitable to the Charity Commissioners.

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Stealth ‘corrections’ at the Indy in Mira Bar-Hillel’s confessional about Olmert

A couple of hours ago we posted about an op-ed by Mira Bar-Hillel, titled ‘I dated Ehud Olmert once. His ambition stood out, but the corruption was yet to come‘, which included two errors:

First, she got the date of Ariel Sharon’s coma wrong.

More significantly, Bar-Hillel greatly inflated the casualty figures from the 2008-09 war in Gaza.  Here’s the original passage:

he [Olmert] ordered the molten lead attack on Gaza in December 2008, which again left over 1,000 Palestinian civilians dead, 

As we noted, even B’tselem (the NGO which has one of the highest casualty tallies) didn’t claim that the three-week conflict between Israel and Hamas “left over 1,000 Palestinian civilians dead”.  While other sources (including, quite tellingly, Hamas) place the civilian casualty figures dramatically lower, B’tselem has claimed that 773 of the 1387 Palestinians killed “did not take part in hostilities”.

Shortly after contacting Indy editors and alerting them to the errors, we noticed two changes:

First, the date of Sharon’s coma was corrected.

However, though there was a second change, it was not at all sufficient.  They merely changed this…

Two years later, he ordered the molten lead attack on Gaza in December 2008, which again left over 1,000 Palestinian civilians dead… 

to this:

Two years later he ordered the molten lead attack on Gaza in December 2008, which again left nearly 1,000 Palestinian civilians dead..

So, do they accept B’tselem’s figures, or don’t they? If they do, then are we to believe that 773 is “nearly 1000″?

Finally, it’s important to note that though newspaper editors (at the Guardian and elsewhere) who respond positively to our correction requests typically explain the revision or acknowledge it somewhere on their site, the changes to Bar-Hillel’s op-ed were not acknowledged or explained via an email, nor noted by Indy editors anywhere on the page.

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UK journalist who dated Ehud Olmert corrupts Gaza War casualty figures

Mira Bar-Hillel, the British journalist who has admitted to being prejudiced against Jews, penned an op-ed on April 1 at the Independent which contained an even more startling revelation:
mira

In what reads at first glance as an April Fool’s joke, Bar-Hillel writes the following about the former Israeli Prime Minister.

Reader, I didn’t marry him. Not even close. But I did once go out with the former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who has just been convicted of bribery and corruption.

Back in late 1969 a blind date was arranged for us. We moved in the same circles for a few years: he as an aspiring politician, me as a journalist. Then as now, Olmert was highly intelligent, with a sharp legal mind. On the downside was his raw ambition.

Olmert was the accidental PM. ‘Arik’ Sharon made him his deputy mainly to force him to toe the line. But when Sharon fell into a coma in 2004, Olmert inherited the job without having to bother with an election which he would probably not have won.

His legacy as PM includes the ill-fated adventure in Lebanon in August 2006, which killed over 1,000 people, mostly civilians, devastated civil infrastructure and displaced approximately one million Lebanese. Two years later, he ordered the molten lead attack on Gaza in December 2008, which again left over 1,000 Palestinian civilians dead, many of them, as in Lebanon, children.

First, she of course got the date of Ariel Sharon’s coma wrong, which occurred in 2006, not 2004.

Additionally, Bar-Hillel significantly inflates the casualty figures in the 2008-09 war in Gaza.

Even such politicized pro-Palestinian NGOs such as B’tselem haven’t claimed that the three-week conflict between Israel and Hamas “left over 1,000 Palestinian civilians dead”.  While other sources (including, quite tellingly, Hamas) place the civilian casualty figures dramatically lower, B’tselem has claimed that 773 of the 1387 Palestinians they claim were killed in the war “did not take part in hostilities” – more than 20 percent less than the figure cited by Bar-Hillel.

While Bar-Hillel acknowledges that the failed shidduch with the disgraced former PM didn’t provide an opportunity to really get to know the man, readers of the Independent would likely benefit from an equally frank admission that the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is an issue about which she knows even less about.

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Beware of Zionists with Iranian rockets: Snapshot of bias at the Irish Times

Mahmoud Abbas “is not a partner for a permanent-status agreement in which at the end there is recognition of the State of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people,” Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told Channel 2 on Saturday night.

Ya’alon argued, ahead of Abbas’s Monday meeting with President Obama, that the Palestinians don’t recognize Israel’s right to exist here and therefore will not agree to end the conflict, end all demands and recognize Israel as a Jewish state – before predicting that “a peace agreement will not happen in [his] generation”.

Though the story received wide coverage, the Irish Times chose an especially interesting photo to illustrate their story centering on Ya’alon’s comments and recent White House talks:

rockets

There’s one problem with the photo of Ya’alon. The caption conveniently fails to note that the rockets in the background – evoking the malevolence befitting such a right-wing ultra-Zionist – were not Israel’s. The EPA photo was taken on March 10 during an IDF presentation of an Iranian shipment of advanced Syrian missiles seized on the Klos-C container ship, which were intended to be delivered to Gaza. 

epa

The Press Council of Ireland prohibits not only misleading or false claims or reports, but the use of photos which would leave an erroneous impression, and the photo of Ya’alon used by the Irish Times would likely lead most readers, consciously or unconsciously, to incorrectly assume that the rockets behind the menacing defense minister were the property of the IDF. 

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What the Guardian Left’s silence about ’40 Palestinian war crimes’ means to the peace process

Israeli children in a Sderot bomb-proof bunker, 2009 (Credit: Noam Bedein)

Israeli children in a Sderot bomb-proof bunker, 2009 (Credit: Noam Bedein)

Yesterday, at 16:27 Israeli time, the Guardian published an essay by Margot Ellis, deputy commissioner-general for UNRWA, about what she claims is the growing humanitarian crisis in the West Bank and Gaza.  Her piece, ‘Aid money follows the cameras, which is why Palestine is suffering so badly‘, March 12, is quintessential Guardian in that it places the blame for Palestinian suffering on Israel, and literally doesn’t say a word in an over 800 word piece about the responsibility of Hamas or the Palestinian Authority.  

But, not only does Ellis characteristically portray Palestinians as passive victims, but actually makes the claim – in a paper, remember, which provides obsessive coverage of Israel and the Palestinian territories - that there isn’t enough media attention paid to their plight, and, perhaps even more risibly given their share of international aid, that Palestinians don’t receive their fair share of funding.  Ellis’s demands consisted of a plea that more attention be paid to Palestinian suffering, an increase in aid to UNRWA, and an end to Israel’s (legal) blockade of Gaza.

At approximately 17:14 on the same day, as Israeli kids were returning home from school, Code Red sirens began to wail throughout southern Israel, as an onslaught of roughly 40 rockets and mortars were fired at Israeli civilians by terrorists in Gaza (aka, 40 individual war crimes), causing thousands in cities such as Sderot and Netivot to spend the night in bomb shelters.  

This latest barrage adds to the more than 8,000 such attacks since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, and represents the largest single volley since the end of Pillar of Defense in November 2012.

Interestingly, if you look on the Guardian’s Israel, Palestine and Gaza pages, though you’ll see their live coverage yesterday of Prime Minister Cameron’s visit to Israel which included a Live Blog of his speech before the Knesset, you won’t find a single news item on the Palestinian attack. (Indeed, the sole entry which pertains to the attack thus far is a brief AP dispatch in their World News section which was not easy to locate.)

The Guardian’s relative silence in the face of such a clear breach of international law – in intentionally targeting civilians – by Palestinians in Gaza should be seen in the context of the media group’s consistent failure, per Ellis’s essay noted above, to hold Palestinians responsible for their destructive behavior.  

In reading the Guardian you’d almost be forgiven if you didn’t know that Hamas – the group ruling Gaza – rejects the existence of a Jewish state within any borders, indoctrinates its youth with a homicidal antisemitic ideology and is guided by a founding charter which cites the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as “proof” that Jews are trying to take over the world. 

Further, when Guardian approved ‘international development’ experts like Ellis assess social and economic problems in Gaza, but fail to factor in the injurious impact of Hamas’ extremist Islamist ideology, their misuse of development funds for terrorist tunnels and weapons manufacturing, and the tyranny they impose on women, gays, religious minorities and political dissidents, they deny readers the opportunity to understand the larger context of the current peace process.

Of course, the broader lessons of Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza and the ongoing terror emanating from the Strip may elude many on the Left, but are intuitive to most Israelis.  Polls in Israel which show overwhelming support for talks, support (in principle) for the creation of a Palestinian state, but which also demonstrate great skepticism that any such deal with Mahmoud Abbas will actually result in genuine peace, reflect painful lessons learned from their withdrawal from S. Lebanon, the terror spawned by Oslo and the Gaza pullout. 

The failure of many on the activist Left to passionately condemn Gaza terror, or even minimally hold Palestinian leaders responsible for current hostilities, tells a skeptical, war-weary Israeli public that if a pull-out from the West Bank were to result (as they fear) in an extremist government ruling Palestine, then such voices will similarly remain silent in the face of endless terror, and likely blame Israel for preventative and retaliatory measures necessitated by such attacks.

While even those putatively friendly to the Jewish state never tire in lecturing Israelis on the need of a two-state solution – which includes an often thinly veiled threat of unspecified consequences if they fail to make concessions they believe are necessary for peace – very few see fit to warn Palestinians of the consequences of the incitement, terror and antisemitism which permeates their society. 

As long Palestinian are not held accountable for behavior which is inimical to peace, and two-state advocates fail to take into account the previous failures of the ‘land for peace’ deals when discussing the current two-state formula, then Israelis will have little incentive to make the painful compromises always demanded of them by the often hubristic and morally sanctimonious ‘progressive voices‘ in the West.

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Did Mahmoud Abbas outrage Syria’s Palestinian refugees by waiving their right to live?

Mahmoud Abbas outrages Palestinian refugees by waiving his right to return‘ screamed the Guardian headline accompanying a November, 2012 report by Harriet Sherwood.  

header

Sherwood explained that Abbas was “facing widespread condemnation” in ‘Palestine’ and abroad “after he publicly waived his right of return” – a repudiation, she added, which is “of huge significance for Palestinian refugees”.

She then wrote the following:

After his image was burned in refugee camps in Gaza, Abbas rejected accusations that he had conceded one of the most emotional and visceral issues on the Palestinian agenda, the demand by millions of refugees to return to their former homes in what is now Israel.

He insisted that comments made in an interview with an Israeli television channel were selectively quoted and the remarks were his personal stance, rather than a change of policy.

Abbas told Channel 2 he accepted he had no right to live in Safed, the town of his birth, from which his family was forced to flee in 1948 when Abbas was 13.

The comments sparked protests in Gaza, where people in refugee camps burned images of the Palestinian president. Abbas was denounced on Twitter by pro-Palestinian activists.

This story came to mind when Elder of Ziyon reminded us of news a couple of months later (which the Guardian didn’t cover) that Abbas rejected Israel’s conditional agreement to allow thousands of Palestinian refugees from war-torn Syria to resettle in the West Bank and Gaza.

AP reported the following on Jan. 10, 2013:

The Palestinian president said he has rejected a conditional Israeli offer to let Palestinian refugees in war-torn Syria resettle in the West Bank and Gaza, charging it would compromise their claims to return to lost homes in Israel.

Abbas said he asked U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon last month to seek Israeli permission to bring Palestinians caught in Syria’s civil war to the Palestinian territories. The request came after fighting between Syrian troops and rebel fighters in Yarmouk, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria. About half of the camp’s 150,000 residents have fled, according to a U.N. aid agency.

Abbas told a group of Egyptian journalists in Cairo late Wednesday that Ban contacted Israel on his behalf.

Abbas said Ban was told Israel “agreed to the return of those refugees to Gaza and the West Bank, but on condition that each refugee … sign a statement that he doesn’t have the right of return (to Israel).”

Finally, AP noted Abbas’s chilling response:

So we rejected that and said it’s better they die in Syria than give up their right of return,” Abbas told the group.

Think about this for a moment.  

The Palestinian leader rejected a deal to save the lives of tens of thousands of Palestinians caught in an orgy of violence and deprivation in a neighboring country because they would (reportedly) have been forced to relinquish their ‘right of return’.  

According to Abbas’s own words, he’d rather let them die.

First, as we’ve demonstrated previously, the overwhelming majority of ‘Palestinian refugees’ aren’t even refugees but, rather, are the children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren of Palestinian Arabs who may have once lived in historic Palestine. (Indeed, the number of actual Palestinian refugees from the Arab-Israeli War who are still alive, out of the initial 710,000 or so, is estimated to be roughly 30,000.)

Additionally, everyone – including Abbas – of course knows that, in the event a final status agreement is reached between Israel and the Palestinians, Israel will, at most, only allow a few thousand Palestinian ‘refugees’ in total into Israel – as a symbolic gesture meant facilitate an end to the conflict.

So, here are two questions:

  1. Are Palestinians in Syria and throughout the Middle East – as well as their mouthpieces in the media - outraged by the fact that the Palestinian President decided that tens of thousands of Syrians of Palestinian descent should rather die than give up on the chimera that they will, one day, “return” to a land where they have never lived?
  2. Can anyone at this point refute the argument made at this blog and elsewhere that those keeping the ‘Palestinian refugee issue’ alive are engaged in a supremely cynical exercise meant to demonize Israel, and are not even remotely concerned with the actual welfare of Palestinian refugees and their descendants?

We’re not holding our breath for some sort of mea culpa from pro-Palestinian activists, but we can at least hope that those sympathetic to the cause of ‘Palestine’ will remember Abbas’s cold indifference to the lives of Syria’s Palestinians the next time he waxes eloquently on the plight of the ‘refugees’.

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On Jews & Nazis: The hateful tweets of Irish “journalist” Frank McDonald

FrankThis blog’s previous experience with Irish Times journalist Frank McDonald involved our success at prompting a correction at the paper last August to a false allegation he made concerning BDS.

Despite the correction, however, the Aug. 3rd story on renewed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations was slanted against Israel to such a degree that it truly could have been written by the Palestinian Ministry of Propaganda.

And, based on a series of recent Tweets by the “environmental journalist”, not only isn’t he too fond of Israel, but he’s not above engaging in ugly smears regarding the Jewish state’s alleged similitude with Nazism which are indistinguishable from what’s leveled by antisemitic extremists.

Indeed, among the most malevolent lies spread by anti-Zionists is that Israelis today are behaving like Nazi Germany did during the Holocaust.

There’s been much written about this insidious moral inversion – a charge made with varying degrees of explicitness recently by two British MPs –  but there are two dynamics worth noting, leaving aside for the moment that such charges are deemed antisemitic by the EUMC Working Definition on Antisemitism.

First, there is the suggestion – again, with varying degrees of explicitness – that Israel is engaging in genocide in Gaza.  This charge, as we demonstrated in a previous post (‘Are Jews the Most Incompetent Ethnic Cleansers on the Planet?), is so counter-factual that only those who possess a crippling hatred towards the Jewish state could even conceive of it.  

During the Shoah, half of Europe’s Jews (including 1.5 million children) were systematically exterminated by the Nazis.  

In Gaza, a blockade on weapons is being enforced by Israel to prevent the flow of rockets and other weapons from getting into the hands of Hamas, a group which launched thousands of such deadly projectiles at Israeli town over the years and is dedicated to the state’s destruction. The population of Gaza has increased from 82,000 in 1949 to more than 1.7 million today. 

Second, there is the moral inversion, in which a vocal minority of putatively liberal commentators see no moral difference between an Islamist extremist group whose founding charter calls for the mass murder of Jews, and the Jews who represent object of their immutable racism. Indeed, some have even convinced themselves that it is the Islamist extremist group which is the victim of Jewish aggression.

This brings us to the following Tweets by Frank McDonald.

The comparison between The Warsaw Ghetto is almost beyond comprehension, but a few facts need to be noted: in 1941 many Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto were limited to a diet of less than 200 calories a day, and in 1942 up to 5,000 Jews in the Ghetto were dying every month due to starvation. 

Not only is there no humanitarian crisis (yet alone starvation) in Gaza, but obesity has actually been a problem in the strip since at least the late 1990s.

However, in case you’re in any doubt as to whether McDonald believes that Israelis behave like Nazis, here’s one final Tweet – one of several which evoke the Holocaust that you can see on his Twitter feed over the past several days.

Of course, if post-Holocaust taboos against demonizing Jews were still the norm, the suggestion that Israeli Jews behave like Nazis would render the author of such a hateful invective politically toxic to the progressive journalistic community. 

But, we clearly don’t live in such a place.

Rather, the political realm we inhabit – a mere 69 years since the liberation of Auschwitz - allows for such odious charges in the name, often, of liberal, pro-Palestinian political commentary.

Leon Wieseltier, in The New Republic, made the following observation about those who demonize Israel and characterize its Jewish citizens as morally beyond the pale:

“A whole country and a whole people have been expelled from the realm of imaginative sympathy…there is a poison in the air.”

The  ideological toxins which inform the views of Frank McDonald will likely not be challenged by liberal left opinion leaders, and we can be all but certain that his editors at the Irish Times won’t blink an eye or even demand an explanation for his appalling racist smear of Israel’s six million Jews.

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Jonathan Miller unleashes five minute anti-Israel smear on Channel 4

Cross posted by London-based blogger Richard Millett

In a cunning twist to that famous Fawlty Towers scene when Basil Fawlty tries to not mention the war when serving German guests but fails, Channel 4 News journalist Jonathan Miller does his best to not mention the war and succeeds!

The war that would not pass Miller’s lips was the one of 1948 when Israel beat five Arab armies and more to establish its legal state. Whereas the putative Israelis accepted UN Resolution 181 (the Partition resolution) the Arab world rejected it hoping to inflict on Israel’s Jews a second Holocaust instead.

To add to the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust another 6,000 Jews needlessly lost their lives in that 1947-49 war.

Not that such history seems to be of much concern to Jonathan Miller.

In his five-minute piece on Gaza for Channel 4 News last night he shows Palestinians playing football. Miller describes how “teams are named after the home towns from which previous generations were cleansed 66 years ago”. In one match we are told “Jaffa are playing Ashkelon”.

So Miller reduces the 1947-49 conflict down to one malicious word: Cleansed. The Palestinians were not “cleansed”, but Jews are cast as evil-doers nevertheless.

Miller tells us that Hamas and Fatah supporters play on the same team. It’s very touching to see guys taking time out from planning another genocide of the Jewish people (see Hamas’ Charter) and inciting racial hatred against Jews (see PA/Fatah TV) to play a bit of footy. The vicious fight at the end between two players possibly betrays the existing hatred between these two factions.

Miller starts his piece to camera with the common slur that Israel is cruel to Palestinian children. We are introduced to Abdel Karim who has a brain tumour and who has suffered a relapse after his first operation. Miller explains:

“Abdul Karim’s lifesaving treatment was delayed because Israel refused permission for his mother to accompany him to Jerusalem. They had to reapply for his grandmother to go instead. The process took two months. The oncologist is sending him to Israel again. This time for radiotherapy.”

Miller doesn’t tell us that Israel suspects Abdul’s father and mother of involvement in terrorism. Miller clearly outlines this on the Channel 4 News website where he writes:

“Arafat al-Dalo is not permitted to enter Israel because he had once been shot in the leg by an Israeli high-velocity bullet. Arafat, who is a tailor by trade, insisted categorically that he was not a militant. He had got caught up in a shooting incident at a border crossing, he said.

Ghada thinks she was refused because one of her brothers had been shot dead in a clash with Israeli forces. This made him a “shahid”, a “martyr” in Palestine; in Israel, it made Ghada a suspect.”

So why was this left out of the Channel 4 News footage?

Miller finishes his piece to camera with this cynical and unsubstantiated allegation against Israel:

“Paediatricians here cite several cases in which permissions to cross into Israel have taken so long that very sick children have died waiting.”

Jews responsible for the deaths of children is a long-standing anti-Semitic slur.

Last night Miller tweeted that he isn’t anti-Semitic:

millerC4

What is truly shocking is Channel 4′s increasing attacks on Israel and the Jewish people.

Channel 4′s Dispatches Inside The Israel Lobby presented by Peter Oborne begins with Oborne’s ominous words:

“Tonight on Dispatches how British policy is influenced by supporters of a foreign power…We investigate the Israel Lobby’s bankrolling of British politicians.”

That’s another long-standing anti-Semitic slur of Jews using money and power for nefarious reasons.

Sadly, Oborne is allowed to continue plying his vile trade in spurious allegations against Israel and its supporters for the Daily Telegraph (here and here).

Channel 4 also showed Peter Kosminky’s The Promise which ended with the words of a British soldier:

“After Bergen-Belsen, I thought that the Jews deserved a state, but now I’m not so sure…Their precious state has been born in violence and cruelty to its neighbours, and I’m not sure I want it to prosper…”

Channel 4 also broadcast Going for Gold in Gaza about disabled Palestinians training for the Paralympics. One Palestinian described in Arabic how he was able to rehabilitate himself at Israeli hospitals after the accident that left him disabled, but the word “Israeli” was suspiciously left out of the subtitles.

Finally, there was the time that Jon Snow, Channel 4′s main news presenter, lunged at me when I questioned him about his persistent use of the term “the Jewish lobby”.

Feel free to complain to OFCOM about Miller’s piece if you don’t want Miller to get away with it. Write to ofcomstandardsteam@ofcom.org.uk but you must mention the date and time of the programme: Channel 4 News at 7pm on 18th February.

And here is that famous “Don’t mention the War” scene from Fawlty Towers. Instead of Basil Fawlty, think Jonathan Miller.

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A Harriet Sherwood tale of Palestinian love and Israeli darkness

Harriet Sherwood doesn’t like Israelis very much.

Though she at times remembers her professional obligations as a journalist and attempts to achieve a bit of balance, in the three and half years she’s occupied the Guardian’s Jerusalem desk she’s never effectively hidden her pro-Palestinian sympathies, nor her immutable belief that the sole cause of the Israeli and Palestinians Conflict relates to blockades, settlements, and occupation.  So, consuming is her belief in the invisible hand of Zionist oppression that she once even suggested that Israeli policies were responsible for a Gaza man’s suicide.

Though she’ll soon be stepping down as Jerusalem correspondent – to be replaced by the paper’s foreign affairs editor Peter Beaumont – she’s still firing a few parting shots at the Jewish State. Her farewell stories have included a love letter to the people of Gaza and, most recently, a nearly 4000 word story about the toll of the ‘occupation’ which is so one-sided as to be indistinguishable from the propaganda associated with Palestinian Solidarity Campaign.

palestine

Here are some representative passages from Sherwood’s public relations work for the Palestinian cause published at the Guardian on Feb. 8:

Sherwood:

…in the southern West Bank, 12-year-old Nawal Jabarin lives in a cave. She was born in the gloom beneath its low, jagged roof, as were two of her brothers, and her father a generation earlier. Along the rock-strewn track that connects Jinba to the nearest paved road, Nawal’s mother gave birth to another baby, unable to reach hospital in time; on the same stretch of flattened earth, Nawal’s father was beaten by Israeli settlers in front of the terrified child.

Even home is not safe. “The soldiers come in [the cave] to search. I don’t know what they’re looking for,” she says. “Sometimes they open the pens and let the sheep out. In Ramadan, they came and took my brothers. I saw the soldiers beat them with the heel of their guns. They forced us to leave the cave

This alleged comic book cruelty by Israeli forces is of course impossible to verify, though it’s interesting that the only other account of the Jabarin brothers being beaten we could find was a ‘report’ on the website of the International Solidarity Campaign.

Sherwood: 

The first generation – Nawal’s parents and their peers – are now approaching middle age, their entire lives dominated by the daily grind and small humiliations of an occupied people. Around four million Palestinians have known nothing but an existence defined by checkpoints, demands for identity papers, night raids, detentions, house demolitions, displacement, verbal abuse, intimidation, physical attacks, imprisonment and violent death. It is a cruel mosaic: countless seemingly unrelated fragments that, when put together, build a picture of power and powerlessness

Of course, in nearly every report she files, Sherwood tries to build a picture of Israeli power and Palestinian powerlessness in a manner consistent with the Guardian Left narrative.

Sherwood:

In the South Hebron Hills, the shepherds who have roamed the area for generations now live alongside ideologically and religiously driven Jews who claim an ancient biblical connection to the land and see the Palestinians as interlopers. They have built gated settlements on the hilltops, serviced with paved roads, electricity and running water, and protected by the army. The settlers and soldiers have brought fear to the cave-dwellers: violent attacks on the local Palestinian population are frequent, along with military raids and the constant threat of forcible removal from their land

The gratuitous evocation of “settlers and soldiers” inspiring fear in Palestinian “cave dwellers” befits a fairy tale – a facile moral paradigm which suggests parody.

Sherwood:

Like Nawal, 12-year-old Ahed Tamimi boldly asserts that she, too, has no fear of soldiers, before quietly admitting that sometimes she is afraid. Ahed’s apparent fearlessness catapulted her to a brief fame a year ago when a video of her angrily confronting Israeli soldiers was posted online. The girl was invited to Turkey, where she was hailed as a child hero.

Sherwood’s tribute to Ahed, the young girl cynically exploited by her parents and pro-Palestinian activists for propaganda purposes, is classic Guardian.  See the following video about Tamimi (dubbed “Shirley Temper”) produced by Israellycool:

Sherwood:

Amid tree-covered hills almost three hours’ drive north of Jinba, Nabi Saleh is a village of around 500 people, most of whom share the family name of Tamimi

Sherwood fails to mention the most notorious resident of Nabi Saleh, Ahlam Tamimi, the Palestinian who escorted a suicide bomber to a crowded Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem in 2001. The resulting massacre when the bomb exploded left fifteen people dead, including Malki Roth, the daughter of Arnold and Frimet Roth, who was only fifteen years old at the time.

http://commentisfreewatch.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/sbarro-bombing.jpg?w=544&h=388

Aftermath of Jerusalem Sbarro bombing in 2001

Sherwood:

When settlers appropriated the village spring five years ago, the people of Nabi Saleh began weekly protests. Ahed’s parents, Bassem and Nariman, have been at the forefront of the demonstrations, which are largely nonviolent, although they often involve some stone-throwing

Sherwood fails to tell readers that Palestinian coordinators of the protests often instruct Palestinians teens as young as 14 to throw rocks at police, and that the weekly orchestrated violence includes Molotov cocktails and other explosive devices routinely thrown at Israeli security personnel. 

Sherwood:

Nowhere in the West Bank do Israeli settlers and Palestinians live in closer proximity or with greater animosity than in Hebron. A few hundred biblically inspired Jews reside in the heart of the ancient city, protected by around 4,000 soldiers, amid a Palestinian population of 170,000. 

Hebron is the oldest Jewish community in the world. Jews have lived in Hebron almost continuously throughout the Byzantine, Arab, Mameluke, and Ottoman periods, and it was only in 1929 — as a result of an Arab pogrom in which 67 Jews were murdered and the remainder forced to flee — that the city became temporarily free of Jews. Under Jordanian control from 1949 to 1967 Jews not only were forbidden to live in Hebron but were barred from entering the Tomb of the Patriarchs, while authorities undertook a systematic campaign to obliterate any evidence of Jewish history in the city. Shortly following Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War, the Jewish community of Hebron was re-established, and Israelis live there today in accordance to the terms of the 1997 Hebron Agreement signed by the Palestinian Authority.

Sherwood:

[A Palestinian named] Muslim, now 14, is well-known to the Israeli security forces in the East Jerusalem district of Silwan. A few minutes’ drive from the five-star hotels around the ancient walls of Jerusalem’s Old City, Silwan is wedged in a gulley, a dense jumble of houses along steep and narrow streets lined with car repair workshops and tired grocery stores.

It has always been a tough neighbourhood, but an influx of hardline settlers has created acute tensions, exacerbated by the aggression of their private armed security guards and demolition orders against more than 80 Palestinian homes. The area’s youths throw stones and rocks at the settlers’ reinforced vehicles, risking arrest by the ever-present police.

Jewish residents in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah are in fact often attacked without cause.

A Jewish Israeli friendly with this writer named Yaacov was stoned by Palestinians outside of his Sheikh Jarrah  home in 2011

Sherwood:

Mousa describes his own detention while trying to prevent the police arresting his son. “They carried me in my underwear from here to the Russian Compound [a cell and court complex in central Jerusalem]. Can you imagine more humiliation than this? We are religious people – we don’t even let our children see us without clothes. If you gave me a million dollars, I would not go outside in my underwear.”

Of course, anyone even casually aware of Palestinian on Palestinian violence can likely conjure a scenario more cruel than being arrested in your underwear:

hamas-body-drag

2012: Hamas drags body of Palestinian (after he was summarily executed for ‘treason’) through the streets of Gaza

Finally, here are few quick stats about Sherwood’s piece, highlighting the degree to which it is devoid of any semblance of fairness or balance:

The total number of paragraphs in the report: 55

  • Number of paragraphs devoted to the Palestinian view or clearly sympathetic to Palestinians: 55
  • Number of paragraphs devoted to the Israeli view or clearly sympathetic to Israelis: 0

Even by Guardian standards, Sherwood’s latest pro-Palestinian advocacy marketed as professional journalism is especially appalling. 

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Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi apologises for comparing Gaza to the Holocaust.

Cross posted by London based blogger Richard Millett

Well done, Tal Ofer! After I reported on Thursday that during Wednesday’s parliamentary debate on Gaza Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi had compared the situation of the Palestinians in Gaza to that of Jews living in Nazi Germany Labour Party activist Ofer immediately reported her remarks to Labour’s HQ and brought it to the attention of the media generally.

Qureshi had said:

“What has struck me in all this is that the state of Israel was founded because of what happened to the millions and millions of Jews who suffered genocide. Their properties, homes and land—everything—were taken away, and they were deprived of rights. Of course, many millions perished. It is quite strange that some of the people who are running the state of Israel seem to be quite complacent and happy to allow the same to happen in Gaza.”

You cannot get more offensive to the few remaining Holocaust survivors and to those who lost loved ones in Auschwitz, Belsen etc.

Gaza is no Belsen. And the suffering in Gaza is at the behest of Islamist-terror organisation Hamas which is happy to oppress its own people so that useful idiots in the West will blame Israel.

The response to Qureshi’s remarks from the Labour Party itself was an utter disgrace:

“These remarks were taken completely out of context. Yasmin Qureshi was not equating events in Gaza with the Holocaust. As an MP who has visited Auschwitz and has campaigned all her life against racism and anti-Semitism she would not do so.”

However, soon after, Qureshi must have had a pang of conscience and came out with this apology:

“The debate was about the plight of the Palestinian people and in no way did I mean to equate events in Gaza with the Holocaust. I apologise for any offence caused. I am also personally hurt if people thought I meant this. As someone who has visited the crematoria and gas chambers of Auschwitz I know the Holocaust was the most brutal act of genocide of the 20th Century and no-one should seek to underestimate its impact.”

So Qureshi is “personally hurt”? Poor her. Not as “personally hurt” as those who were in Auschwitz or Belsen etc or lost family there.

But let’s all feel sorry for Qureshi instead!

It is also pretty frustrating that Labour List’s Mark Ferguson thinks “Qureshi’s apology should draw a line under this, and rightly so. If there was no intention to cause offence or equate events in Gaza with the Holocaust I am happy to accept that.”

How can there have been “no intention”? Her words are 100% clear. There is no nuance!

And then what does Ferguson think of Gerald Kaufman MP’s words about Israelis?:

“Go to Tel Aviv, as I did not long ago, and watch them sitting complacently outside their pavement cafés. They do not give a damn about their fellow human beings perhaps half an hour away.”

The remainder of Qureshi’s speech was also disgraceful, especially the way she frames Jews solely by religion. She said, referring indirectly to Kaufman:

“I want to praise the people in Israel and the Jewish people in this country who campaign actively for the rights of Palestinians. Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton, I am sure that they are criticised by other Jewish people perhaps for trying to betray the state of Israel”.

But the likes of Kaufman are criticised not just by “Jewish people” but people of all religions and none. It is this division of Jews into “good Jew/bad Jew” that is almost tantamount to inciting racial hatred.

Meanwhile, these Holocaust comparisons are slowly, slowly becoming the norm.

American Professor Joel Beinin told a student audience at SOAS recently that Israel is putting the Bedouin into “concentration camps” and at a recent War On Want talk at SOAS students were told that the Palestinians are living in “apartheid ghettos”.

Thanks to the rhetoric of Beinin, Qureshi, War On Want and others Israeli Jews (and, by extension, any Jew that supports Israel) are slowly becoming thought of as Nazis.

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A day of anti-Israel hatred and Holocaust trivialisation in Parliament.

Cross posted by London based blogger Richard Millett

Ismail Patel, Yasmin Qureshi MP, Megan Driscoll, Linda Ramsden in Parliament .

Ismail Patel, Yasmin Qureshi MP, Megan Driscoll, Linda Ramsden in Parliament .

“It was supposed to be Never Again” declared Ismail Patel but the Palestinians in East Jerusalem, he said, are “oppressed”, undergoing “ethnic cleansing” and suffering a “genocide”.

Patel, Chair of Friends of Al Aqsa, was speaking in the Grimmond Room of Britain’s Houses of Parliament last night at an event to launch his organisation’s “Jerusalem Report” which focuses on “Protecting Palestinian Citizenship Rights in East Jerusalem.”

According to Megan Driscoll, Advocacy Officer at Coalition for Jerusalem (based in Jerusalem), who spoke first, Israel’s “Jerusalem Masterplan” is to secure the Jewish majority in the city.

Driscoll said that the Palestinian population there is currently 34% and that Israel’s aim is to drive this down to 30% and probably lower.

The way Israel is doing this, she continued, is through “residency revocation” which makes Jerusalem Palestinians “stateless”.

Driscoll said Israel revokes residency if Palestinians have lived abroad for more than seven years or have taken citizenship in another country.

She said there is also a Jerusalem “centre of life” test that Palestinians must pass. This, she said, is so stringent that even Palestinians still living in Jerusalem have not been able to prove such centrality and have lost their residency rights.

Driscoll claimed that since 1967 there have been over 14,000 such “residency revocations”. She referred to this as the “Quiet Deportation” and said it was successful because instead of being “mass collective punishment” it received less attention in the media because it was executed against individuals and families.

Linda Ramsden, Director of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, said that Israel’s “policy of displacement began in 1948 when 530 Palestinian villages were demolished and 750,000 Palestinians made refugees”.

She described how most Palestinians applying for building permits are refused because they cannot prove ownership of land due to a lack of documents (does it not occur to Ramsden that maybe, just maybe, they do not own the land in question?).

Ramsden said that once a house is built without a permit a Palestinian family will suffer from stress worrying which day their home will be demolished. She said this causes a lot of “stress related illness”.

When a house is due to be demolished, she continued, hundreds of police and dogs arrive which, she said, is “very frightening”. Bulldozers are used for the demolition and pneumatic drills destroy the base of the house.

She claimed the families are fined and sent a bill for the demolition and that some Palestinians demolish their own homes to avoid these “horrendous costs”.

Meanwhile, last night’s event was hosted and chaired by the Labour MP for Bolton South-East Yasmin Qureshi. Qureshi was fresh from the House of Commons debate that afternoon on the situation in Gaza.

Qureshi is very quietly spoken but the words that come out of her mouth are pure poison where Israel is concerned. If one thinks that Ismail Patel’s application of the term “Never Again” to the Palestinians was bad enough, Qureshi’s Holocaust minimization is more shocking.

Here is what she said in yesterday’s Parliamentary debate:

“What has struck me in all this is that the state of Israel was founded because of what happened to the millions and millions of Jews who suffered genocide. Their properties, homes and land—everything—were taken away, and they were deprived of rights. Of course, many millions perished. It is quite strange that some of the people who are running the state of Israel seem to be quite complacent and happy to allow the same to happen in Gaza.” (my emphasis)

This followed Labour MP Gerald Kaufman’s attack on ALL Israelis in the same debate:

“Again and again, Israel seeks to justify the vile injustices that it imposes on the people of Gaza and the west bank on the grounds of the holocaust. Last week, we commemorated the holocaust; 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza are being penalised with that as the justification…It is totally unacceptable that the Israelis should behave in such a way, but they do not care. Go to Tel Aviv, as I did not long ago, and watch them sitting complacently outside their pavement cafés. They do not give a damn about their fellow human beings perhaps half an hour away.” (my emphasis)

This is how Britain’s Parliament is sometimes so abused. While innocent Syrians are being murdered and left permanently disabled by barrel bombs dropped out of the sky by Assad’s forces certain MPs are offensive about Israel, Israelis and the Holocaust instead.

While Kaufman voted against any intervention in Syria, Qureshi couldn’t even be bothered to turn up to that vote last August!

Last night’s event launching the “Jerusalem Report” was sold out but due to the strike on the London underground not many people could get there.

It must be galling that when so much effort has been put into producing an evening of hatred, lies and Holocaust minimization so few people are there to appreciate your efforts.

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More on Harriet Sherwood’s love letter to the “miraculous” people of Gaza

We posted recently about a 3200 word love letter to the people of Gaza by departing Guardian Jerusalem correspondent Harriet Sherwood – a farewell report which “paid tribute to the resilience, creativity and humour of its people… despite their adverse circumstances and repeated setbacks”.

The moral pass given to the extremist antisemitic movement ruling Gaza by Sherwood – reflecting the paper’s proclivity to frame even most malevolent Palestinian political actors in a sympathetic light - was evident in the following passage:

I arrived eager to learn more about what is frequently called the world’s most intractable conflict, and to try to understand the powerful feelings of historical injustice on both sides. I am leaving angry about an occupation that has lasted close to half a century, weary of Israel’s grinding oppression of the Palestinian people, cynical about the political leadership on both sides and in the international community, and pessimistic that a fair resolution will be reached.

Well, it turns out that the print edition of The Observer (sister publication of the Guardian) published additional content related to Sherwood’s apologia, one which included a simply risible headline:

miracle

Observer, Jan. 25, page 16

First, the misinformation in these “facts” about the “miracle” of Gaza is significant.

  • Electricity and Fuel: Even Palestinians are blaming Hamas for the fuel shortage – and related power outages – which was largely caused by the Islamist group’s decision not to pay for fuel from the open market, but instead rely on taxes gained from the illegal transfer of cheaper fuel through tunnels.  These elaborate and extremely expensive underground structures have been largely closed down (by both Israel and Egypt) due to Hamas’s decision to utilize these ‘humanitarian’ tunnels for weapons smuggling and other terrorist uses
  • Construction: Again, Sherwood fails to reveal that the export of most construction material to Gaza was (temporarily) suspended only after the IDF uncovered the terrorist tunnels Hamas was using to transfer deadly weapons, and plan terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians. Prior to these restrictions, construction materials for both UN projects and private contractors were being imported into the territory.   
  • Imports: Again, Hamas was using the tunnels to not only import “cheaper” consumer goods, but to import deadly weapons and plan terror attacks. (Additionally, every month, Israel oversees the transfer of roughly thousands of trucks of goods into Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing – supplies which include food, humanitarian products, medical supplies and electrical products.)
  • Exports: Sherwood again misleads, as she fails to note that Gaza exports over 50 truckloads of goods each month to mostly European markets – goods which includes fruit, spices and flowers.
  • Exit: Sherwood fails to note that, in addition to the pedestrian crossings into Egypt, between 4,000 and 5,000 Gazans are given permits each month to enter into Israel. A large percentage of these Palestinians are allowed into Israel to get medical treatment at Israeli hospitals.
  • Rockets: Remarkably, the number cited by Sherwood is actually HIGHER than what was reported by the Israeli Security Agency. According to figures released by the ISA, there were 74 rockets and mortars fired into Israel from Gaza in 2013.

Additionally, Sherwood failed to note that Gazans receive a large percentage of the roughly $2.4 billion that the Palestinians (in both Gaza and the W. Bank) receive annually in international aid, making Palestinians the third largest recipient of aid in the world.

Beyond the misleading nature of Sherwood’s specific claims, the decision (presumably by Guardian editors) to use the word “miraculous” to describe Gaza’s survival is a great illustration of the fetishization of Palestinians continually on display in their reports and commentaries, most which lack the critical scrutiny that Israelis are typically subjected to.  A more sober assessment of Gaza since Israel’s withdrawal in 2005 would surely evoke Abba Ebban’s dismay over Palestinians’ tendency to “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”.  

When the last Israeli soldiers left Gaza, Palestinian Arabs were free of ‘occupation’ for the first time in their history, yet didn’t respond by working towards the development of democratic norms and the promotion of economic growth and social progress.  Instead, they elected a reactionary, extremist and ideologically antisemitic religious movement whose primary focus was inculcating Palestinians with hatred towards Jews, and ridding the region of the Zionist entity.

Gazans’ economic woes – exaggerated, though they are – can be directly attributed to their destructive decision during the 2006 legislative elections, and they will only know true freedom and real economic prosperity when they figure out how to free themselves from the yoke of Islamist fanatics who speak in their name. 

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Goodbye, Harriet Sherwood: Three years covering Gaza and no lessons learned.

Harriet Sherwood’s latest 3200 word report, Goodbye Gaza, accurately reflects the Guardian’s unwritten ideological ‘style guide’ which seems to dictate that even the most malevolent Palestinian political actors are framed in a sympathetic light.  “With a heavy heart”, the strap line begins, Sherwood “pays a farewell visit to Gaza and pays tribute to the resilience, creativity and humour of its people.”

gaza gloom

Photo from print edition of her recent report

After a few paragraphs in which we’re introduced to her Guardian stringer, Hazem Balousha (who played a key role in Jon Donnison’s infamous fauxtography scandal in 2012), Sherwood, who recently announced her departure from Jerusalem, engages in characteristic obfuscations concerning Hamas:

The people of Gaza are reeling from a series of blows that have led some analysts to say that it is facing its worst crisis for more than six years, putting its 1.7 million inhabitants under intense material and psychological pressure. Israel’s continued blockade has been exacerbated by mounting hostility to Gaza’s Hamas government from the military regime in Cairo, which sees it as an extension of Egypt’s deposed Muslim Brotherhood. The Egyptians have virtually cut off access to and from Gaza, and as a result Hamas is facing crippling financial problems and a new political isolation.

Power cuts, fuel shortages, price rises, job losses, Israeli air strikes, untreated sewage in the streets and the sea, internal political repression, the near-impossibility of leaving, the lack of hope or horizon – these have chipped away at the resilience and fortitude of Gazans, crushing their spirit.

First, as a report at the Algemeiner by Elder of Ziyon demonstrated, “the current Gaza fuel crisis started when Hamas decided in 2011 that it didn’t want fuel from Israel and instead chose to run Gaza’s power plant with Egyptian fuel, sold by smugglers at lower prices that reflected the subsidy that Egypt provides”. When the Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood lost power, the tunnels were closed and Hamas lost its source of cheap fuel. However, instead of paying market prices, Hamas cynically chose to shut down the power plants, causing a crisis as water treatment plants shut off. Qatar then offered to transfer to Hamas large amounts of fuel which it held in storage tanks in Egypt, and Israel agreed to transport Qatari oil from Israel, after unloading it in Ashdod. However, Palestinians objected to both of these proposals.

Yet, Sherwood assigns no blame to Hamas for the Gaza fuel shortages she describes.

Further in her report, Sherwood gives a broader view of Gaza and her coverage of the region since 2010.

This was my last visit to Gaza before returning to London to live and work. I moved to Jerusalem in May 2010, to report principally on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also social and cultural issues and the regional upheavals that erupted three years ago. Since I first came here almost 10 years ago, I had been fascinated by the place, its people, its history and its compelling complexity.

I arrived eager to learn more about what is frequently called the world’s most intractable conflict, and to try to understand the powerful feelings of historical injustice on both sides. I am leaving angry about an occupation that has lasted close to half a century, weary of Israel’s grinding oppression of the Palestinian people, cynical about the political leadership on both sides and in the international community, and pessimistic that a fair resolution will be reached.

Again, note how, other than her criticism of “political leadership on both sides”, Sherwood’s concluding assessment of the conflict singles out Israeli “occupation” and “oppression”, but leaves Hamas unscathed.

Later, reporting on the crossings between Israel and Gaza, Sherwood writes the following:

…the vast hangar-like terminal on the Israeli side echoes to the footsteps of these few, plus a tiny number of Palestinians, nearly all of whom are going to or returning from business trips or hospital visits

According to figuresreleased regularly by COGAT, about 400 Gazans are permitted to travel (for various reasons) into Israel each day through the Erez crossing. This number includes an estimated 100 Palestinians (and family members) who enter Israel for medical care each day – hardly a “tiny” number.

Further along in her report, there are the following passages detailing the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza which again aptly illustrate Sherwood’s failure to hold Hamas morally accountable for their decisions:

Fourteen months after that mini-war [Operation Pillar of Defense], on this last visit, Hazem and I talked of the hope – now long faded – that swept Gaza when the Israeli army and Jewish settlers pulled out in 2005. The sense of liberation at the time, and the dream that Gazans might be free to determine their own future, and become a model of a future state of Palestine, was swiftly dashed on the rocks of Israel’s political actions and military operations, and the rise of Hamas.

Of course, Sherwood’s prose characteristically blurs cause and effect, obfuscating the plain fact that Israel’s military actions followed the rise of Hamas – particularly the Islamist group’s decision to focus its energies (and limited funds) not on economic development, but on the production and importation of thousands of rockets to launch attacks against Israeli communities, and on hate indoctrination of their youth against ‘the Zionist entity‘.  

Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hammad speaks to graduates of the organization's youth camps in Gaza, calling on them to annihilate Israel and take their struggle across the world. (screen capture: MEMRI)

Jan. 15, 2014: Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hammad speaks to graduates of the organization’s youth camps in Gaza, calling on them to annihilate Israel and take their struggle across the world. 

Sherwood also all but ignores Hamas’s decision to spend millions of dollars on terrorist tunnels, funds which could have been spent on infrastructure projects and other vital social needs.

Indeed, the closest Sherwood comes to blaming Hamas for the plight of Palestinian in the territory is her brief mention of the “continued political enmity between Hamas and Fatah”. And, though she laments “grieving [Palestinian] mothers who expressed fervent hope that their infant sons would grow up to avenge their dead fathers or siblings by killing Jewish children”, she contextualized such a disturbing dynamic as “a profoundly depressing illustration of the cycle of violence here”.

Near the end of her story, Sherwood does allow one Palestinian to express criticism of the Islamist group governing the territory:

Mkhaimer Abusada, professor of political science at Gaza’s Al Azhar university old me over sweet mint tea. “But we are very afraid. Hamas does not allow any protests, any opposition. We’re sick and tired of Hamas, but we don’t have an alternative.

Though, the despotic regime in control of Gaza does indeed limit Palestinian options, they did have the ability to make a very important decision about their future following Israel’s unilateral disengagement in September 2005. In January 2006, Palestinian legislative elections were held and Hamas took 44.45% of the vote, whilst Fatah received 41.43%.  One of the only ‘moderate’ factions running, Salam Fayyad’s Third Way Party, garnered a mere 2.5%.

Alternately, it’s is quite telling that when Israelis are poised to make decisions considered injurious to the peace process, Guardian journalists aren’t nearly as circumspect in rendering moral judgments.  In the weeks leading to Israel’s Jan. 2013 national elections, Sherwood (and Guardian journalists across the board) were warning that the new government would represent a move far to the far right, with some even suggesting that the 33rd Israeli government would be “the most right-wing government in its history”, an alleged rightward lurch which Sherwood cautioned was resulting in the state’s increasing international isolation. 

As we know now, the Guardian got it wrong and, in fact, a more centrist government emerged from the elections, one which has engaged in serious peace negotiations with the Palestinians – though their warnings and castigations about the injurious effects of Israeli “provocations” such as building homes in eastern Jerusalem continues.

Alternately, there seems to be no degree of Palestinian pathos which elicits similarly ominous warnings by Sherwood, or others at the Guardian, about the inevitable negative consequences of freely choosing such dangerous paths.  When free of Israeli occupation, and given the freedom to vote in relatively fair elections, a plurality of Palestinian voters cast their lot with an extremist movement – ostracized by the West – which oppresses women, gays, religious minorities and political opponents, and openly calls for Israel’s destruction and the mass murder of Jews.

Palestinians will never learn the most intuitive lessons from their self-destructive embrace of extremism - and other similarly dangerous political decisions – as long as they’re continually denied moral agency by assorted liberal racists, faux humanitarians and activist journalists like Harriet Sherwood.

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