Economist is latest media outlet to falsely claim the 3 kidnapped teens are ‘settlers’

An article in the print edition of the Economist on June 21 titled ‘Stirring Bad Blood‘ included false claims in the opening and final sentences.

Here’s the first sentence of the anonymous report:

THE abduction of three young Jewish settlers on June 12th near the city of Hebron, in the south of the West Bank, has stirred Israeli emotions as viscerally as the kidnapping of a young Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, by militants of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement, eight years ago. 

However, as we noted in a post on June 16th (and noted elsewhere), two of the three teens are not settlers, a fact which, when pointed out to Guardian editors, resulted in a correction to their own false claim about the location of the Israeli teens’ homes. (The Indy, at our prompting, also corrected their false claim that all three teens were settlers.)

Additionally, the Economist article includes this claim in the final sentence:

A Facebook page posted by an Israeli calling for the execution of one Palestinian prisoner every hour until the young hostages were freed quickly attracted 17,000 likes.

However, as an accurate translation of the Hebrew on the Facebook page clearly indicates, the words “Palestinian” or “prisoner” are not present – a fact which prompted Guardian editors to improve their original faulty translation of the page in an article by Orlando Crowcroft on June 17th.

Here’s the correct translation of the Facebook page:

‘Until the teens are returned, every hour we shoot a terrorist.

We’ve been in touch with Economist editors over these errors and will update you when we receive a response.

‘Comment is Free’ contributor Abdel al-Bari Atwan sympathizes with Osama Bin Laden

Abdel al-Bari Atwan is the editor-in chief of the London-based Arab newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi, and has been named among the 50 ‘most influential Arabs’ by Middle East Magazine.  His pro-Palestinian, anti-Zionist politics can be best summed up by his fanciful boast a few years ago that he would dance in the streets in London’s Trafalgar Square if Iranian nuclear missiles were to hit Tel Aviv.


In fact, Atwan’s satisfaction when contemplating the murder of Jews wasn’t theoretical, and certainly was not a one-off.  

In March 2008, for instance, Atwan said that the Mercaz HaRav Jerusalem terrorist attack, in which a Palestinian gunmen murdered eight students (aged 15 to 26), was “justified”, and that the celebrations in Gaza following the attack symbolized “the courage of the Palestinian nation”.  Atwan also praised the 2011 Palestinian terror attack on civilians in southern Israel which resulted in 8 dead and 25 injured, and was even critical of Mahmoud Abbas’s recent condemnation of the abduction of Israeli soldiers, in an essay which praised Hamas for its achievement in releasing over 1,000 prisoners as part of the Gilad Shalit deal.

As my colleague Hadar Sela recently noted, Atwan is regular guest on BBC’s Newsnight. He is also, unsurprisingly, a frequent contributor to ‘Comment is Free’ – having penned 12 essays at the Guardian blog over the past two years.

Most recently, MEMRI reported, Atwan told Egypt’s Channel 2 on June 2nd that Osama Bin Laden was only “half a terrorist,” since his organization’s attacks against American forces in Saudi Arabia could not be considered terrorism, before adding:

If you support the Palestinian resistance, you do not consider [Bin Laden’s attacks] terrorism. But if you are with America, Europe, and Israel, you do consider it terrorism…It depends on your definition of terrorism.

Here’s the video:

According to Atwan, who in 2010 characterized the late al-Qaeda leader a “great man“, the question of whether or not Bin Laden was in fact a “terrorist” depends on your definition of the term.

Sound familiar?

As we’ve reported on multiple occasions, ‘Comment is Free’ correspondent Glenn Greenwald has advanced similar arguments, alternately decrying the “meaninglessness” of the word, suggesting that the term is ‘racially loaded’ and that it typically represents rhetorical propaganda exploited by the U.S. to justify ‘state violence’ against Muslims. 

However, lost in the “debate” about whether fanatics like Bin Laden are terrorists is the much more important truth regarding the ideology which inspires their tactic of terror.  The West opposes al-Qaeda, and other Islamist extremist groups, not merely because they support the use of violence against innocent civilians, but also due to the fact that their political objectives include replacing liberal, democratic governments with Taliban-style tyrannical regimes antithetical to democracy, religious pluralism, gender equality, and sexual freedom.

Terrorism, for al-Qaeda and like-minded jihadists around the globe, represents merely a ‘strategy’ in their dangerously reactionary political crusade. 

As those like Atwan and Greenwald continue to engage in such cynicism and sophistry – in an attempt to make us debate the narrow question of the meaning of the term “terrorism” – it’s vital to remember that we fight such enemies not solely due to the extremist (terrorist) methods they employ, but because their political vision is diametrically opposed to the progressive values we cherish.

The Indy’s Alistair Dawber whitewashes terrorist crimes of Samer Issawi

An April 23 story in The Independent, written by the paper’s Jerusalem correspondent Alistair Dawber, entitled Palestinian prisoner gives up 250 day hunger strike after deal with Israel, begins with a photo of the joyful parents of the convicted Palestinian terrorist in question, Samer Issawi, celebrating their son’s decision to end his hunger strike.


Dawber begins his story thusly:

One of the most high profile Palestinian prisoners being held by Israel has put an end to a 250-day hunger strike after reaching a deal with the Jewish state that will see him serve another eight months in jail.

Samer Issawi was sustained by vitamins and other supplements throughout his protest during which time he refused regular food and turned down a proposal to exile him. His cause has been taken up enthusiastically by Palestinians, many of whom consider the so-called security prisoners as national heroes. Throughout the West Bank and Gaza, several people have been seen wearing T-shirts emblazoned with Issawi’s face.

Dawber is correct that Palestinians and their political leaders routinely characterize even the most malevolent  terrorists in a manner which would lead some to believe they are civil rights martyrs and not cold-blooded killers – a disturbing dynamic which Palestinian Media Watch demonstrates continually.

In fact, some of the runners in the Palestinian Marathon on April 21 wore Samer Issawi t-shirts.

Palestine Marathon, Bethlehem, West Bank, 21.4.2013

Marathon runner on the left seen wearing Samer Issawi t-shirt

Additionally, the “so-called” security prisoners cum “national heroes” Dawber is referring to are the more than 4,800 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails who have been convicted of serious violent crimes, and include the following:

  • Masterminds who ‘organized’ terror attacks which killed Israelis
  • ‘Specialists’ who prepared the explosives used during such deadly attacks
  • Recruiters of suicide bombers
  • Senior members of terrorist Palestinian organizations

Further in the story, Dawber provides a bit of background on the hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner. 

Issawi, 32, was initially sentenced to 30 years in 2002 for, according to Israel, making pipe bombs during the Second Intifada, or Palestinian uprising. He was released in 2011 as part of the deal to release the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was freed by Hamas after five years being held in Gaza. Issawi was one of 1,027 Palestinians to be freed as part of the deal.

However, Issawi didn’t merely make pipe bombs.

Per Capt. Eytan Buchman, an IDF spokesman, as reported by CAMERA:

Issawi was convicted of multiple crimes which included five counts of attempted murder. This included four shootings, between July 2001 and February 2002, in which Issawi and his accomplices fired an AK-47 on police cars and buses travelling between Ma’ale Adumim and Jerusalem. In one attack, a policeman was injured and required surgery. On October 30, 2001, Issawi, together with an accomplice, fired at two students walking from the Hebrew University campus to their car in a nearby parking lot. In another case, Issawi provided guns and explosive devices to a terror squad, which then fired on a bus. Finally, in December 2001, Issawi ordered an attack on security personnel at Hebrew University, providing a terror squad with a pistol and a pipe bomb. Two of the squad members tracked security personnel but didn’t carry out the attack.

Issawi didn’t play merely a ‘supporting role’ in terror attacks, but, rather, was directly responsible for firing an automatic weapon at innocent Israeli civilians with the hope of murdering as many of them as possible – and was responsible for ordering additional lethal attacks on other Israelis.

Remarkably, even an AP story published on April 23 in the Guardian about the end of the Palestinian’s hunger strike included information on Issawi’s attempted murder of Israeli students at Hebrew University – a telling fact, and one which places Alistair Dawber whitewash of the terrorist’s crimes in even clearer context.     

Who’s the most bigoted Guardian or ‘Comment is Free’ contributor?

The Guardian published a relatively humorous April Fool’s story yesterday titled ‘Guardian launches augmented reality specs to offer immersive liberal insight‘: 

Guardian Goggles

The story introduced the ‘new’ technology in the following manner:

“…this newspaper announces a groundbreaking development in the modern history of the media: a pair of web-connected “augmented reality” spectacles that will beam its journalism directly into the wearer’s visual field, enabling users to see the world through the Guardian’s eyes at all times.

As the wink and the nod by the Guardian contributor who penned the piece was evident, the otherwise painful evocation of such a dystopian scenario can, at this point in the ‘story’, be forgiven.

The satire continues:

“The motion-sensitive spectacles, known as Guardian Goggles, incorporate translucent screens in the lenses, overlaying the wearer’s view of their surroundings with a real-time stream of specially curated opinions from the paper’s reporters, critics and commentators.

Again, such a truly chilling prospect is at least clearly meant in jest.

However, in the subsequent passage their light-hearted parody becomes infused with the unmistakable reality of Guardian Left ideology.

“The spectacles also feature optional built-in anti-bigotry technology, which prevents exposure to non-Guardian opinions by blacking out columns by Melanie Phillips or Richard Littlejohn, among other writers, as soon as the user attempts to look at them.” [emphasis added]

It’s quite telling that, of all the examples of real racism they could have chosen to illustrate the ‘features’ of this faux technology, they chose Phillips – whose informed and serious commentary on the very real danger posed to the West by the violent and reactionary values of radical Islam clearly runs afoul of their political sensibilities.

However, instead of belaboring this particular point, we thought it would be edifying to include a short list of real bigots who they could have cited in that passage, and who also are either employed by the Guardian or have contributed to ‘Comment is Free’.  (Please consider participating in the poll at the end)

Here’s a list of a few of the antisemitic contributors they’ve published in recent years, and is in no particular order:

Deborah Orr,Guardian journalist: ‘Chosen people’ smear


Though Orr’s logical failures in analyzing the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange in 2011 were breathtaking, the following passage from her Oct. 19, 2011, piece (later revised) is particularly worth noting, as it suggests that Jews are inherently racist:

there is something abject in [Hamas’s] eagerness to accept a transfer [of prisoners] that tacitly acknowledges what so many Zionists believe – that the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate neighbors.”

Steve Bell, Guardian cartoonist: Jewish conspiracy


Whilst you can read these posts to read about Bell’s mockery of the very notion of antisemitic tropes, the following cartoon which he published at the Guardian during the November war in Gaza is most illustrative of the place where Arab Judeophobia bleeds into Guardian “liberal” commentary.

Steve Bell 16.12.2012

Raed Salah, ‘Comment is Free’ contributor: Blood libel and Jewish supremacy


As we’ve noted, an extremist cleric named Raed Salah became a Guardian cause celeb during his 2011 legal battle with UK Immigration Authorities despite his record of promoting violence and racism – which included his recitation of a poem promoting the medieval antisemitic narrative that Jews use the blood of non-Jews to bake their “holy” bread.  

When Salah won his final deportation appeal – at a UK Immigration Tribunal which, nonetheless, concluded that Salah did in fact promote the blood libel – the Guardian awarded him an essay at ‘Comment is Free’.  

Salah’s used his polemical victory lap, published on Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Day in 2012, to smear the UK Jewish community by suggesting that their support for Zionism was akin to endorsing an ideology of “supremacism”.

Here are the relevant passages in Salah’s commentary:

“Despite the Israeli policy of “transfer” – another term for ethnic cleansing – the Palestinians will not go away. The Israeli state can occupy our lands, demolish our homes, drill tunnels under the old city of Jerusalem – but we will not disappear. Instead, we now aspire to a directly elected leadership for Palestinians in Israel; one that would truly represent our interests. We seek only the legal rights guaranteed to us by international conventions and laws.

The Palestinian issue can only be resolved if Israel and its supporters in Britain abandon the dogmas of supremacy and truly adhere to the universal values of justice and fairness.” [emphasis added]

Ben White‘Comment is Free’ contributor: ‘Antisemitism is understandable’


White is a professional Israel hater who has expressed sympathy for Palestinian ‘martyrs’, and who once defended Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from “charges” that he denied the Holocaust – and whose views on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict were recently tacitly endorsed by Hamas.  He continues to publish at ‘Comment is Free’, despite having never once distanced himself from a 2002 essay he published on the extremist online site, CounterPunch.

Here’s an excerpt from the piece, titled: Is It ‘Possible’ to Understand the Rise in ‘Anti-Semitism’?,

I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are”. This after linking the rise of antisemitism with “the widespread bias and subservience to the Israeli cause in the Western media”.  There are, in fact, a number of reasons. One is the state of Israel, its ideology of racial supremacy and its subsequent crimes committed against the Palestinians. [emphasis added]

Musa AbumarzuqComment is Free’ contributor: Official in the terror group, Hamas, which openly calls for the murder of Jews


Abumarzuq was published twice at ‘Comment is Free’.  His most recent piece offered insights into his “concerns” about Israeli violation of human rights – “liberal sensibilities” which CiF editors evidently were able to reconcile with his leadership role in a group which endorses the antisemitic conspiracy theories and openly calls for the mass murder of Jews.

(Note: In addition to Abumarzuq, the list of Hamas members published at ‘Comment is Free’ includes Ismail Haniyeh, Osama Hamdan, and Azzam Tamimi.)

Please cast your ballot for the most antisemitic Guardian or ‘Comment is Free’ contributor.  When voting, feel free to choose another Guardian contributor which, for the sake of brevity, we didn’t include in the list. 

Phoebe Greenwood races to report ‘news’ that Samer al-Issawi supports BDS

We posted yesterday, March 3, about a ‘Comment is Freeessay published by convicted DFLP terrorist Samer al-Issawi – the hunger-striking Israeli prisoner who was released in 2011, during the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap, and re-arrested in 2012 for violating the conditions of his release.

Issawi, whose crimes included firing an assault weapon at Israeli civilians, attempted to establish himself among CiF readers as a selfless martyr for Palestinian ‘civil rights’, and called on the international community – “especially the British” – to impose sanctions against the Jewish state until such time as all “political prisoners” (terrorists held in Israeli jails) are released.

March 3, 2013. 17:00 GMT


Well, not only did Phoebe Greenwood consider the fact the ‘Comment is Free’ essay written by Issawi (or one of his supporters) news, but, as you can see by the screen captures, the Guardian stringer based in the Middle East felt the need to rush the “story” to ‘print’.  A mere 63 minutes elapsed from the time ‘Comment is Free’ published Issawi’s piece and the time Greenwood published her report.

March 3, 2013. 18:03 GMT


In addition to Greenwood’s curious rush to post, it’s unclear why she believed in the first place that Issawi’s cynical demopathic discourse needed to be amplified.  

Was anyone really in doubt that a DFLP terrorist would support sanctions against the state whose citizens he’s actively attempted to kill?

Guardian provides forum for Palestinian terrorist Samer al-Issawi

Samer al-Issawi is a Palestinian who was arrested in April 2002 and sentenced to 26 years for attempted murder, belonging to a terror organization (Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine), and possession of weapons, arms and explosive materials.  His terror activities included firing a gun at Israeli civilians, indiscriminately firing an assault rifle at civilian buses, and manufacturing and distributing pipe bombs used in attacks on Israeli civilians.

Issawi was one of the Palestinian prisoners released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange in October 2011, but was re-arrested in July 2102 for reportedly violating one of the conditions of his release.

Issawi has been on an intermittent hunger strike since shortly after his re-arrest – which has garnered sympathetic coverage from radical NGO’s, the Guardian, and some mainstream news outlets – and is currently being treated at an Israeli hospital.

On March 3, ‘Comment is Free’, consistent with their tradition of providing forums for Islamic extremists, and even leaders of terrorist groups which call for the murder of Jews, published a commentary by Issawi titled ‘We are fighting for all Palestinians.


The piece, by Issawi or whomever wrote it on his behalf and successfully submitted it to CiF editors, represents an effort to humanize and normalize such terrorist ‘activism’, casting those who would attack civilians as ordinary, even righteous, political actors.  

The piece begins with the suggestion that Issawi’s “story” is really “no different from that of many other Palestinian young people”, and notes that the ‘hunger striking’ convicted terrorist is merely following in the tradition of ‘resistance’ charted by his grandfather and several of his siblings.

After explaining that the hunger strike was launched to protest against Issawi’s “illegal imprisonment”, Issawi or his sponsor, clearly understanding the dynamics of Western guilt, directs a demopathic appeal in the most theatrical and maudlin manner:

My health has deteriorated greatly, but I will continue my hunger strike until victory or martyrdom. This is my last remaining stone to throw at the tyrants and jailers in the face of the racist occupation that humiliates our people.

I draw my strength from all the free people in the world who want an end to the Israeli occupation. My weak heartbeat endures thanks to this solidarity and support; my weak voice gains its strength from voices that are louder, and can penetrate the prison walls.

My battle is not just for my own freedom. My fellow hunger strikers, Ayman, Tarik and Ja’afar, and I are fighting a battle for all Palestinians against the Israeli occupation and its prisons. What I endure is little compared to the sacrifice of Palestinians in Gaza, where thousands have died or been injured as a result of brutal Israeli attacks and an unprecedented and inhuman siege.

Issawi fancies himself selfless, a ‘freedom fighter’, a martyr, an anti-racist doing battle with the dark forces of Zionist tyranny. 

Now the political appeal:

However, more support is needed. Israel could not continue its oppression without the support of western governments. These governments, particularly the British, which has a historic responsibility for the tragedy of my people, should impose sanctions on the Israeli regime until it ends the occupation, recognises Palestinian rights, and frees all Palestinian political prisoners.

Issawi is asking “particularly” the British, whose brief felicity to the idea that Jews’ desire to re-establish their historic homeland should be honored renders so many vulnerable to the emotional pull of such political charlatanism, to pay penance by consigning the Jewish state to isolation until such time as all Palestinian “political prisoners” – an expansive definition of which includes those denied the ‘right’ to launch deadly projectiles at innocents – be freed.

Issawi’s ‘jailhouse letter’ at ‘Comment is Free’ represents not only another example of the Guardian Left’s inability to see past even the most risible charades of post-colonialism and anti-imperialism, but also what can only be described as a fetishization towards political violence which continues to make a mockery of every value the true left has historically embraced.  

Information about Samer al-Issawi not provided by the Guardian

A Feb. 19 blurb in the Guardian’s ongoing series of posts in their ‘Middle East Live’ blog noted that “Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails declared a one-day fast today in solidarity with four inmates whose hunger strike has fueled anti-Israel protests in the occupied West Bank”.

The story then quoted Reuters, thus:

Samer al-Issawi, one of the four Palestinians who have been on hunger strike, has been refusing food, intermittently, for more than 200 days. His family says his health has deteriorated sharply.

The prisoners’ campaign for better conditions and against detention without trial has touched off violent protests over the past several weeks outside an Israeli military prison and in West Bank towns.

In the Gaza Strip, the Islamic Jihad group said a truce with Israel that ended eight days of fighting in November could unravel if any hunger striker died. 

The Palestinian Prisoners Club, which looks after the welfare of inmates and their families, said 800 prisoners were taking part in the day-long fast. 

Additionally, a Feb. 15 edition of the Guardian’s ‘Picture Desk Live’ included a photo of a Palestinian in eastern Jerusalem detained while throwing stones at Israeli police during a protest against the imprisonment of Issawi. Here’s the caption they used:

A Palestinian with marks of pepper spray on his face is detained by Israeli border policemen who suspect him of throwing stones during clashes at a protest in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Issawiya. Clashes broke out as residents protested calling for the release of Samer al-Issawi, a hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner.

As Issawi prepares to become the latest Palestinian cause celebre (see Richard Millett’s report on a pro-Issawi protest in Trafalgar Square in London) here’s some interesting information about the prisoner recently reported by Tamar Sternthal at CAMERA.

Who is Samer Issawi and why had he been imprisoned?

According to the Israel Prison Service, Samer Issawi of Issawiyeh, Jerusalem was arrested in April 2002 and sentenced to 26 years for attempted murder, belonging to an unrecognized (terror) organization, military training, and possession of weapons, arms and explosive materials. Issawi (identification number 037274735) was one of the 477 Palestinian prisoners released in the first stage of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange in October 2011. (The Prison Service lists him as Samir Tariq Ahmad Muhammad. Multiple names are not uncommon among Palestinians. The date of his arrest, birth, his sentence term and the terms of his release are consistent with the details provided about Samer Issawi in media reports.)

Here’s additional information on Issawi’s terror activities that Capt. Eytan Buchman, an IDF spokesman, provided to CAMERA:

Issawi was convicted of multiple crimes which included five counts of attempted murder. This included four shootings, between July 2001 and February 2002, in which Issawi and his accomplices fired on police cars and buses travelling between Ma’ale Adumim and Jerusalem. In one attack, a policeman was injured and required surgery. On October 30, 2001, Issawi, together with an accomplice, fired at two students walking from the Hebrew University campus to their car in a nearby parking lot. In another case, Issawi provided guns and explosive devices to a terror squad, which then fired on a bus. Finally, in December 2001, Issawi ordered an attack on security personnel at Hebrew University, providing a terror squad with a pistol and a pipe bomb. Two of the squad members tracked security personnel but didn’t carry out the attack.

Issawi was re-arrested in July 2102 for reportedly violating one of the conditions of his release.

Sternthal also cited an October 2011 letter to the editor of the Guardian by Amir Ofek of the Israeli embassy in London which criticized the paper for failing to provide information about Issawi’s terror activities in a photo of him they used (in the print edition of the paper).

Ofek wrote the following:

Your centrefold (19 October) carries a double-spread photograph of released prisoner Samer Tareq al-Issawi in a cheering crowd, after being freed under the terms of the deal to release Gilad Shalit. It is important to point out the grave terrorism offences of which Al-Issawi was convicted, including firing a gun at a civilian vehicle in October 2001, indiscriminately firing an AK47 assault rifle at civilian buses, and manufacturing and distributing pipe bombs used in attacks on Israeli civilians.

Since it’s likely that the Guardian (and groups like the Palestinian Prisoners Club) will continue to characterize Issawi as a Palestinian martyr, it’s important to keep in mind that the “hunger striker” is not a ‘civil rights activist’ but, rather, a convicted terrorist who devoted his time attempting to murder Israeli civilians.

What the Guardian didn’t mention about their Palestinian ‘prisoner of the day’

H/T Al-Gharqad

While we often post in response to Israel related news stories and commentary at the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’ which are biased, misleading or inaccurate in some manner, often a Guardian ‘photo of the day’ can similarly serve as a vehicle for propaganda due to the emotive strength of the image, along with a paucity of relevant context.

The following was included in the Feb. 11th edition of the Guardian’s ‘Best Photos of the Day’.

Mideast Israel Palestinians

Here’s the Guardian caption:

Palestinian women hold pictures of prisoners jailed in Israel during a rally calling for their release in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Photograph: Nasser Shiyoukhi/AP

Now, here’s what a Guardian reader casually glancing at the Palestinian “prisoner” wouldn’t have known.

A friend who’s fluent in Arabic read the poster and identified the ‘prisoner’ as Ayman Ismail Al-Sharawna. 

Al-Sharawna was jailed in Israel because of his involvement in a terrorist attack in in May 2002, in which two Palestinians placed an explosive device near a group of civilians in Beersheba and fled the scene. Eighteen Israelis were injured in the attack. (A technical fault prevented the bomb from exploding fully.)

He was sentenced to 38 years in prison, but released on October 18, 2011 as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal.

On January 31, 2012, the IDF re-arrested Al-Sharawna, resident of a Palestinian town near Hebron, on suspicion of having returned to terror planning with a Hamas cell in the West Bank.  He recently began a hunger strike.

Al-Sharawna is a “prisoner” because he tried to murder innocent Israelis, and, after his release, is evidently determined to try to murder again.

Hate at Trafalgar Square: Palestine Solidarity Campaign activist says he wants to kill Israelis

The following is a first hand account by the London-based blogger, Richard Millett


Protesting for Samer Issawi in Trafalgar Square.

Yesterday, in case you missed it, was the 24 hour worldwide mass hunger strike for Samer Issawi. Sympathy hunger strikers collected in Italy, Egypt, America, Gaza and Jerusalem. I popped over to see how the London leg of the hunger strike was going in Trafalgar Square. When I arrived at 6pm there were about 10 demonstrators handing out leaflets which stated:

“Samer Al-Issawi, a Palestinian from occupied Jerusalem is incarcerated without charge. The political prisoner close to death was assaulted while handcuffed by Israeli police in Jerusalem on 18 December. Issawi is held without charge under the notorious administrative detention and is on hunger strike against it. Israel reneged in the Shalit prisoners deal when it rearrested Isawi (sic.) Samer’s brother was murdered in the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre in 1994 by the mass murderer Baruch Goldstein, an American-Israeli Kach settler in occupied Hebron. Don’t let the Israeli state kill Samer.”

Issawi was released as part of the agreement where 1,027 Palestinian prisoners were exchanged for Israel’s Gilad Shalit. Issawi was then rearrested for allegedly defying the terms of his release that required him to remain in Jerusalem.

Issawi was originally sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2001 for shooting at Israeli soldiers entering his village of Isawiya, east Jerusalem. He is a member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and he has now been on hunger strike since 1st August from when he has ingested only water and salt.

When I arrived in Trafalgar Square none of those demonstrating for Issawi were on hunger strike. It can’t be easy for some of them to give up their daily visit to the local bistro for a bowl of steamy mushroom soup with baguette and a glass of Merlot.

Some of the demonstrators wanted to chat with me, mostly telling me that I wasn’t welcome and that I wasn’t allowed to take photographs of their demonstration.

I did have a polite discussion with a 23-year-old who had just finished studying accountancy. We talked about the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Needless to say we disagreed on everything but he did tell me of his future plans.

He wanted to leave his family and head to Pakistan to start-up a political party that would “bomb the whole of Israel”.

Here’s a clip of him reiterating his desire to bomb Israel. When I asked him what would happen to all the innocent Israelis if he bombed Israel he replied:

“Whoever is innocent there I will rescue them, so that Benjamin Netanyahu dies and people like you as well.”

This isn’t a surprising sentiment for a Palestine Solidarity Campaign activist as their hate for Israel’s supporters far surpasses any faux concern they claim to have for Palestinians, including Samer Issawi.

More photos from the protest:




CST report on antisemitic discourse slams the Guardian: Singles out Orr and McGreal

The CST, the official body advising the UK Jewish community on matters of security and antisemitism, just released a comprehensive report on antisemitic discourse in the UK for 2011 and singled out the Guardian for opprobrium.  In fact, CST devotes an entire section of their 36 page report to the Guardian.

CST noted the following:

In 2011, the Guardian faced more accusations of antisemitism than any other mainstream UK newspaper.

Here are some specific highlights from the full report:



Concerns within the Jewish community and elsewhere regarding the Guardian, relative to other mainstream media outlets, have persisted for many years now – a situation that will probably worsen as the paper’s Comment is Free website grows.

Comment is Free website: overview


Comment is Free website hosts many more articles than the Guardian’s actual print edition –and has lower editorial standards. Articles critical of Israel and its supporters are commonplace and routinely attract hundreds of comments from members of the public. Counter-articles are far less common.

The Guardian: overview


Specific accusations of antisemitism against the Guardian itself usually arise from opinion pieces that reflect the hostility of the writer to Israel or those they associate with it. These articles are rarely, if ever, explicitly antisemitic. Rather, they usually contain remarks and attitudes that echo antisemitic motifs, such as Jewish conspiracies of wealth and power, and the notion that Jews are loyal to no one but each other. In their hostility, these articles afford little or no room for mainstream Jewish voices or perspectives.

[Not] innocent in the war of words about Jews and Israel

A March 2011 opinion piece in the Jewish Chronicle by its deputy editor, Jenni Frazer, appeared to capture the feelings of many Jews and mainstream UK Jewish communal bodies towards the Guardian. She wrote: “…I cannot count the number of complaints we have had from readers who do not understand the Guardian’s obsession with Jews and Israel, the poisonous letters or op-eds it publishes.”

Typifying the Guardian’s problems regarding antisemitism, according to the CST, were comment articles by Washington correspondent Chris McGreal, a piece by weekly columnist Deborah Orr and its coverage of the Sheikh Raed Salah deportation case.

Chris McGreal: “George Bush slavishly refusing to pressure the Jewish state”


In an article concerning American Jewish voting patterns, senior Guardian correspondent Chris McGreal wrote: “Obama [told] American Jewish leaders that he would put some ‘daylight’ between the US and Israel after eight years of George Bush slavishly refusing to pressure the Jewish state to move toward ending the occupation.”Following protests that this risked reading as if former President Bush had somehow been a slave to Jews, the word “slavishly” was changed to“consistently”. The Guardian stated that this would“clarify the intended meaning” of the sentence.Given President Obama’s ethnicity, it seems unlikely that the Guardian would have allowed the word “slavishly” to be as readily used as in relation to former President Bush.

Nevertheless, the importance of conspiracy theory to antisemitism requires the newspaper (and others) to show sensitivity to risking such associations. In this regard, the Guardian’s alteration of “slavishly”to “consistently” maintained the overall meaning of the sentence, while reducing (but not entirely removing) the potential antisemitic sting.

Deborah Orr: “lives of the chosen”


In October 2011, Israel exchanged over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in return for a soldier, Gilad Shalit, who had been held captive in Gaza for five years.Guardian columnist Deborah Orr sparked outrage when she used the phrase “the chosen” in an article about the exchange:  “…there is something abject in their [Hamas’]eagerness to accept a transfer that tacitly acknowledges what so many Zionists believe –that the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate neighbours.”

Writing in the Jewish Chronicle, commentator David Aaranovitch explained his (and others’) concerns with Orr’s use of “the chosen…when the predicted complaint [about the Shalit exchange terms] was made in the predictable place (the Guardian’s opinion columns), the source surprised me. Deborah Orr is a clever, sensitive writer, as little given to bombast or prejudice as any columnist.“…What was so shocking to me about this phrase was its casualness – not its deliberation. The writer just didn’t realise, it seemed, that this charge about ‘chosenness’ – as applied specifically and categorically to Jews (whether ‘Zionists’ or not) is one of the most recurrent and poisonous tropes in antisemitism… Had she been confronted with the suggestion that, say, blacks were a bit childlike,undisciplined, sensual and physical rather than intellectual, she’d have recognised immediately the contours of old-time racism. The alarms would have gone off, the thought would have been interrogated, the problem noticed.“…Orr’s reaction seems to come from a place that deems all Zionism – all belief in a Jewish homeland– to be beyond respectability.“…What worries me here, as it increasingly has done for a decade, is the way in which the Palestinian issue is leading to a slippage in sensibilities, from concern, to partisanship, to an almost unconscious acceptance of the characterisation of Jews or Zionists or Israelis which replicates ancient libels….”

Blood libel allegation, Sheikh Raed Salah


Controversies concerning alleged antisemitism from Islamist sources were typified by the 2011–12 visit to Britain of Sheikh Raed Salah, a leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel. In particular, the Guardian newspaper was highly partial in its reporting of the case. Some coverage of the case (including, in part, by the Guardian) asserted or assumed that the Salah controversy had been engineered by the Israeli Government and carried out, at its behest, by its ‘local’ supporters and forced, somehow, upon the Home Secretary. These allegations about Israeli Government involvement were both unreferenced and untrue.

Guardian summary

The case exemplified the manner in which UK Islamists and pro-Palestinian activists defend their political allies from accusations of antisemitism. It is normal for such groups to act in this way and for them to misrepresent British Jewish concerns; but Blood libel allegation CST argued that Salah’s presence was unwelcome, primarily because of a speech he had made in Jerusalem in 2007 that had alluded to the “blood libel”, the notorious medieval charge that Jews kill Christian children in order to use their blood for religious practices.

These images, of medieval, Nazi, Syrian and modern day Hizbollah origin, each depict the notorious antisemitic blood libel charge.

As the controversy developed, Salah and his supporters claimed that Israeli officials had brought no charges against the speech, then said charges had been brought but dropped due to lack of evidence, before admitting that the case remained outstanding in Israel, but Salah and his supporters now claimed he had been discussing the Spanish Inquisition, not the behaviour of Jews.The final hearing (which Salah won) agreed with CST’s interpretation of the speech.

In February 2012, Justice Ockelton ruled in Salah’s favour against deportation, despite Section 59 of his own ruling finding that Sheikh Salah (“the appellant”) had indeed referred to the blood libel and that the Home Secretary had been right to consider this.  This finding has never been acknowledged…in any Guardian articles.”

Justice Ockelton’s statement included:

“In our judgment this [Salah’s counterargument] is all wholly unpersuasive. The appellant is clearly aware of the blood libel against Jews…The truth of the matter is that the conjunction of the concepts of ‘children’s blood’ and ‘holy bread’is bound to be seen as a reference to the blood libel unless it is immediately and comprehensively explained to be something else altogether.”.

“We have taken into account that the same sermon contained more moderate language and concepts and positive references to Jewish prophets and synagogues. Nevertheless we do not find this comment [by Salah] could be taken to be anything other than a reference to the blood libel against Jews…”

“The Guardian: pro-Salah bias:

Throughout the controversy, the Guardian…reported the views of Salah’s UK Islamist hosts and defenders, but failed to adequately ask for, report, or consider, the concerns of CST and the UK Jewish community.  It ran no articles countering Salah’s position.

Haneen Zoabi

On 29 June 2011, the Guardian ran an article by Haneen Zoabi, entitled, “An Israeli trap for Britain”.This framed the Salah controversy as being an Israeli ploy, carried out by its “supporters abroad”. It essentially reduced the allegations against Salah to the status of lies, concocted by Israel and its British supporters to defend racism and then forced upon the Home Secretary. Excerpts included: “…Unable to produce any legal evidence, the Israeli establishment and its supporters in Britain accuse him of antisemitism….It appears that the charge of antisemitism is being used as a way of suppressing criticism of Israeli policies…it seems that the British government has bowed to pro-Israel pressure even when it comes to inshore affairs.

Next, Zoabi alluded to Zionists being responsible for Islamophobia, repeated her dismissal of the allegations against Salah and ended by implying that “Zionist racism” and “the pro-Israeli lobby”were controlling UK policy: “Pro-Israel organisations in Britain and elsewhere are manipulating growing European Islamophobia to discredit us by falsely portraying the democratic Palestinian struggle against racism and discrimination in Israel as antisemitic.“…The British authorities have fallen into an Israeli trap…until now, Palestinian citizens of Israel have been struggling for our political rights in our country, and confronting Zionist racism inside Israel. But now it seems we have to confront Zionist racism abroad as well.“The pro-Israeli lobby must not be allowed to determine politics in Britain…

Official Guardian editorial

On 1 July 2011, the Guardian ran an editorial in support of Salah. Its title, “Muslim Brotherhood activists: unwelcome guests?” signaled the newspaper’s failure to properly address the antisemitism allegations against Salah, or what this meant for British Jews, Muslim-Jewish communal relations and the Government’s recently tightened anti-extremism guidelines.

The editorial echoed Haneen Zoabi’s opinion piece by crassly suggesting that the UK Government was moving against “all Palestinian activists Israel has a problem with”, before appearing to accept Salah’s denials at face value: “…he says [the allegations] were fabricated, and for which he has started libel proceedings…Mr Salah has not been convicted of antisemitism”.

Additional coverage of Salah by the Guardian.

On 26 September 2011, the Guardian reported upon Salah’s forthcoming appeal. The story summarised the antisemitism allegations against Salah and ran his lawyer’s rebuttals of them. This included implying that CST had “doctored”the Koranic poem and the “blood libel” speech to include mentions of “Jews”.

Following CST’s intervention, the story was altered on the Guardian website, clarifying that these were the lawyer’s claims, not the Guardian’s, and stating:“there is no suggestion that CST doctored the quotes”.  A line suggesting CST had not checked the quotes for accuracy was removed; but a further clarification that CST had actually found and supplied the accurate versions of the poem and speech was not included.

On 30 September 2011, the Guardian reported that Salah had won compensation for two days of wrongful immigration detention.  

On 26 October 2011, Salah lost his first appeal. Despite its extensive prior coverage (at least articles prior to this date), this verdict did not appear to be reported by the Guardian. Indeed, the paper seems to have made no further mention of Salah until 9 April 2012, when he won a further appeal. This was covered at length by the  two articles, which implied that Salah had won on all charges, whilst making no mention of the ruling dismissing Salah’s denial of having made a blood libel speech.

It also ran an article by Salah himself, entitled, Britain’s duty to the Palestinian people”.

Salah’s CiF piece included the claim that “The Palestinian issue can only be resolved if Israel and its supporters in Britain abandon the dogmas of supremacy…”


CST’s 2011 Report on Antisemitic Discourse clearly demonstrates the Guardian’s continuing antisemitic sins of ‘commission and, just as dangerous, ‘omission': their silence in the face of clear evidence of antisemitism when covering a story. 

While this blog’s mission is clear, and we’ll continue combating antisemitism and the assault on Israel’s legitimacy at the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’, we also have a related mission: to name and shame the Guardian as an institution which fancies itself the “world’s leading liberal voice” yet continues to display tolerance towards decidedly illiberal opinions about Jews.

It is incumbent upon all those who consider themselves passionate anti-racists to join us in this fight.

Guardian claims Hamas scored political points from photo of Egypt PM cradling dead baby

An official Guardian editorial (Gaza: storm before the quiet, Nov. 21) on talks of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas cited legitimate claims of victory both sides could make if a truce is signed.

[Netanyahu] can say that while Gilad Shalit is back with his family, the man who kidnapped him, Hamas’s military chief Ahmed al-Jaabari, is dead; he can say that the stock of missiles in Gaza is depleted and that the Iron Dome missile defence system proved itself. He can say the operation gave the lie to those who claimed Israel cannot act militarily now that the regional environment has been changed by the Arab spring. 

Now, here’s the Guardian assessment of what Hamas will gain:

“Hamas has a different narrative. Whether a ceasefire takes effect or not, they will say their rockets established their reach over the majority of the population from Jerusalem to north of Tel Aviv. And far from being wiped out in the initial Israeli bombardment, they kept firing to the very end.”

Then, parroting Seumas Milne’s recent triumphant polemic about Hamas’ ‘victory’ in establishing themselves as the main Palestinian resistance movement, the editorial continues:

“At home, Hamas will have reaffirmed its role as the main resistance to the occupation – a role which it was in danger of surrendering to competitive militant groups in the Gaza Strip.” [emphasis added]

The editorial continues:

“More significant, Hamas claims, would be the political gains achieved during the past traumatic week – the pictures of the Egyptian prime minister and Turkish foreign minister clutching dead Gazan children, the stream of visits and support from the entire Arab League. What did the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, sitting all on his own in Ramallah get? Tony Blair.” [emphasis added]

It is worth noting that the Guardian is once again suggesting that Hamas, unlike the “craven” Palestinian leaders in Fatah, is more deserving of our moral sympathy, more justified in claiming the mantle of the authentic Palestinian resistance movement. 

Further, the picture of the Egyptian prime minister clutching a dead Gazan child, which the Guardian is referring to, is an incident which was revealed to be a fraud.

Though media reports initially claimed the child in question, 4-year-old Mahmoud Sadallah, was killed by an Israeli strike, it later was revealed that he was almost certainly killed by an errant Hamas rocket.

This cynical manipulation of a dead Palestinian boy to score public relation points should be a source of shame for Hamas, not a source of pride.  

However, as long as the Guardian remains enamored of Hamas, and sympathetic to their claims of legitimacy, don’t expect even the most specious moral and political claims by the Islamist group to be subjected to critical scrutiny.

More tortured logic by the Guardian’s Deborah Orr

The notoriety of Guardian journalist Deborah Orr is well deserved.  

Following the 2011 release of Gilad Shalit by Hamas, after five years of captivity and in exchange for over 1000 Palestinian prisoners (including scores of cold-blooded terrorists who had murdered Israelis), the Guardian journalist expressed anger, not at Hamas, but at Israel.

Israel’s sin?


She wrote:

“[Hamas’s] eagerness to accept a [prisoner] transfer…tacitly acknowledges what so many Zionists believe – that the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate neighbours.

Her tortured logic, which included an antisemitic understanding of “chosenness” to infer that Jews are racist due to theological first causes, was stunning even for the Guardian and rightfully elicited a chorus of condemnationsresulting in a (mealy-mouthed) apology from Orr.

More recently, Orr employed her penetrating insight to pass judgment on the sins of recent Western blasphemers (the creator of the film ‘Innocence of Muslims’, and the editor of a French satirical magazine who published depictions of Muhammad) who believe that their freedom of speech includes the right to offend people of various faith traditions.

In a Guardian piece titled ‘The West and the Islamic world should leave one another to live and let live’, September 21st, Orr wrote the following:

“Free speech does not confer the right to be wrong, mistaken, biased or merely a doggedly axe-grinding pain-in-the-ass about your pet hates.”

Actually, the “right to be wrong, mistaken, or biased” is EXACTLY what free speech in the West confers – a liberty unconditionally bestowed upon those who criticize Muslims or mock their prophet and even, in fact, to “journalists” with an axe to grind against Jews and express their pet hate on the pages of the Guardian. 

BBC celebrates with Palestinian prisoners: Reunited, and it feels SO good!

A guest post by Gidon Ben-Zvi, who blogs at Jerusalem State of Mind

The BBC cheerfully announced that dogged defenders of convicted terrorists’ rights were overwhelmed with “indescribable excitement” at the news that Palestinian families from Gaza would be allowed to visit their jailed relatives in Israel for the first time in five years.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), having coordinated the visits, expressed its wish that “…visits by residents of Gaza will [soon] resume in full.”

Beyond the narrative woven of lonesome prisoners being able to see their wives and children after years of separation, there lies a fundamental and uncomfortable truth: while some Palestinians are in jail for relatively minor infractions, others are incarcerated for terrorism-related crimes, including murder.

Israel agreed to the move in May, as part of a deal to end a mass hunger strike by the “newest heroes of the Palestinian cause” –  security prisoners including members of Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups whose entire raison d’etre is to kill Israeli men, women and children in the name of Palestinian liberation.

As part of the deal that was struck, prisoner leaders committed not to engage in militant activity inside jail and to refrain from future hunger strikes.

The BBC’s coverage of this heart wrenching story of fleeting family reunification makes no mention of the murderous acts, mostly against unarmed civilians, that landed many of these Palestinians in Israel’s Ramon prison.

For all its brevity, the BBC news blurb is replete with examples of shoddy research and glaring inaccuracies. Good, credible reportage is based on the conveying of historical context. While the BBC states cryptically that family visits were halted in 2007 “… after the militant Islamist group Hamas came to power in Gaza,” the devil is in the details.

In fact, Israel banned family visits to prisoners from Gaza in 2007, a few months after Gazan terrorists kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, holding him captive until they exchanged him for over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in 2011.

Still, why does Israel have to be so cruel to terror suspects? In some cases, Israel will even hold said freedom fighters in prison without trial for lengthy periods of time – surely an abuse of international human rights, no?

Israel’s strangeness among the family of nations is an unshakable belief that’s taken for fact by many an otherwise reputable international broadcasting organization. Yet it is worth noting that administrative detention – the arrest and detention of individuals by the state without trial, usually for security reasons – is used by a large number of countries including the United States and United Kingdom, which has maintained many forms of administrative detention over the years.

Administrative detention is often used in cases where the available evidence consists of information obtained by the security services and where a trial would reveal sensitive security information, such as the identities of informers or infiltrators.

Apparently, the BBC was under a tight deadline and failed to include in its coverage that the legal basis for Israel’s use of administrative detention is the British Mandate 1945 Law on Authority in States of Emergency.

In recent years, Israel’s prisons have become among the most closely scrutinized in the world, which is one reason why the government has allowed representatives of the Red Cross and other groups to inspect them regularly.

One Palestinian prisoner who was released in the first phase of the Gilad Shalit deal, Samer al-Issawi (a member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine) has spoken in detail about how he was treated during his incarceration in five different Israeli prisons.

According to Issawi, most prisoners are held eight to a cell that is approximately 25 feet by 15 feet. Each cell has its own shower, bathroom, kitchenette and a TV that receives 12 channels, including Israeli channels and several Arabic-language channels, among them Palestinian TV.

Furthermore, prisoners are allowed into a courtyard to exercise for an hour. For two hours each morning and each afternoon, prisoners may leave their cells to visit prisoners in other cell blocks.

On Fridays, Muslim prisoners may pray together in the prison courtyard. A prisoner serves as the imam, or prayer leader.

As for medical care, the prisoners, according to Issawi, have doctors at the prison and, when necessary, are treated at Israeli hospitals.

And since Israel’s treatment of its Palestinian prisoners is such an ongoing topic of fascination for pro-Palestinian human rights groups, where is the international outcry in response to the treatment of Israelis held captive by Palestinians?

Had the BBC spent a bit more time on old-fashioned research and less on a “total identification with the goals and methods of the Palestinian terror groups”, it may have gotten the facts straight.

Should the Guardian’s Phoebe Greenwood be sacked?

A guest post by AKUS

In the articles ‘Lost in anti-Zionist translation? Guardian misquotes Noam Shalit on Palestinian hostage taking and ‘Guardian corrects story with false translation of Noam Shalit interview after his son’s release CiF Watch exposed the errors in the recent by Phoebe Greenwood article that was corrected:

New headline:

Old headline:

Greenwood’s article was based on an incredibly rude interview carried out by Israeli journalist Amnon Levi of Israel’s “Channel 10″.

Noam Shalit with Amnon Levi of nana 10 – Channel 10

Having watched the interview (in Hebrew) it’s clear that only Amnon Levi and his cameraman were present with Noam Shalit. The interview was taped in Shalit’s house in Mitzpe Hila – in the Shalit’s kitchen, actually.

So Greenwood’s article, with the misleading quotation, was written after reading a translated transcript of the interview. (In a different article about Noam Shalit’s entry into Israeli politics, Harriet Sherwood says she interviewed Shalit in Jerusalem on Monday – presumably May 7th, 2012).

It is an interesting commentary on the low standard of Guardian journalistic ethics that Greenwood, while acknowledging that the interview was taped, does not point out that she was not there.

“Speaking to a television interviewer in the kitchen of the Shalit family home, a familiar backdrop for the Israeli public from the family’s five-year campaign for their son’s release, Shalit was subject to repeated questioning attempting to pin him down on his political policies.”

The Guardian and Greenwood do not acknowledge her source, nor that she, for all intents and purposes, provided a translated transcription of Shalit’s comments lifted from the interview plus her own views about them.

In fact, Greenwood’s article is about as close to plagiarism dished up as journalism as one can get. In another time and at another paper I suspect she would have been sacked.

Guardian corrects story with false translation of Noam Shalit interview after his son’s release

On March 17th we posted a piece (“Lost in anti-Zionist translation? Guardian misquotes Noam Shalit on Palestinian hostage taking“) which noted that the Guardian’s Phoebe Greenwood cited an incorrect translation of a Noam Shalit interview on Israeli TV.

According to Greenwood Shalit stated, in the context of discussing his son’s recent release after five-years of captivity by Hamas, that he would kidnap Israeli soldiers if he were a Palestinian.

JTA had a Hebrew-speaking colleague track down the interview with Israel’s Channel 10 and it turns out Shalit didn’t say that at all.

Here’s a transcript (translated from Hebrew) of what Shalit actually said:

Q: If you were a Hamasnik, would you abduct an Israeli soldier?

Shalit: I don’t know but maybe I would fight IDF forces in a different way, I don’t know.

Clearly, Shalit didn’t say that he would kidnap an Israeli soldier if he were a Palestinian, as Greenwood claimed.  He essentially suggested that he didn’t know exactly what he would do if he were a Palestinian, while stating that (if he were Palestinian) he might have tried to fight the Israeli army “in a different way.” 

In the Guardian’s ‘Corrections and clarifications’ section today, there was this.

Those of you fluent in Hebrew may want to read the text of the interview at the Israeli site here and let us know whether the incorrect translation could have been an honest “misinterpretation”.