The Guardian, BBC and Mona Lisa’s Nose

A guest post by Joe Geary

Guess what this is?

mona

Did you get it? Well done, yes, it’s the Middle East as represented by large segments of the media, including the Guardian and BBC.

Well actually no. It’s Mona Lisa’s nose. But you get the picture, or rather, you don’t. You just get a tiny part of it.

There is a basic principle in the fields of semiotics and sociolinguistics, known as “framing”. It is well-known that the way a story is framed will influence how it is received by an audience.  It is equally uncontroversial that framings are not natural and preordained, that whoever is telling the story has a choice of various framings and the choice that is taken gives a significant insight into how we should evaluate both the story and the storyteller.

Returning to the original analogy, the problem with the Guardian-BBC coverage of the Middle East is that we don’t get a frame at all. We don’t even get much of the painting.

They make a conscious choice to remove as much context as possible to depict the Israel-Palestinian relationship, firstly, as entirely conflictual. Whenever do we hear of the many collaborative projects, or the Israeli aid work in the Territories or the health care available to Palestinians in Israeli hospitals? Secondly it is projected as the greatest conceivable imbalance. One side has all the power imaginable, the other side is utterly disempowered.

And thirdly, it is simplistically but seductively presented as white hat versus black hat, or rather, white race against black, or at least brown. The Israelis are depicted as Westerners and so metaphorically white (what a mutation – from swarthy Semites to Nordic Aryans in just two generations). Meanwhile the Palestinians, being Arabs, must be metaphorically a “brown” people. And so we are left with an ugly narrative of racial supremacism, provoking a delicious frisson of outrage among viewers and readers.

Finally, the relationship is stripped of all historical context. Cruel Goliath just woke up one day and decided to occupy and oppress his poor downtrodden neighbour. First of all, to steal his land and then, who knows, to drive him out completely. In this framing the Palestinian “cause” is quite simply freedom and any means of throwing off the oppressor’s yoke is justified, even the most violent.

But let’s try looking at the whole painting in its regional context. The Guardian-BBC could frame this Middle East conflict as that of a tiny country which has had to fight for its survival in three wars of aggression and has been subjected to 65 years of ferocious terrorism, but which miraculously continues to flourish as a democracy with full respect for the rule of law - and all this in a region brimming with violence, tyranny and hate. In this framing, we would require an exchange of hats. Israel is engaged in defensive resistance against enemies who wish to destroy her simply because she is different; she is democratic – dangerously contagious – she is modern and above all she is not Arab-Muslim. In this framing it is no longer clear quite who is the Goliath but it’s quite clear who is the bully and who the victim. And in an Arab Middle East where not only Jews but also the Kurds and Christians are all persecuted victims of Arab-Muslim rejectionism of the “other”, it becomes clear that it isn’t Israel who should be in the UN dock for apartheid racism.

Or we might try a third framing. The Palestinians and their cause are stoked and stroked and embraced by the big power players in the region, Iran, Syria, Turkey and the Gulf States, for the most cynical of self-serving reasons. Firstly, to bolster their soft-power prestige in the Arab world, and secondly to distract the internal populations from the humiliations they suffer at the hands of their rulers. The real Middle-Eastern conflict, as is now becoming clear, is between Shia-dominated Iran, plus its Syrian puppet, and the rest of the Sunni-dominated Arab world. The Palestinians are a very useful pawn in this game. And note that this support is never for a reasonable negotiated peace with Israel. Instead the Palestinians are spurred on to seek some improbable military victory in which Israel is brought to its knees or, better still, every last Jew is driven from the Middle East. Make no mistake, both Sunnis and Shias are happy to fight Israel to the last drop of Palestinian blood and the last thing they want to see is peace. This is a rather different Palestinian “cause” from the one sold daily by the BBC and Guardian.

But wait. I’m being unfair. We do sometimes see this:

mona

What’s this? Why yes it’s the Jewish lobby. The only part of the frame we’re regularly shown. How often are we told that US support for Israel is the result solely of the shadowy but immense power of US Jews and their piles of gold? It couldn’t possibly be that Israel is a democracy under the rule of law and that not supporting Israel would be a dereliction of every value the US professes to believe in. No, perish that thought.

And why do we never see this?

mona

Well done again. Yes, it’s the Arab lobby. The Saudi, the Qatari, the Emirates lobbies – now there is serious money – who not only work Washington lavishly and spend billions on US arms, but bribe media outlets with advertising income and fund universities throughout the West (the Gaddafi Foundation, remember that?) so that ubiquitous “Middle-Eastern studies” are properly pro-Arab and anti-Israel.

One last word on the land-stealing Goliath meme so popular with the BBC and Guardian. As so often documented on this blog, the vast majority of those evil settlements, aka “the obstacle to peace”, are actually built on land which in any reasonable future agreement would be part of land swaps and end up as part of Israel.

So, Guardian, BBC, in the future let’s see the whole picture in a proper frame. She’s famous for her enigmatic smile.

It’s probably because she “nose” what you two deliberate simpletons are up to.

If this pun is too horrible then:

It’s probably because she’s sussed what you two deliberate simpletons are up to.

(Joe Geary is an Anglo-Irish author and academic and occasional contributor to the CiF Watch and BBC Watch blogs. With a professional background in sociolionguistics and political science and a special interest in the language of prejudice, he writes about the increasing demonization of Israel in parts of the mainstream British media.)

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American Studies Association ‘boycott Israel’ motion: The Justification

Here’s the 3rd post on the proposed ASA boycott, by Jon from DivestThis! (Here’s part 1 & part 2)

ASAProbably the most embarrassing part of the entire ASA boycott debate is the response of those defending a choice to flush devotion to academic freedom down the toilet for the sake of one (and only one) political pet peeve.

Long-time BDS watchers will recognize the well-rehearsed responses to typical questions about why an organization is choosing to target one nation and one nation only for boycott vs. targeting nations with far worse human rights records (which pretty much includes every nation supporting the BDS “movement”). 

First you’ve got the pre-digested word-blobs that seem to get trotted out whenever BDS selective morality is brought into question.  My favorite is the one about how the boycotters would gladly respond to any call if it came from members of non-Palestinian civil society organizations (implying that the best way to avoid the wrath of the morally perfect is to actually be a totalitarian government that crushes civil society, rather than one which lets it exist to organize global boycott campaigns).

And whenever these and all the other hypocrisies and inconsistencies are exposed (not to mention the truncated arguments and outright fabrications that fill the BDSer’s bill of indictment), the next automatic set of responses include:

  • Ignoring critics and pretending that smashed arguments were never responded to
  • Flooding the airwaves with pictures and stories of Palestinian broken children (even if some of those photos need to be imported from Syria) in hope to elicit an emotional response from the audience that will overwhelm reason
  • Claiming (falsely) that any argument against a boycott boils down to nothing but accusations of anti-Semitism

The thing is, when years ago I summed up the various defenses and responses you are now seeing used by the ASA leadership and its supporters as a blast shield against legitimate criticism, I was thinking about them in the context of how undergraduates use these tactics when making their case to other undergrads on a college campus.  But in the case of the ASA, it is not just grownups using the same tired strategies to avoid the debate they set in motion, but college professors who allegedly represent the virtues of open-mindedness, critical thinking and the importance of following evidence and inquiry wherever it leads.

In other words, the people claiming that their role as scholars gives them and their proposed boycott special meaning have chosen to act like garden variety propagandists – hiding facts, substituting gut emotion for rational debate, limiting rather than encouraging inquiry and debate – to get what they want.  And if they manage to eke out a victory, they will immediately try to use the virtues of scholarship they had so recently jettisoned to give their decision extra moral weight.

As this story plays out, don’t forget that nothing is preventing any ASA members from writing and saying anything they like about the Arab-Israeli conflict or joining a group dedicated to defaming the Jewish state.  But that’s not what they want, is it?  For a professor speaking in his own name is just a partisan individual who can be judged based on the strength and honesty of his or her arguments. 

But get a boycott passed by an organization (by any means necessary) and suddenly those partisans can claim to speak in the name of every man and woman in the association and, by extension, the field (if not the academy as a whole).  In other words, getting a voting majority (which may very well constitute a membership minority) to pass a boycott will allow a group of single-issue partisans to punch considerably above their weight, the needs of the association and the profession be damned.

As with other equally ill-conceived campaigns, Israel will survive this particular flaccid string and blunt arrow.  But I’m not sure the same thing can be said regarding the American Studies Association.

 

The Guardian (and World Bank) distorts cause of Palestinian economic woes

A guest post by Akus

Harriet Sherwood has been remarkably quiet of late, but rushed into service on October 8 with a story headlined ‘Israel’s West Bank control ‘costing Palestinian economy billions, which was followed by the sub-header “World Bank says allowing Palestinians to use the 61% of the West Bank under full Israeli control would boost the economy”.

headline

Her article is based on a 72 page World Bank study released a day earlier, West Bank and Gaza – Area C and the future of the Palestinian economy.  Sherwood cites Mariam Sherman, World Bank Country Director for the West Bank and Gaza, asserting the following:

“Unleashing the potential from that ‘restricted land’ … and allowing Palestinians to put these resources to work, would provide whole new areas of economic activity and set the economy on the path to sustainable growth”

Powerful language, but as I read through the article, and then much of the World Bank report, several strange aspects of the belief that Palestinian control of Area C would make such a dramatic difference became apparent.

1. Why does Israel control “Area C”?

The World Bank report and Sherwood’s article make it appear that Israel unreasonably maintains control of Area C. Sherwood repeats the false claim that Israeli settlements are illegal: “All Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law, are situated in Area C.”

In fact, Israel is behaving in accordance with the Interim Agreement it made in 1995 with the Palestinian Authority ceding interim control of Area C to Israel and not restricting ‘settlement’ activity. So it is important to understand how Area C came into being and why Israel remains in control of it, something that Sherwood ignores or doesn’t understand.

Area C was created as a result of the 1995 Interim Agreement, as the report itself makes clear in its description of the agreement in Par. 8 of Page 3, and in part was intended to pass to Palestinian control:

The division of the West Bank into Areas A, B and C dates back to the 1995 Interim Agreement between the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Government of Israel. Area A includes most major pre-existing Palestinian urban areas, covers 18 percent of the West Bank and is under full Palestinian security and civil control. Area B consists largely of peri-urban areas and small towns, comprises 21 percent of the West Bank and is under Palestinian civil control and Israeli security control.

Area C was defined under the Interim Agreement as “areas of the West Bank outside Areas A and B, which, except for the issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations, will be gradually transferred to Palestinian jurisdiction in accordance with this Agreement.

So the Palestinians agreed that Area C would remain under Israeli control, at least until final negotiations settle the borders between Israel and a future Palestinian state.

It needs reminding that since the Palestinians have frequently walked away from negotiations following the 1995 Agreement, Israel is justified in maintaining its control of Area C. Yasser Arafat agreed to this in exchange for control of the heavily populated areas of the West Bank (full control of Area A, civil control of Area B).

Thus the underlying premise of World Bank report, faithfully repeated by Sherwood, that “Israel’s control of a huge swath of the West Bank is costing the Palestinian economy $3.4bn (£2.1bn) a year”, represents a mischaracterization. The Palestinian West Bank economy, until final agreement is reached, can only be considered to include Areas A and B.

The Palestinian Authority’s previous refusal to negotiate the future of the West Bank’s borders, among other matters, means that they have not negotiated the transfer of much of Area C to their own control as was expected when the agreement was signed.

2. How many West Bank Arabs live in Area C?

Per Sherwood, the report says about 180,000 Arab West Bankers live there. Actually, it is a bit more complicated than that, and oddly enough that figure comes from a largely EU-funded Israeli NGO called Bimkom (which specializes in providing planning assistance to Arab communities in Area C) rather than from a Palestinian source. Bimkom’s estimate is provided in footnote 66 on Page 18 of the report:

The Palestinian population located in Area C is estimated by the Israeli planning organization Bimkom to be 180,000 (this includes those whose house is located in Area C but are part of communities which are split between Area C and Areas A or/and B); PCBS data shows that around 113,000 people live in communities entirely located in Area C.

The 180,000 strong Arab population of Area C is considered to be about 6.6% of the West Bank Arab population.  Put another way, approximately 93.4% of all West Bank Arabs live in areas A and B whose economy is controlled by the Palestinian Authority.

3. So how prosperous can Area C be if the Palestinians controlled it?

As I considered that 93.4% number and the $3.4 billion I began to wonder about the methodology and conclusions of the World Bank report. The methodological approaches are laid out in great detail at the end, but deeper thought suggests that the report may be overly optimistic in assessing the degree to which control of Area C would really change matters economically for the West Bankers   (the report mostly ignores Gaza).  To make matters worse, the report’s Executive Summary claims that the calculation of $3.4 billion, which already includes a “1.5 overall multiplier effect” on “other related sectors”, is “very probably an underestimate”.

Now, $3.4 billion (or even more, if the hint in the Executive Summary is believed) is indeed a considerable sum.  But, before I thought more deeply about it and realized how carefully the issue has been framed by the World Bank report, I dismissed it as rather a marginal issue. (I am reminded of Daniel Kahneman’s 2011 book “Thinking, Fast and Slow” shows how framing issues can change perceptions).

“Thinking fast”, I recalled that Israel has a GDP of about  80 times that $3.4 billion number and as small as the Palestinian economy might be by comparison, surely the gain of $3 billion or so would not be the panacea that the World Bank thinks. Are they that much on a knife-edge between prosperity and disaster?

Well, no. “Thinking slow”, I realized that if $3.4bn (£2.1bn) a year represents 35% of Palestinian GDP, the GDP of Areas A and B (and possibly Gaza) must be only about $10 billion at most. In fact, Figure 1 of the report shows that indeed the current Palestinian GDP is $10 billion. 

Ten billion dollars (US) is a remarkably low number for a population of 2.5 million people (excluding Gaza), even for 4 million people if the $10 billion number includes Gaza.  It is about $2,500 per capita (the PCBS predicts $1,687 per capita and by comparison Israel’s GDP is about $13,800 per capita) and a terrible indictment of the economic performance of the PA (and Hamas). It also demonstrates how billions in aid that have been poured into “Palestine” has been wasted. 

The World Bank report expects us to accept that even though the entire population of Areas A and B (93.6% of the West Bank Arabs), and possibly including that of Gaza (another 1.5 million people), generates a GDP of $10 billion, controlling and developing other largely empty areas of the West Bank will increase that by about 35%. Is this possible?

It is true that the report comprehensively assesses a variety of different activities that could add value – agriculture (provided there is almost unlimited water), tourism at the Dead Sea and Gaza Beach, adding cell phone towers to improve coverage and increase cell phone use, quarrying stone, etc. Oddly, the benchmarks that they frequently refer to as a basis for their estimates are Israeli activity and success in each of these sectors. It must surely be possible to create wealth in several of these sectors already in Areas A and B (and Gaza). Yet, the report would have you believe that 94% of the Arab population in the West Bank can only generate GDP of $10 billion or less because Israel controls Area C.

It strains credulity. If it is at least reasonable to assume that there is some correlation between the number of people living in an area and the level of economic activity in that area, it seems highly unlikely that simply adding land to the equation could have such a dramatic effect. One can blame Israel’s control of the disputed territory up to a point, but the idea that wealth will flow from the largely barren hills of the West Bank and the beaches of Gaza when Israel leaves Area C is, frankly, quite incredible. Consider the claim in light of previous economic performances in the territories, and when billions in wasted and stolen aid has poured in for decades that have created such a bloated civil service.

Finally, the report seems to work on the assumption that change will be rapid. It has taken Israel 65 years to reach its current prosperity in many of the sectors that the World Bank thinks could be copied to Area C so, clearly, change in Palestine will be slow. The 35% addition to GDP the report predicts could actually take decades to achieve. Thus, the blaring headlines in the Guardian article should surely be toned down.

The emphasis on Area C is yet another diversion from the core Palestinian problems – excessive reliance on foreign aid that distorts their tiny economy, masks massive corruption and promotes a culture of incitement and scapegoating inconsistent with the values necessary for social and economic progress.

Nothing in the report demonstrates better the degree to which the Palestinians are themselves responsible for their situation than a paragraph which lists prospects for a tourist industry based on religious and historical sites (mostly Jewish), Dead Sea tourism, and the beaches of Gaza: (Emphasis added)

42. Tourism currently makes a meager contribution to the Palestinian economy. It contributes less than 3 percent to Palestinian GDP and some 2 percent of total employment. Following a sharp decline during the second intifada years, the Palestinian tourism industry has recovered and capacity has been expanded: the past 3 years have seen an average of more than 500,000 arrivals, with total stays of more than 1.2 million room nights per year, up from well below 50,000 arrivals in 2000-2002.

In summary, to go back to Mariam Sherman’s statement:

But, unleashing the potential from that ‘restricted land,’ –access to which is currently constrained by layers of restrictions – and allowing Palestinians to put these resources to work, would provide whole new areas of economic activity and set the economy on the path to sustainable growth.

Will it be so?

Maybe. But it will take decades if it can be done at all, and I suspect the estimates of the contribution Area C could provide are grossly overstated based on prior performance. The dismal record goes back into Ottoman times, through the Jordanian occupation, and 40 plus years that included, until the terror activities became more than Israel could bear, close integration with a far wealthier neighbor.

The issue is not the lack of Area C – it is what goes on in Areas A and B, and Gaza. Change that, and you will achieve more than the arid hills of Area C could ever provide.

No human being is illegal: The Guardian’s vilification of settlers is immoral & illogical

A guest post by Gidon Ben-Zvi

In an August 12 article the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Harriet Sherwood reported that, “In highly contentious moves heralding the renewal of Middle East peace talks this week, Israel…authorized 1,200 new homes to be built in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”

In response, Palestinian leaders warned that continued settlement expansion could scuttle peace talks.

Evidently, if not for Israeli communities on the ‘wrong’ side of the 1949 armistice lines, peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors would have broken out decades ago. And if large swaths of the “international community” evidently deem the territories seized by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War as illegally occupied, then it must be true.

2013, construction in (eastern) Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo

2013, construction in (eastern) Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo

It is easy to see why such a consensus has coalesced around the perceived relationship between the Jewish State and the West Bank. When you google the term ‘settlement’, pages upon pages of news items, essays, studies and screeds  – nearly all of them equating the Jewish civilian communities built on lands captured by Israel during the Six-Day War with illegal occupation – proliferate.

In her report, Sherwood asserts that, “all settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem are illegal under international law.” However, the term “occupied” In relation to Israel’s control of these areas has little basis in international law or history.

petition by 1,000 international jurists arguing that Israel’s West Bank settlements are in fact legalrecently sent to EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, made the following points:

  • The long-held view of the EU as to the illegality of Israel’s settlements is a misreading of the relevant provisions of international law, and specifically Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which is neither relevant to the unique circumstances of Israel’s status in the area, nor was it ever applicable, or intended to apply to Israel’s circumstances in Judea and Samaria.
  • The EU together with other international bodies has consistently ignored authoritative sources, including the 1958 official commentary by International Committee of the Red Cross, as well as the published opinions of prominent international jurists, all of which explain the provenance of Article 49 in the need to address deportations, forced migration, evacuation, displacement, and expulsion of over 40 million people by the Nazis during the Second World War. This has no relevance to Israel’s settlements in Judea and Samaria.
  • The EU totally ignores the very agreement to which it is signatory as witness, the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement, in which it was agreed by the parties, pending a permanent status agreement, to exercise powers and authority in the areas under their respective control. Such powers include planning, zoning and construction. The issues of settlements and Jerusalem, as agreed upon between the parties, are negotiating issues, and hence, determinations by the EU undermine the negotiating process and run against the EU’s status as signatory.
  • The legality of Israel’s presence in the area stems from the historic, indigenous and legal rights of the Jewish people to settle in the area, as granted in valid and binding international legal instruments recognized and accepted by the international community. These rights cannot be denied or placed in question. This includes the 1922 San Remo Declaration unanimously adopted by the League of Nations, affirming the establishment of a national home for the Jewish People in the historical area of the Land of Israel (including the areas of Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem) as well as close Jewish settlement throughout. This was subsequently affirmed internationally in the League of Nations Mandate Instrument, and accorded continued validity, up to the present day, by Article 80 of the UN Charter which reaffirmed the validity of the rights granted to all states or peoples, or already existing international instruments (including those adopted by the League of Nations).
  • The inference regarding Israel’s borders as recognized by the EU is no less misguided and historically and legally wrong. The pre-1967 Armistice lines (so-called “green” line) were never considered to be borders. UN Security Council resolution 242 (1967), endorsed by the European members of the Council, called for “secure and recognized boundaries” to replace the pre-1967 Armistice lines. The European leaders further endorsed this principle in their 1980 Venice Declaration. By its persistence in referring to the pre-1967 lines, the EU is undermining future negotiation on this issue by pre-determining its outcome.
  • In a similar vein, the repeated use by the EU of the term “occupied Arab” or “Palestinian territories” to refer to the area of Judea and Samaria, has no basis in law or fact. The area has never been determined as such, and thus the continued EU usage of the term runs against the very concept of negotiations to resolve the dispute regarding these areas, supported by the EU, to determine their permanent status. 

And, leaving aside the legal basis for the settlements for a moment, while the geopolitical situation between Israel and the Palestinians is undeniably tense, it is also remarkably ordinary when perceived through a wider, global lens – especially when you glance at the long list of disputed territories around the world which has somehow eluded the attention of the ‘international community’.

Furthermore, the actual area inside the West Bank that’s being bickered over is much smaller than popularly understood. Built-up Jewish settlements account for a tiny fraction of the disputed territories. An estimated 70 percent of the settlers live in what are in effect suburbs of major Israeli cities such as Jerusalem. These are areas that virtually the entire Jewish population believes Israel must retain to ensure its security.

Probably the only net benefit to be reaped from the Oslo Accords is that their failure clarified what the true obstacle to peace between Israel and the Palestinians is and has always been. It is not the territories, nor the settlements, nor the settlers – but the very existence of Israel.  Recent history confirms this Arab intransigence: from 1949–67, when Jews were forbidden to live in the West Bank and “East” Jerusalem, the Arabs nonetheless refused to make peace with the “Zionist Entity”.

If it is not the settlements, then what is the true reason for this 45-year-old stalemate? While there are no easy answers, allowing the Jewish population in the territories to grow could arguably even serve as a catalyst for negotiations since the Palestinians would quickly realize that time is on the side of an Israel that is building settlements and creating facts on the ground.

Realizing this, Israel’s peace partners may finally acknowledge that the only way out of its dilemma is face-to-face negotiations, without preconditions such as the demand (met by Israel) to release Palestinian prisoners convicted of murder, attempted murder, or being an accessory to murder - many of whom identify with terrorist movements which reject peace with the Jewish state under any terms.

Ultimately, the disposition of settlements is a matter for final status negotiations. While one may legitimately support or challenge Israeli settlements in the disputed territories, they are not illegal, and demonizing Jews who live in communities across the green line is certainly not moral and does not help the peace process.  

Harriet Sherwood’s ‘obstacles to peace’ have neither the size, population, nor placement to have a serious impact on sincere efforts to reach a comprehensive agreement on all issues related to the disputed territories.

(Gidon Ben-Zvi is a Jerusalem-based writer who regularly contributes to Times of Israel and the Algemeiner)

England Announces Squad For Israel 2013

This is a guest post by Richard Millett

We are just three weeks away from the start of the UEFA Under-21 Football Championships in Israel and on Tuesday England announced its squad, which is full of exciting players who will be using the tournament to try to force their way into the England first team. 

Eight teams are going to Israel and they have been drawn into two groups:

Group A: Israel, England, Italy, Norway.

Group B: Spain, Germany, Holland, Russia.

England will play Italy in Tel Aviv on June 5th, Norway in Petah Tikvah on June 8th and Israel in Jerusalem on June 11th.

In the semi-finals the winners of Group A play the runners up of Group B and the runners up of Group A will play the winners of Group B. The final will be in Israel’s capital Jerusalem on June 18th.

It will be exciting to see Wigan’s Callum McManaman linking up with Wilfred Zaha (soon to be going to Manchester United) and a good test to see how the players cope in 80 degree heat with the prospect of World Cup Finals in Brazil in 2014 and Qatar in 2022.

It will also be a good test for Israel’s youngsters who will be trying to break into Israel’s first team. Israeli football is as strong as it has ever been. The first team is currently 2nd in their World Cup qualifying group for Brazil 2014 and was not far away from qualifying for the World Cup Finals in South Africa in 2010. It will be interesting to see the Avi Cohens, Ronny Rosenthals, Eyal Berkovichs and Yossi Benayouns of the future.

One would expect a Spain versus Germany final but let’s hope for it being England versus Israel with England winning the final on penalties. [ Ed: We''ll agree to differ on that last point!]

Let Cif Watch be your eyes and ears for the festival of football that kicks off on June 5th as we hope to have regular reports on the unfolding drama. 

The England Squad for Israel 2013 is:

Goalkeepers: Butland (Stoke), Steele (Middlesbrough), Rudd (Norwich)

Defenders: Caulker (Tottenham), Clyne (Southampton), Dawson (West Brom), Lees (Leeds), Rose (Sunderland, loan from Tottenham), Shaw (Southampton), Smith (Tottenham), Wisdom (Liverpool)

Midfielders: Chalobah (Watford, loan from Chelsea), Henderson (Liverpool), Ince (Blackpool), Lansbury (Nottingham Forest), Lowe (Blackburn), McEachran (Chelsea), McManaman (Wigan Athletic), Shelvey (Liverpool), Townsend (QPR, loan from Tottenham)

Forwards: Zaha (Crystal Palace, loan from Manchester United), Marvin Sordell (Bolton), Connor Wickham (Sunderland) 

 

 

 

Why wasn’t this comment deleted by ‘CiF’ moderators? ‘Nuke Israel’ edition (Updated)

A guest post by AKUS

The reader comment below (beneath the line of a Guardian editorial on the Syrian crisis), which suggests that Israel should be destroyed by arming its enemies with nuclear weapons, has remained up so far for almost 12 hours.

nukeAt least one commenter has complained to the Guardian with no results – almost 12 hours later.

complaint

Those familiar with CiF Watch would of course understand that this one example is indicative of a broader problem at ‘Comment is Free’.  As we’ve shown in countless posts, CiF moderators often demonstrate egregious double standards when determining which comments get deleted – decisions purportedly based on whether such comments violate their ‘Community Standards‘.

UPDATE: Shortly after our post, the comment was deleted by ‘CiF’ moderators.

Attacks against Jews on Yom HaShoah follow traditional antisemitic path

A guest post by AKUS

One of the grimly curious features of traditional antisemitism, in its most violent forms, has been the way antisemites frequently launched violence (including pogroms and ethnic cleansing) against Jews on Jewish holy days.

Jewish holidays, no matter how joyful or how sadly meaningful, have often been accompanied with a bitter memory of antisemitic violence.  The most famous example, of course, was the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans on Tisha B’Av which by chance or not, was also the date, 655 years earlier, of the destruction of the First Temple.

There are many other examples, from every period in recorded history.

On Saturday March 16, 1190, in York, England, on the special Shabbat before Passover (Shabbat Hagadol), many Jews taking refuge from an antisemitic mob were burnt to death, and the survivors massacred. Easter, which of course commemorates among other thing the Last Supper, which was a Passover Seder, has always been a favorite occasion for antisemitic riots by Christians inspired by their priests to believe that “the Jews killed Christ”. One well-known example was the three-day Kishinev pogrom that started on Easter Sunday, April 19th, 1903.  The infamous pogrom in Iraq on June 1, 1941, was coincided with the festival of Shavuot. Yom Kippur has also frequently been a day when Jews would fear antisemitic violence.

The Nazis, who obsessively studied the customs of the Jews they wished to exterminate, were especially skilled at timing their actions to coincide with Jewish holidays. For example, Nazi attacks against Jews often coincided with Jewish festivals such as Purim to “avenge” Jewish victories over their enemies. On Purim 1942, ten Jews were hanged in Zduńska Wola to avenge the hanging of Haman’s ten sons. In a similar incident in 1943, the Nazis shot ten Jews from the Piotrków ghetto. On Purim eve that same year, over 100 Jewish doctors and their families were shot by the Nazis in Częstochowa. The following day, Jewish doctors were taken from Radom and shot nearby in Szydłowiec.

Not to be outdone, modern cyber-haters, armed with the best technology they can acquire or create, also searched for a particularly meaningful day to attack the Jews. The group calling itself “Anonymous” decided that the most appropriate day to launch a cyber-pogrom against the Jews would be Holocaust Remembrance Day. Their goal was to “wipe Israel off the map of the Internet”.

#OpIsrael Screenshot

#OpIsrael Screenshot

Given the language they used in their announcements, there can be little doubt that they saw a connection between the attempt to murder every Jew physically in the Holocaust with an attempt to remove the ability of Israelis to use the Internet – even if, ironically, they were using technology that has been, in large part the fruit of Israeli development.

Despite their bravado, Israel was not particularly affected by their efforts. After all, trying to attack the world’s second-leading information technology powerhouse is not an easy task. Within hours, the “Operation Israel” attack site had been penetrated by Israeli hackers and was playing “Hatikvah” while websites affiliated with Hezbollah and the Syrian government were disabled through a distributed denial of service attack.

But this cyber attack was not the only attack against Israel on this solemn day. A Gazan group decided it would be the most appropriate day to attempt to kill Israelis gathered to commemorate the 6 million dead in the Holocaust by firing rockets at an evening commemorative service.

Somewhere in southern Israel, near the border with Gaza, a gathering of civilians was forced to scatter as Israel’s enemies, following the tradition of attacking precisely on a day which, if not holy in a religious sense, is the only day other than Yom Kippur in which Israel comes to a halt.

Here is what happened. For those not familiar with the sudden burst of sound, you first hear the sound of the kassam rocket being fired, then the automatic warning system broadcasts “Tseva Adom” and you will see children and adults scattering as they run for cover:

Yes, “Anonymous” and the Palestinians in Gaza did their best to continue the “tradition” of attacking Jews on their holy days.  The “new antisemitism” seems very much like the traditional version.

A letter to CiF Watch from the Guardian, via King Ahasuerus?

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Dear Mr Levick,

I am writing to inform you that we have been reviewing our codes of practice at ‘Comment is Free’ and have decided that closing your account and deleting your previous comments was unjustified.  We have therefore decided to re-open your account. Unfortunately your previous comments have already been removed from our systems and cannot be returned, but we would be happy to have you return to the below the line commentary.

Furthermore:

In the course of our review we came to several conclusions with regards to the character of the above the line writers at ‘Comment is Free’ and have reached a number of conclusions:

  1. We shall no longer be publishing commentary from contributors associated with terrorist groups.
  2. We will be seeking a greater breadth of above the line copy, including more commentary from Zionists.
  3. Our moderators have been instructed to adhere to the working definition of anti-Semitism as laid out by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency and to delete comments that do not adhere to this standard.  We have asked the Community Security Trust for help in this regard.

In short Mr Levick, thanks to organisations such as CiF Watch we have decided to fundamentally alter the way we approach contributions to ‘Comment is Free’ and the way that we deal with below the line comments.

Yours Sincerely

Natalie Hanman

Editor, ‘Comment is Free’ 

 

(This Purim Spiel was written by Marc Goldberg)

Revealed: CIA is reading your mail!

A guest post by Green Glenwald

purimAs part of my ongoing series about the way the CIA, the Mossad, the Zionists, the Obama administration, MSNBC, The New York Times, the Washington Post and the little green people under your bed are controlling your lives, this revelation should finally lay any doubts you might have to rest.

The CIA is reading your mail! 

Yes – the CIA, not content with sending drones from Afghanistan to Mali to kill innocent civilians, are using them to intercept the letters you should have received that contain tips for dodging their illegal activities and keeping your RPGs and human shields safe!

Without a doubt this represents the most outrageous proof of the prima facie illegal, warrantless mail-tapping, contrary to the Geneva conventions and international law (which only applies to the USA and Israel) that is one of the disgusting hallmarks of this administration and its relentless attempts to keep America insecure by creating thousands of new terrorist postmen.

This is happening under the direct management, right from the top, of the most evil administration this country has known. Wikileaks revealed, and now we have proof, that there are weekly meetings at the White House in what the people running this program call “the mailroom” (something they find amusing, no doubt) where the President himself selects the mail that will be intercepted and read.

A source on an unknown Internet TV channel where I appear weekly (we keep it secret so that the CIA and others cannot watch it and I can post little videos of myself talking to myself in this column) has revealed that Obama’s poor performance during the first debate with Mitt Romney was due to the fact that he was not trying to read his talking points, as many have assumed, but debating with himself as to which envelope he should open first.

As I learned in law school:

headline

… any person who—

…. knows, or has reason to know, that such device or any component thereof has been sent through the mail or transported in interstate or foreign commerce; or

(iv) such use or endeavor to use (A) takes place on the premises of any business or other commercial establishment the operations of which affect interstate or foreign commerce; or (B) obtains or is for the purpose of obtaining information relating to the operations of any business or other commercial establishment the operations of which affect interstate or foreign commerce; or

(v) such person acts in the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any territory or possession of the United States;

The President (who live in the District of Columbia, in case you did not know that) is clearly in violation of allowing al Qaeda to continue its regular business operations pursuant to the very laws he is sworn to uphold and should  be impeached.

Update:

Following publication of this article, I was asked for advice on how to defeat this program.

In case your envelope has been intercepted, here are a couple of tips from one that made it past the CIA’s illegal mail-tapping that have proven useful:

The document includes advice such as “hide under thick trees” (believed to be bin Laden’s contribution), and instructions for setting up a “fake gathering” using dolls to “mislead the enemy”. 

If dolls are not available in your cave or under your tree, make use of the local population – local women and children are convincing alternatives you should use to keep yourself safe.

 Happy Purim!

The Guardian takes note of a Middle Eastern country not involved in “rendition”

A guest post by AKUS

Controversy over the practice of “rendition” has been intense. In a recent article in the Washington Post, the Post described it as a CIA program “to detain and interrogate foreign suspects without bringing them to the United States or charging them with any crimes”

The Washington Post illustrated how widely the practice was implemented with a map in an article headlined: A staggering map of the 54 countries that reportedly participated in the CIA’s rendition program, drawn from a report by the Open Society Justice Initiative  that lists each country by name and describes that country’s participation in the program.

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In case you cannot make out one little country that did not participate in the program, here’s an extract from that map of a certain area of the world:

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See it now?

On the other hand, it does not take much effort to see other countries, frequent critics of Israel, with well-organized, well-funded groups constantly threatening it with boycotts, decrying its policies and so forth, and even supporting its enemies with weapons and money.

There was a February 5th, 2013 column in the Guardian about this, too: CIA rendition: more than a quarter of countries ‘offered covert support’ . To my surprise, the Guardian managed to take note of Israel’s absence from the list of 54 countries:

Other countries are conspicuous by their absence from the rendition list: Sweden and Finland are present, but there is no evidence of Norwegian involvement. Similarly, while many Middle Eastern countries did become involved in the rendition programme, Israel did not, according to the OSJI research.

I, on the other hand, took note of South Africa’s name on the list. After all, one of the calumnies thrown at Israel, and found on a daily basis in the Guardian CiF section in the threads to the endless articles decrying Israel for this or that,  is that it resembles an apartheid state.  South Africa’s government, influenced in some measure by its Muslim Indian constituency, is one of the few outside the Middle East that has made it government policy to support boycotts of Israeli product, academics, and cultural groups.  South Africa is often held up as an example of what the imaginary “one state” would look like after the Jewish state vanishes and “Palestine” exists “between the sea and the river”.

But never fear that Guardianistas could possibly leave Israel out of the issue.  After one post that noted that Israel did not participate in the program, there was this comment:

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The thread quickly filled up with comment after comment claiming that even though the report did not name Israel, and the Guardian specifically took note of that, Israel was just as bad or even worse.

Even when a report does not mention Israel, the appetite for condemnation of Israel among Guardian readers is so developed that rather than discussing, for example, South Africa’s involvement, even the absence of Israel quickly becomes the topic de jour. Or, as the following poster noted in response to a comment no longer visible:

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The Washington Post:

The 54 governments identified in this report span the continents of Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America, and include: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.

 

Palestinian textbooks erase Israel. Harriet Sherwood erases moral distinctions.

A guest post by Gidon Ben-Zvi

National_Education

1st Grade PA Textbook: “Map of Palestine”

In a recent report for the Guardian (Israeli and Palestinian textbooks omit borders, Feb. 4), Harriet Sherwood exposed Israel’s education system for the world, or at least her loyal readership, to see, noting that: “In Israeli textbooks, 76% of maps show no boundaries between Palestinian territories and Israel.

Once again succumbing to the bigotry of low expectations, Sherwood doesn’t take umbrage with repeated Palestinian incitement against Israel in public declarations, media and textbooks.

Instead, Sherwood serves the cause of absurd moral equivalency by implying that while Palestinian textbooks portray a world without Israel, refer to Jews as “Zionist gangs” and rewrite the Holocaust to ignore atrocities committed against Jews, Israel’s no better since it doesn’t recognize the non-existent borders of a country which doesn’t exist.  

Sherwood’s piece suggests that Israel is teaching hatred by virtue of the fact that its educational system doesn’t propagate the Palestinian national narrative, one which depicts the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 as an original sin that dispossessed the land’s native people. Over the years this Nakba narrative has metastasized into an international coalition of Islamists and leftists which celebrates the Palestinians as the quintessential “Other”, the last victims of Western racism and colonialism.

Sadly for Ms Sherwood and her fellow travelers, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”  So, beyond the guerrilla chic appeal of movements for social justice that are only heard if they are loudly anti-Western, and superficially pro-democratic – yet remarkably mute when it comes to the vast majority of crimes against humanity inflicted by the once colonized against their own people – here are some pesky facts to consider:

  •  Palestinian textbooks describe the land (from the river to the sea) as being comprised of Muslims and Christians. No mention is made of Jews or the centuries-old Jewish communities of Palestine. The city of Jerusalem is described as exclusively Arab. Israel is not recognized as a sovereign nation and all maps are labeled “Palestine.”
  • Former United States Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, a major proponent of the two-state solution, has said that the Palestinian school books do “…not give Palestinian children an education, they give them an indoctrination.”
  • Regarding the idea of a peaceful, demilitarized Palestinian state existing side-by-side next to Israel, Palestinian school books make no attempt to educate for peace or coexistence with Israel. Instead Israel’s right to exist is adamantly denied and the Palestinian war against Israel is presented as an eternal religious battle for Islam.

While Sherwood finds it noteworthy that school books of societies in conflict tend to contradict one another, she finds the following facts too inconsequential to even bear repeating:

  • Israel’s Ministry of Education has implemented many programs where Israeli and Arab students work together on joint projects in an effort to learn more about each other, their heritage and culture.
  • The Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (CMIP) issued a report covering the 2012 set of Israeli textbooks. The report showed that many textbooks focus on education towards reconciliation, tolerance and peace.  Peace is presented not only as a Utopian aspiration, but also as a reachable political goal.  The new textbooks give information about the peace agreements between Israel and Arab countries and the Palestinians, in particular on the question of the borders between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.   The Palestinians’ struggle is presented as that of a national movement whilst not identifying with their aims. The conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians continues to be presented as a clash between two national movements, thus legitimizing the existence of the Palestinian national movement. None of the new textbooks contains indoctrination against the Palestinians as a people.  

At its core the Palestinian liberation movement stands neither for the Palestinians nor liberation. It is very much defined by what it’s against: the sovereignty of the Jewish State over ALL lands seized, conquered or liberated (insert your preferred verb here…) from 1948 onward. Sherwood and her political fellow travelers realizes that since Palestinian independence needs to be created Ex nihilo – out of nothing – the only surefire way to do so is by undermining Israel’s legitimacy by a thousand cuts.

Today, it’s Israel’s education system. Rest assured that once school is out for the summer, Sherwood and like-minded fighters for freedom will dig up another half-baked canard, dust it off and fashion it into the latest whip to be inflicted upon Israel and its citizens.

Awaiting Hillary’s ‘robust’ condemnation of offensive cartoon

A Guest Post by AKUS

cartoonI am an admirer of both Hillary and Bill Clinton, and not only because both have been supportive of the American Jewish community and Israel. 

Bill Clinton worked tirelessly trying to bring a peaceful resolution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Hilary Clinton may go down as one of the most successful and influential Secretaries of State the US has known and has also worked hard – and as fruitlessly – to try to bring some closure to that conflict. Their daughter is married to a Jewish man, son of friends of theirs.

But this week, they and the branch of the US administration that Hillary heads have failed the Jewish community in the UK, and, indeed, around the world.

When some Muslims rioted across the world following the 2005 publication (in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten) of Mohammed cartoons, Bill Clinton was swift to respond, and absurdly compared cartoons depicting Mohammed to deadly anti-Semitic cartoons depicting Jews:

[Former President Bill] Clinton: “Totally Outrageous Cartoons Against Islam”

DOHA (AFP) – Former US president Bill Clinton warned of rising anti-Islamic prejudice, comparing it to historic anti-Semitism as he condemned the publishing of cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper.

“So now what are we going to do? … Replace the anti-Semitic prejudice with anti-Islamic prejudice?” he said at an economic conference in the Qatari capital of Doha.

“In Europe, most of the struggles we’ve had in the past 50 years have been to fight prejudices against Jews, to fight against anti-Semitism,” he said.

Clinton described as “appalling” the 12 cartoons published in a Danish newspaper in September depicting Prophet Mohammed and causing uproar in the Muslim world.

“None of us are totally free of stereotypes about people of different races, different ethnic groups, and different religions … there was this appalling example in northern Europe, in Denmark … these totally outrageous cartoons against Islam,” he said.

The (George W. Bush-era) State Department also weighed in on the Europeans’ cartoon controversy. It too hastened to reference anti-Semitism and claimed equivalence with the horrendously anti-Semitic cartoons that appear daily in Arab media:

Bush Administration on 2006 Danish Cartoons: “We Certainly Understand Why Muslims Would Find These Images Offensive”

The Muslim world erupted in anger on Friday over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad published in Europe while the Bush administration offered the protesters support, saying of the cartoons, ”We find them offensive, and we certainly understand why Muslims would find these images offensive.”

… The State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, reading the government’s statement on the controversy, said, ”Anti-Muslim images are as unacceptable as anti-Semitic images,” which are routinely published in the Arab press, ”as anti-Christian images, or any other religious belief.”

Still, the United States defended the right of the Danish and French newspapers to publish the cartoons. ”We vigorously defend the right of individuals to express points of view,” Mr. McCormack added.

When some Muslims rioted over a film made by an Egyptian born Copt living in America that mocked Islam, Hillary Clinton showed understanding for their anger:

HILLARY CLINTON: Anti-Muslim Film Is ‘Disgusting And Reprehensible’

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday called the film that helped provoke protestors to riot “disgusting and reprehensible.”

“Let me state very clearly — and I hope it is obvious — The United States government had nothing to do with this video. We absolutely reject its content and message,” Clinton said in a statement at a State Department.

Clinton said that the video’s intended purpose seemed to be inciting violence.

So now I ask – where is the condemnation from either Bill or Hillary Clinton or the US State Department that Hillary heads over the rabidly anti-Semitic cartoon that appeared in the UK’s Sunday Times on no other day than Holocaust Memorial Day?

Even if we agree that the concept of freedom of speech means that Scarfe can create and the Sunday Times publish anti-Semitism, why has Bill not found time to say something like this?

“None of us are totally free of stereotypes about people of different races, different ethnic groups, and different religions … there was this appalling example in Europe, in Great Britain … this totally outrageous cartoon directed at the Jewish people.”

Why hasn’t the State Department’s issued a statement with criticism such as this?

”We find the Sunday Times cartoon offensive, and we certainly understand why Jews would find these images offensive … anti-Semitic images are unacceptable.”

Why has Hillary not found the time to “absolutely reject” Scarfe’s cartoon as “disgusting and reprehensible … with the intent of inciting violence”?

Hillary – if it takes a village to raise a child properly, what does it take in our global village to get your attention to the increasing anti-Semitism that has become such a staple of European media and as weighty a condemnation of this “typically robust cartoon” by Gerald Scarfe” as Bill, you, and the State Department have found for other cartoons and a poorly made and initially widely ignored film promo?

The curious case of the Arab vote in the Israeli elections

A guest post by AKUS

Jerusalem Post, Jan. 21, 2013.Arab League to Israeli Arabs: Vote to stop the far right‘.

“The Arab League on Sunday called for Israeli Arabs to vote so that they can stop the establishment of a right-wing government “that will promote racist laws and ethnic cleansing.””

The Guardian: Wrong about everything. All the time:

“Silver Blaze”, Arthur Conan Doyle:

Gregory : “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”

At some point, if not already, someone is going to analyze the Arab vote in the recent Israeli elections once the excitement of playing “build the coalition” subsides.

Israel’s Arab demographic makes up about 20% of the population. If every Arab voter only voted for one or other of the Arab parties, all else being equal (e.g., the same proportion of adults eligible to vote in the Arab sector as in the non-Arab sector) the Arab parties would hold approximately 24 seats in the Knesset. Instead, it appears that they have 8 seats (United Arab list – Ta’al and Balad). Even adding in Hadash, which has a mix of Jewish and Arab communists, they have at most 12 seats.

So how did at least half and probably more than half of Israel’s Arabs vote? That is surely the most curious aspect of the recent election results.

We can rule out the right wing and orthodox Jewish parties.  Apparently, therefore, Israeli Arabs exercised their votes for the center and center-left parties, giving them the 12- 16 “missing seats”. Traditionally, Labor has had strong support in the Arab sector, and this may have helped them retain 15 seats in the new Knesset. One of Labor’s seats will be occupied by a Christian Arab woman, Nadia Hilou, of Jaffa. It is also likely, I would think, that Yesh Atid’s unexpectedly strong showing could be due to Arabs responding to its social and political messages of cooperation and equality.

Until an analysis of the Arab vote is available, and specially the missing Arab vote in the sense of missing from the Arab parties, I suggest it reinforces two major themes of this election.

One is that people in Israel, like every else, vote for their daily interests ahead of grand foreign policy issues. Young Arabs are just as likely to be concerned about their and their children’s futures. Issues like housing, jobs, financial security, and protection from the manic regimes surrounding Israel are as likely to be their top concerns as they are for non-Arab Israelis. In addition, they will be willing to vote for parties that accept them as equals and promise to make the effort to ensure equality is not just written into the laws, as it is, but practiced in daily life. They certainly are underwhelmed by the radical Arabs like Zuabi and Tibi.

The other is that, quite clearly, the Palestinian issue is not one that is the most pressing for a majority of Israel’s Arabs, even if they believe that Yesh Atid and Labor could be more accommodating to the possibility of creating a Palestinian State on the West Bank than the other Jewish parties. Polls have shown that a majority of Israel’s Arabs believe that they are better off in every way than they would be in the countries surrounding Israel. Polls held in towns and villages bordering the Green Line have demonstrated that Israel’s Arab have no desire and no intent to join a putative Palestinian state, should one ever arise on the West Bank. Put quite simply, they know where their bread is buttered, and it is not with the Gazans or West Bankers.

This was the curious incident in the last election – the Arab vote did nothing to reflect what so many treat as Israel’s primary concern – the future of the West Bank.

Thus, while the Guardian and the mainstream media – not to mention the EU and factions within the United States – agonize over the “two state solution”, Israel’s Arabs have made their own views quite plain. Their “missing seats” show that they are Israelis, not Palestinians, they are in Israel to stay, and wish to be part of what we can only hope will be a strengthening main-stream Israeli consensus formed by centrist parties such as Yesh Atid and Labor and a move away from the extremism of the Likud and Habayit Hayehudi.

 

Guardian readers, and Holocausts real and imagined

A guest post by AKUS

The Guardian’s attempt to provide a thoughtful and appropriate article about a praiseworthy attempt by UK footballers to provide schools with a serious and sensitive Holocaust educational film documenting what they learned from a trip to Auschwitz (‘England’s football stars feature in Holocaust educational video film for schools, Jan. 14), was quickly hijacked, as we noted earlier, by Holocaust deniers.

The first comment on the thread was a plea that the footballers’ efforts (and, presumably, reader comments) not be hijacked to demand “equal time” for other atrocities:

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Despite SantaMoniker’s plea anticipating what was to follow, in addition to the subsequent Holocaust denial comments CiF Watch captured which were eventually deleted, for one person simply denying the Holocaust wasn’t not enough. He demanded (comment now deleted) that the educational authorities invent a new one to provide some balance to the murder of 6 million Jews by the Nazis.

Yes – if English children are to learn about the Holocaust that actually happened, at least one reader, whose comment garnered recommendations, demanded that they learn about the non-existent Palestinian Holocaust.

2For this commenter, and those recommending his comment, as part of the campaign against Israel it is necessary to create a myth about a Palestinian history to reinforce the lethal narrative that the Jews, “who should know better”, have killed millions of Palestinians.

Visiting the thread now, about 12:40 pm UK time, the moderators have removed most of the presumably inappropriate comments. But the striking lack of empathy remains at least in this one, the last at the time this is written, which has been there for over an hour:

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Apparently for some people it will remain a mystery why “the jews will bang on forever about their persecution, because they are under the impression no one as suffered like they have”.  For some it is too difficult to comprehend that this mass murder was so horrific that the special term “Holocaust” had to be created to refer to it and in which modern technology was used to eliminate an entire people by killing as many as 6 million of them – and why the annoying survivors keep “banging on about it”.

It is also worth noting that while holocaust-denying comments remained on the thread for hours, beneath Rachel Shabi’s tendentious and morally pretentious commentary alleging Islamophobia by the “the power-brokers of Hollywood”, comments which didn’t abide by the Guardian Left script were quickly deleted.

The appearance of both articles on the same day, and the totally different level of comment moderation, demonstrates the bias of Guardian editors and those they employ to moderate the threads. 

How big is E-1? The geographic reality of an alleged “impediment to peace”

A guest post by AKUS

There’s been a lot of talk at the Guardian – and in the mainstream media - about the tiny area of land (known as ‘E-1′) outside Jerusalem (encompassing a mere 12 square kilometers of land out of more than 5,600 square kilometers of territory in the West Bank), so I thought it might be worth putting it in perspective:

Here’s a map showing E-1 taken from Ha’aretz (Q&A: What is area E-1, anyway?) which has the advantage of showing E-1 in bright red:

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Here is the same image overlaid on a true map of Jerusalem and surroundings.  The guide in the bottom left hand corner gives a better idea of the distances and area involved – about 2 miles/4km from central Jerusalem, and between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim:

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For clarity, here is the E-1 area extracted from the map provided by Ha’aretz and overlaid on the same map of Jerusalem and surroundings:

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By way of comparison, here is the E-1 area overlaid on a map of Manhattan – it is less than 4 times larger than Central Park:

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To make the scale of E-1 a little more obvious, let’s zoom out to include most of Manhattan and surroundings:

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And here is E-1 overlaid on a portion of the map of Israel to the same scale:

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Is the world-wide fuss over an area between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim, less than four times the size of Central Park, and a fraction of the size of Manhattan, that the Palestinians know will be included in the area of Israel if an agreement is ever reached, really worth making?