Jerusalem event: Israel, Hamas and media coverage of the war in Gaza

CAMERA public forum, “War By Other Means: Israel, Hamas and Media Coverage of Gaza”, will be held on Sunday November 9th at Jerusalem’s Menachem Begin Heritage Center.  The interactive panel discussion (to be hosted by Arnold Roth) will include CAMERA’s Israel Director Tamar Sternthal, Israeli columnist and author Ben-Dror Yemini, BBC Watch Managing Editor Hadar Sela, Professor Richard Landes and CAMERA Senior Researcher Gidon Shaviv.

We urge readers who are going to be in Jerusalem to attend.

Registration is necessary and can be done here.

war by other means

Unreported by the Guardian: Details on latest Palestinian prisoners to be released (& their victims)

BBC Watch managing editor Hadar Sela was responsible for most of the research and editing in the following post.

On December 28th the Israeli Prison Service published the list of prisoners scheduled for release later this week, representing the third round of four scheduled releases agreed upon by Israel’s prime minister as a ‘goodwill gesture’ to get the Palestinians to resume peace talks.

As we have noted previously, many newspapers (including the GuardianIndependent, and Irish Times) have whitewashed the violent crimes of the prisoners being released and all but ignored the victims.  So, in addition to details about the perpetrators and their crimes, we’ve also included some information on the Israeli (and Palestinian) victims.  

(You can see the complete list of pre-Oslo prisoners to be released – information which was translated, edited and published exclusively by CAMERA – here.)

Below is a translation of the list of the latest 26 prisoners scheduled for release with additional information:

Alefendi Mohammed Yusuf Adnan (born 1971) was sentenced to thirty years imprisonment for attempted murder, having stabbed and wounded two Israeli civilians with a kitchen knife. 

Sh’hade Farid Sh’hade Ahmed (born 1962) was sentenced to 45 years imprisonment for the murder of suspected ‘collaborator’ Yosef Farhan in Jaffa in 1985 and was due to be released in February 2030.  

Yacoub Mohammed Ouda Ramadan (born 1963, member of PFLP-GC) was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Sarah Sharon. 

Afana Mustafa Ahmed Mohammed (born 1964, member of PFLP-GC) was sentenced to forty years imprisonment for his part in the murder of Sarah Sharon and was due to be released in 2033. 

Da’agna Nofel Mohammed Mahmoud (born 1948, member of PFLP) was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Sarah Sharon. 

Mother of seven Sarah Sharon (photo right)was 38 years old when she was stabbed to death in Holon on January 20th 1993.

Abu-Alrub Mustafa Mahmoud Faisal (born 1969, member of Fatah) was sentenced to two life terms for the shooting and murder of Yoram Cohen and for beating Mohammed Kamil to death. He was also found guilty of the manslaughter of an additional four Palestinians suspected of ‘collaboration’. 

Kamil Awad Ali Ahmed (born 1962, member of Fatah) was sentenced to sixteen life terms for the murder of Yoram Cohen and fifteen Palestinians suspected of ‘collaboration’.

20 year-old IDF soldier Sgt. Yoram Cohen was shot and killed in an ambush on the truck in which he was travelling in Jenin in 1991. 

Damara Ibrahim Mustafa Bilal (born 1969, member of Fatah) was sentenced to life imprisonment for his part in the murder of Frederick Rosenfeld. 

48 year-old Frederick Steven Rosenfeld  (photo right) was murdered in June 1989. Rosenfeld was hiking in the hills near Ariel when he came across a group of shepherds who stabbed him to death with his own knife and hid his body. 

Abu Muhsan Khaled Ibrahim Jamal (born 1971, member of Fatah) was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Shlomo Yehia in 1991. 

Shlomo Yehia (photo left) was born in 1915 in Yemen and immigrated to Israel in Operation Magic Carpet. He settled in Moshav Kadima where he worked as a gardener even after reaching retirement age. On September 26th 1991 he went out to work as usual and was stabbed to death in a public park. Shlomo was 76 years old at the time of his death and was survived by his wife and six children.

Tamimi Rushdi Mohammed Sa’id (born 1972, member of Fatah) was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Chaim Mizrachi.

Chaim Mizrachi grew up in Bat Yam and Holon, later moving to Beit El. On Friday, 29th October 1993, he went to buy eggs from an Arab-owned farm near his home and was met by terrorists who fled in his vehicle after wounding him and stuffing him into the car’s trunk. The terrorists murdered Chaim, then burned and abandoned the vehicle north of Ramallah. Chaim was 30 at the time of his death, and was survived by his pregnant wife, his parents, his sisters, and his brother. Half a year after his murder, his daughter was born.  

Silawi Khaled Kamal Osmana (born 1972, member of Fatah) was sentenced to four life terms for the murder of Motti Bitton and three Palestinians suspected of ‘collaboration’. In addition, was also convicted of manslaughter of another Palestinian and took part in the violent interrogation of others. 

32 year-old father of three Motti Bitton (photo right) from Ganim was shot and killed whilst shopping with his wife Mali (who was injured in the attack) in a convenience store along the road from Jenin to Jezreel Junction.

Tzouafta Sudki Abdel Razak Muhlas (born 1974, member of Fatah) was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Yosef Ben Ya’akov Malkin (Malka). 

Yosef Malkin (Malka) (photo left) was murdered in his apartment on December 29th 1990 in Haifa by two infiltrators from Jenin. He was 60 years old at the time of his death and worked as manager of the industrial engineering department of a company in Haifa. 

Braham Fawzi Mustafa Nasser (born 1975, member of Fatah) was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of his former employer Morris (Moshe) Edri.

Morris Edri (photo right) was born in Marrakesh, Morocco in 1928 and immigrated to Israel in 1964 where he settled in Netanya. Morris worked in the pharmaceutical industry until his retirement due to ill-health and then worked in his son’s electrical shop. On November 24th 1991 he arrived at the shop in the morning to find a former employee waiting for him who claimed that he had left some clothes in the storeroom. Whilst Morris was making coffee, the former employee stabbed him in the back. He was 65 at the time of his death and was survived by his wife and nine children. 

Al Shalbi Yusuf Ahmed Nuaman (born 1971, member of Fatah) was sentenced to three life terms for the murders of Jamil Koftan Hasun, Mufid Ali Kna’an and Ahmed Ziud. 

Jaradat Mohammed Anis Ayman (born 1972, member of Fatah) was sentenced to four life terms for the murders of Jamil Koftan Hasun, Mufid Ali Kna’an, Mohamed Tawfik Jaradat and Ibrahim Said Ziud. Also convicted of the manslaughter of an additional Palestinian. 

On October 15th 1991 Jamil Hasun (photo left) from Daliyet el Carmel was celebrating his 32nd birthday. An operator of heavy machinery, he went that morning to pick up workers from a village near Jenin. There he was shot at point-blank range by two attackers. Jamil was survived by his wife and two children. 

Mufid Kna’an from Yarka went out hunting with friends near Jenin on January 15th 1992. There he was shot by two attackers. Mufid was 46 at the time of his death and was survived by his wife and six children. 

Shuamra Yunes Mohammed Naim was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Yossi Hayoun.

Yossi (Yosef) Hayoun was a police sapper who was killed whilst trying to disarm a bomb planted in Moshav Shekef in the Lachish area in June 1993. 

Mahmud Mohammed Salman was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Shai Shuker.

22 year-old Shai Shuker (photo right) from Herzliya was murdered on February 2nd 1994 near Tira. His attacker strangled him with a shoelace.

Abu-Gamal Ahmed Ibrahim Jamal was sentenced to twenty-two years imprisonment for attempted murder and was due to be released in May 2016.

Abu-Ali Faiz Mahmoud Ibrahim was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Roni Levi. 

Roni Levi (photo left) from Petah Tikva was saving up to get married and worked in marketing for a factory during the week and as a taxi driver at the weekends. On Saturday December 29th 1990 he was working an evening shift when radio connection with his taxi was lost. The blood-stained taxi was found the next day in Tel Aviv, but Roni’s body was only discovered three weeks later in an orchard. Roni was 24 years old at the time of his death. 

Barbach Judat Zaki Raami was sentenced to twenty-five years imprisonment for the murder of Yosef Zandani.

28 year-old Yosef Zandani (photo right) was strangled and stabbed to death in his home in Moshav Bnei Aiyish near Gadera on March 30th 1994.

Halaf Juma’a Mustafa Ahmed was sentenced to 21 years and three months imprisonment for aggravated assault and was due to be released in February 2014.

Abu Hasin Ahmed Yusef Bilal was sentenced to a thirty-six year term for the murder of Farouk Raud Abdelhamid Abu Khader and was due to be released in 2027.

Abu Hadir Mohammed Yassin Yassin was serving a twenty-eight year sentence for the murder of Yigal Shahaf and was due to be released in 2016.

Twenty-four year-old student Yigal Shahaf (photo left) from Jerusalem was shot in the head whilst walking through the Old City with his wife on October 10th 1987. He died the next day and was survived by his wife, parents, sisters and brother. 

Tsalah Khalil Ahmed Ibrahim (born 1960, member of Fatah) was sentenced to three life terms for the murders of Menahem Stern, Eli Amsalem and Hassan Zaid. 

Eli Amsalem (photo right) was born in Fez, Morocco and arrived in Israel with his family in 1957, where they settled in Jerusalem. Eli worked as a television technician. On July 28th 1989 he was murdered in his home near the Mahane Yehuda market. 

Muamar Atta Mahmoud Mahmoud (born 1961, member of Fatah) was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murders of Menahem Stern and Hassan Zaid.

Professor Menahem Stern (photo right) was born in Poland in 1925. He was an Israel Prize laureate and professor of history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He was 64 years old when he was stabbed by two terrorists whilst walking to work on June 22nd 1989. Professor Stern was survived by his wife and four children.

Taktuk Lufti Halma Ibrahim (born 1972, member of Hamas) was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Binyamin Meisner.

24 year-old reservist Binyamin Meisner was murdered in February 1989 by a group which lured him into an ally in Nablus (Schem) where they had pre-prepared a stockpile of rocks. Binyamin Meisner was killed by a blow to the head with a stone. 

What the Guardian won’t report: Details on 26 Palestinian terrorists to be released (and their victims).

The Guardian hasn’t yet published a report on the second round of prisoners who will soon be freed as part of a US-brokered deal for the resumption of peace talks. However, the Israeli Prison Service published a list (in Hebrew) of those 26 scheduled for release, so we’re posting the following information – translated and edited by Hadar Sela, managing editor of BBC Watch – on both the prisoners and their victims: 

Nasser Mohammed:  born in 1965, a member of Hamas and a resident of Judea & Samaria. Arrested in 1985 and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Aharon Avidar.

Karaja Rafaa: born in 1962, a resident of Judea & Samaria.  Arrested in 1985 and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Aharon Avidar.

Aharon (Roni) Avidar was born in Jerusalem and was a computer programmer. He was 29 years old when, in February 1985, he was shot by terrorists whilst on reserve duty guarding a government office in Al Bireh, near Ramallah. Roni was survived by his wife and daughter – his infant son had died some three months before he was murdered. 

Tsabbag Mohamed:  born 1974, a member of Fatah and a resident of Judea & Samaria was arrested in 1991 and sentenced to life imprisonment. Whilst a minor, he tortured and brutally murdered three local residents (Hassan Katbia, Lutfi Sa’adi and one other person) suspected of collaboration.

Shabbir Hazam: born 1974, a member of Fatah and a resident of the Gaza Strip was arrested in 1994 and sentenced to life imprisonment. As an initiation into a terror organization, together with an accomplice released in the previous round, he murdered a work colleague – Isaac Rotenberg from Holon – with an axe. 

Isaac Rotenberg

Holocaust survivor Isaac Rotenberg was born in Poland. Most of his family was murdered in the Sobibor death camp, but Isaac managed to escape and joined the partisans. After the war he tried to make his way by ship to mandate Palestine, but was interred by the British and sent to a detention camp in Cyprus until 1947. After his release Isaac arrived in pre-state Israel and fought in the War of Independence. He continued his work as a plasterer even after pension age and in March 1994 was at his place of work in Petah Tikva when he was attacked by two Palestinian labourers with axes. He died, aged 67, two days later. 

Amawi Halmi: born 1968, a member of Hamas and a resident of the Gaza Strip was arrested in 1993 and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Yigal Vaknin.

Yigal Vaknin

 22-year-old tractor operator Yigal Vaknin was stabbed to death in an orchard at his place of work in Moshav Batzra on September 24th 1993 (the eve of Yom Kippur), eleven days after the signing of the Oslo accords, when Halmi and an accomplice lured him with a request for help. Yigal, who grew up in Dimona, was survived by his parents and eight brothers and sisters.

Damouni Ahmed: born 1970, a member of Hamas and a resident of the Gaza Strip, was arrested in 1990 and sentenced to life imprisonment for his part in the lynching of reservist Amnon Pomerantz.

Amnon Pomerantz was an electrical engineer and scientist and worked in research and development. On September 20th 1990, Amnon left his home in Havatzelet Hasharon for reserve duty in Gaza. Three hours later, he was brutally murdered by a gang of Palestinian rioters after he took a wrong turn on the way to his base and accidentally entered Al Burj Refugee Camp. After they threw rocks at him, they poured gasoline on his vehicle and ignited it with Amnon inside. Amnon was 46 at the time of his death. He was survived by his wife and three children.

Reuven David

Reuven David was born in Iraq and was the owner of a mini-market in Petah Tikva. In May 1991, together with an accomplice who was released in the previous round, Matslaha entered 59 year-old David’s shop, tied him up, gagged him and then beat him to death, before escaping in the victim’s car. Reuven David left a wife, three children and several grandchildren. 

Abu Dahila Sharif: born 1955, a member of Fatah and a resident of Judea & Samaria, was arrested in 1992 for the murder of Avi Osher and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Avi Osher, aged 40 from Moshav Beka’ot in the Jordan Rift Valley was an agricultural instructor who also managed the date grove at Moshav Mesu’a. In June 1991 Avi was stabbed to death in that date grove by Abu Dahila, with whom he had worked for 15 years. Avi was survived by his wife Eilat and their two children. 

Gnimat Mustafa and Gnimat Ziad: both born 1962, both residents of Judea & Samaria and members of Fatah, were arrested in 1985 and each sentenced to life imprisonment for the murders of two Israeli civilians – Meir Ben Yair (33) and Michal Cohen (32) who were sitting in a car in Messu’a forest, near Beit Shemesh.

חזרה ל->

Guy Fridman

In December 1990 nineteen year-old Guy Fridman was killed and two other soldiers were injured in Bethlehem when bombs exploded in an ambush. He was survived by his parents and two brothers. 

Shakir Al Afu: born 1964, a member of Fatah and a resident of Judea & Samaria, arrested in 1986 and sentenced to life imprisonment for his part in the murder of Shaltiel Akiva.

On the eve of Pessach 1985, Sgt. Shaltiel Akiva, aged 21, arrived home from Lebanon to spend the holiday with his family in Rosh HaAiyn. However, he was immediately called back to his base in Samaria. On April 6th he set out to visit his family but en route was kidnapped and strangled to death by a terrorist cell. His body was found two days later near Beit Ariyeh. He was survived by his parents and five siblings. 

Yosef Shirazi

Yosef Shirazi (62) was born in Baghdad and immigrated to Israel in 1950. He resided in Eilat where he had just begun working as a security guard for the Hebrew Unversity’s marine biology research centre when he was shot at close range by members of a terror cell who had swum from Aqaba in Jordan to Eilat with the intention of carrying out a terror attack.  

Mukbal Najah: born 1966, a member of Fatah and a resident of Judea & Samaria, was arrested in 1990 and sentenced to 38 years imprisonment for the murder – together with an accomplice – of Ya’akov Shalom. He was due for release in July 2028.

Ya’akov Shalom was born in Jerusalem in 1949 where he studied law after his military service. In later years he opened a restaurant in Ein Kerem and it was in the flat above the restaurant that he was stabbed to death in May 1990 by two of his employees. 

Yusef Hazaa: born in 1967 and a resident of Judea & Samaria, arrested in 1985 and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murders of two civilians

In July 1985, whilst a minor and together with an accomplice, he murdered two Israeli teachers from a school in Afula on a preparatory hike in a JNF forest on the Gilboa mountains. 35 year-old father of five Yosef Elihau was shot at close range and 19 year-old National Service volunteer Leah Almakayis was strangled.

Genia Friedman

Genia Friedman immigrated to Israel from the Ukraine in 1991. She was 41 years old when, in February 1992, she was stabbed to death on a main street in Kfar Saba, where she lived. The terrorist also stabbed and injured her father and two other people. 

Abdel Aziz Ahmed: born 1973, a resident of Judea & Samaria, arrested in 1993 and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Motti Bitton. He planned, initiated and carried out the attack in October 1992 which led to the death of 32 year-old father of three Motti Bitton from Ganim and the injury of his wife, Mali Bitton whilst they were shopping in convenience store along the road from Jenin to Jezreel Junction.

Abu Hanana Usama: born 1974, a member of Fatah and a resident of Judea & Samaria. Arrested in 1992 and sentenced to life imprisonment for his part in the murder of Motti Bitton (see above) and the injury of his wife by throwing an explosive device at her.

Turkeman Mohamed: born 1973, a member of Fatah and a resident of Judea & Samaria. Arrested in 1992 and sentenced to life imprisonment for shooting and killing Motti Bitton (see above) and shooting and injuring the deceased’s wife who got out of her vehicle to help her husband. 

Revital Seri

Revital Seri (22) and Ron Levy (23) were both students at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In October 1984 they were hiking near the Cremisan monastery when they were attacked by Abed Rabbo (whose mother was honored by Mahmoud Abbas earlier this year), tied up and shot to death at close range with a stolen weapon. 

Aashur Mohamed:  born 1960, resident of Judea & Samaria, arrested in 1985 and sentenced to 30 years imprisonment (scheduled release date May 2017) for murder and grievous bodily harm.

Together with two accomplices, he shot 33 year-old taxi driver David Caspi in the head whilst he was driving them through the neighbourhood of Shuafat and then dumped his body by the side of the road. David Caspi left a wife and two daughters.

While in prison he was involved in the assault and injury of another prisoner. 

Ian Sean Feinberg

Ian Sean Feinberg was born in South Africa and immigrated to Israel after finishing High School. Having qualified in law before his enlistment, he spent five years serving as a lawyer in the Gaza Strip and was later involved professionally with Palestinian economic development as a legal advisor. On April 18th 1993, during a business meeting in the Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City, terrorists burst into the room announcing that they had ‘come to kill the Jew’. They then murdered him with gunshots and an axe. Ian was 30 at the time of his death. He was survived by his wife and three children.

Shimon Cohen

Shimon Cohen, who was 71 years old when he was killed in the terror attack on Mahane Yehuda market, was a sixth generation Jerusalemite who was born in the Old City in 1920. After his retirement from the family’s fish stall in the same market, he used to visit friends there frequently. 

Beni- Hassan Othman: born 1966, resident of Judea & Samaria, member of Fatah. Arrested in 1985 and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murders of Yosef Eliyahu and Leah Almakayis (see above).

Samarin Asrar: born 1969, a member of Fatah and a resident of Judea & Samaria. Arrested in 1992 and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Tzvi Klein and for attempted murder.

Tzvi Klein

Tzvi Klein was born in 1947 in Czechoslovakia. A mathematician and an educator, he made his home in Ofra, teaching and also active at the pedagogic centre of the Binyamin council.

On the first day of Hannuka 1991, he was travelling from Jerusalem to Ofra when shots were fired at his vehicle. Tzvi was fatally injured in the head, a passenger was also injured and his daughter who was also travelling with him was unharmed. 44 years old at the time of his death, Tzvi was survived by his wife and three children. 

 

‘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.

iran

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.

Guardian misleads on Israeli Druze, part 2: Unreliable Sources

In our previous post about a report by Phoebe Greenwood in the Guardian (‘Golan Heights braces for war as tensions rise between Syria and Israel, May 31) we exposed two errors.  The report grossly inflated the number of Druze in the Golan Heights (there are 20,000, not 80,000 as Greenwood claimed), and also falsely alleged that Druze is an “Islamic sect” when it is in fact a unique monotheistic religion which departed from Islam around the 11th century. 

As we noted in our last post (as a bit of background), Majdal Shams is one of the four Druze communities in the Golan Heights, with a population of about 9,000. After capturing the Golan Heights during the Six Day War, Israel offered all the Druze people living there citizenship—an offer most turned down. However, they all carry Israeli ID cards and are free to live, travel, work, and seek higher education anywhere in the Jewish state.

SONY DSC

Majdal Shams (Photo courtesy of Hadar Sela)

However, in addition to these factual errors, Greenwood’s report on the precarious position of residents of the Israeli-Syrian border town of Majdal Shams – in the context of a Syrian civil war which has already spread to Lebanon and now threatens Israel’s northern communities – relies largely on a Druze who she fails to fully identify.

Greenwood writes the following:

“We are in a very special situation. We are lucky our village wasn’t destroyed in 1967 because Israel considers us Druze so we are not a target for them. We are Syrian so we are not a target for Syria or for Hezbollah. We are like an island in this region,” explains Dr Maray Taisseer [sic], a consultant at the Majdal Shams medical centre and community spokesperson.

Leaving aside the risible claim that the Syrian Druze community in the Golan wouldn’t ever be targeted by the Iranian sponsored Shiite Islamist movement or the regime of Bashar Assad because neither would dare target ‘Syrians’, it’s misleading to refer to Dr. Taisseer Maray (Greenwood conflated his first and last names) as a “community spokesman”.  

Maray, Greenwood primary source, is in fact the director of a highly politicized, pro-BDS NGO, Golan for Development, and has stated his opposition to the existence of a Jewish state within any borders.

Greenwood then quotes Maray further:

The war, if it comes, may not be a disaster, Taisseer suggests, if it delivers Golan back into Syrian hands.

“Whatever happens in Syria, everyone agrees we should be liberated – it doesn’t matter whether it’s by regime or rebel forces. This is Syrian land and that is clear,” he states unequivocally.

However, as my colleague Hadar Sela (a longtime resident of the Golan) observed, it’s clear to those who have truly gotten to know the Druze of Majdal Shams over a number of years that ‘everyone’ does not agree.  The vast majority of Druze there have family in Syria and they’re likely terrified about their safety. Hence, every word they say, Sela argued, “is likely measured because they know full well that a wrong word in the media may have serious consequences.”

Further, as Middle East analyst Michael Totten has observed about the Golan Druze in World Affairs Journal:

[Druze are] loyal to whoever is in charge of the country they live in…The Druze on the Golan are no different from Israeli or Lebanese Druze in this way, but their political geography is different. Though they’re governed by Israel now, they may be governed again by Syria later. So even though Israel offers them citizenship, most haven’t taken it. They’re afraid of the consequences if Syrian rule ever returns.

Also quite noteworthy are comments by the mayor of Majdal Shams, Dolan Abu-Salah, who suggested in an interview in 2012 that living in Israel was a “privilege”.  Abu-Salah went on to boast that, by living in the state of Israel, “we [Druze] enjoy all the benefits of a very democratic regime. We pay taxes. And we get excellent social benefits.”

Shefaa Abu Jabal, a prominent Majdal Shams Druze spokesperson (and anti-Assad activist) explained in an interview with Dissent Magazine last summer that though her heart may long emotionally for Syria, she is “100 percent aware that thanks to my education that I received here in Israel I can express my opinion more freely”. Indeed, last July Abu Jabal passed the Israeli bar after graduating from Haifa University Law School—the first Syrian Druze woman resident of Israel to graduate from an Israeli university.

shefa-golan

Shefaa Abu Jabal in Majdal Shams

Just two weeks after Abu Jabal uttered those words, she emailed the journalist at Dissent to say that she had deactivated her Facebook page. She needed to “be out of the spotlight” for a while, and “to protect her allies living under Assad“.

Whilst it may be difficult to determine with any degree of empirical certainty how “most” Druze in Majdal Shams feel about the war in Syria, or their Israeli identity, Greenwood’s story – and her reliance on selected “spokespersons” – represents a good example of the risks of taking reports by Guardian journalists who are compromised by preconceived narratives about the region at face value.

IDF stymies Harriet Sherwood’s obsessive coverage of Israeli conscientious objector

Conscientious objectors have been with us as long as there have been wars, and the fact that there are a few Israelis who claim this status in an attempt to exempt themselves from the state’s universal conscription is not at all surprising. Yet the story of one such objector, Nathan Blanc, seems to have especially captivated the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent, Harriet Sherwood.

Blanc is a Haifa resident who, in 2012, reported to the IDF induction center but refused assignment to an army unit due to his objections to Israeli policies.  Blanc has been imprisoned for a total of 177 days at a military prison (based on ten separate arrests for continuing to refuse to serve) before the IDF recently allowed him to do alternative non-military service instead.

Over a two month period Sherwood has published three reports and over 1500 sympathetic words about Blanc’s case, including a piece yesterday about the decision by the IDF exemption committee “to allow Blanc to undertake a period of civilian service in lieu of a three-year stint in the army”.

sherwoodAs my colleague Hadar Sela observed in a post about Sherwood’s previous report on Blanc, in contrast to the Guardian, the story has barely registered on the radar of the Israeli media, but has been “energetically promoted by a plethora of fringe far-Left Israeli [groups], including Amnesty International IsraelNew Profile,Kibush‘ and…the anti-conscription group Yesh Gvul“.

In comparison, Sherwood only saw fit to devote one report on the lethal terrorist attack, in late April, on an Israeli man named Eviatar Borovzky – whose human rights were violated when he was stabbed to death by a Palestinian as he waited for a bus – and even that managed to refer to the victim in the pejorative, in both the text and in the strap line.

settler

The report also devoted a majority of the text to the unrelated IDF killing of a global jihad-affiliated terrorist in Gaza, with only 6 of 21 passages (encompassing 316 words) focusing on the murder of Borovsky.

We’ll of course never know how much additional coverage Sherwood would have devoted to the case of Nathan Blanc if the IDF didn’t allow him to opt out of regular military service, so whilst Israel’s Military Prison Number 6 has lost an inmate, it seems that Harriet Sherwood has lost an Israeli protagonist. 

Guardian & BBC got the death of Omar Misharawi wrong: But, nothing will change.

They all got the story wrong.

The Washington Post, The Daily Mail, The Sun, The TelegraphThe Huffington Post, MSN, YahooCBC News, and, of course, the BBC and the Guardian (among others), all accused Israel of firing a missile, during the November Gaza war, at a house east of Gaza City which killed the 11 month old son of BBC Arabic journalist Jihad Misharawi and his sister-in-law. (Misharawi’s brother also later died of wounds suffered in the blast.)

Here’s the Guardian’s Roy Greenslade on Nov. 15.

roy

Greenslade opens with the following:

The 11-month-old son of a BBC staffer was killed yesterday during an air strike by the Israeli army on the Gaza strip.

Here’s a Nov. 15 Guardian report by Paul Owens and Tom McCarthy:

owens

Note: Guardian caption is incorrect. The infant’s name is Omar. Ahmad is the brother of Jihad Misharawi.

The story began thusly:

A grim new feud opened up on social media on Thursday as pictures were traded of babies who died or were injured during the conflict in Gaza.

Pictures emerged of BBC cameraman Jihad Misharawi’s 11-month-old son Omar, who was killed on Wednesday during an Israeli attack. Misharawi’s sister-in-law also died in the strike on Gaza City, and his brother was seriously injured.

Harriet Sherwood reported the following on Dec. 11, in a follow-up on the aftermath of the war:

harriet

Of course, the death of an infant is always a horrible tragedy and anyone would be moved by images of Jihad Misharawi’s unimaginable grief.

However,  as with any story deemed worthy of attention by professional journalists, facts matter – and, in contrast with the MSM, others in the blogosphere were skeptical about the veracity of the accepted narrative. 

Elder of Ziyon and BBC Watch (and other blogs) were among those who examined the evidence and suggested the possibility that Omar Misharawi was killed by an errant Palestinian rocket.  

Elder noted that “the hole in the ceiling look a lot like what Qassam rocket damage looks like when they hit homes in Israel” and that the photos of the building where the child was killed looked nothing like the damage to Gaza buildings from Israeli airstrikes.

BBC Watch’s Hadar Sela noted, on Nov. 25, that the “BBC has doggedly avoided conducting any sort of investigation whatsoever into the subject of Palestinians killed or injured by at least 152 known shortfalls of rockets fired by [Palestinian] terrorists during [the Gaza war].”

Their skepticism was well-founded.

On March 6th 2013 the UNHRC issued an advance version of its report on the November war and Elder of Ziyon thoroughly read the whole thing. The report states on page 14 that a UN investigation found that:

“On 14 November, a woman, her 11-month-old infant, and an 18-year-old adult in Al-Zaitoun were killed by what appeared to be a Palestinian rocket that fell short of Israel.” [emphasis added]

A Palestinian rocket killed baby Omar, Hiba (the sister-in-law of Jihad) and Ahmed (Jihad’s brother who later succumbed to his wounds).

Whether or not the BBC, Guardian and others will revise their stories to note that Gaza terrorists (and not the IDF) were responsible for the death of Omar, Hiba and Ahmed Misharawi, Sela made the following point:

It is impossible to undo the extensive damage done by the BBC with this story. No apology or correction can now erase it from the internet or from the memories of the countless people who read it or heard it.

Sela, in her Nov. 25 post, argued that, “The tragic story of Omar Misharawi [was] used and abused to advance a very specific narrative of Israel as a killer of children.”

In short, when it comes to the activist media’s mad rush to judgement on every alleged Israeli sin, regardless of whether new facts contradicting the original conclusions are eventually revealed, nothing will be learned.  

Lethal Narratives concerning the Jewish state’s ‘villainy’ will continue unabated.

Nothing will change. 

Surprise, surprise! Jon Donnison’s fauxtographic Tweet partner is a Guardian journalist

In a BBC Watch post which went viral  – the effects of which are still reverberating today – Hadar Sela reported on a Tweet by BBC Gaza correspondent Jon Donnison with a photo he erroneously claimed was that of a dead child in Gaza.

The incorrect information sent to 7,971 of Donnison’s followers was originally Tweeted  by Hazem Balousha – a Palestinian ‘journalist and social activist’ – and included the photo with the words “Pain in Gaza”, to which Donnison added his own commentary – “Heartbreaking”.

However, blogger Adam Holland replied to Donnison, informing the BBC journalist that the photo was not from Gaza – but, rather, from Syria.

Donnison later acknowledged his mistake and deleted the Tweet.

However, in addition to the sloppy journalism by Donnison, the man who originally Tweeted the photo of the child, whose judgment Donnison trusted, has an interesting background himself.

Hazem Balousha is a Palestinian Journalist & social activist based in Gaza, and founder of Palestinian Institute for Communication & Development Palestine/Germany ‘ – an organization based in the Rimal District in Gaza

Quite interestingly, Balousha is also a Guardian journalist who has co-written pieces with Harriet Sherwood, Peter Beaumont and Chris McGreal – and was described as a “colleague” by the Guardian’s Richard Adams in a live blog on the Palestine Papers in 2011.

McGreal’s Jan 7, 2009 report written with Balousha – which McGreal cited in a recent report, on Nov. 23, 2012 – suggested, without any proof, that Israeli soldiers beat Palestinians in front of the their children to humiliate them, and even resurrected the Al-Durra libel in service of a broader narrative suggesting that IDF cruelty towards Palestinians “draws many into the cult of [suicide bombing] the ‘martyr'”.

The overwhelming majority of Balousha’s pieces at the Guardian were published between Dec. 28 2008 and Jan. 19, 2010, focusing on the suffering (most by children) during Cast Lead.  However, he also contributed prior to the war and, in an article he wrote in 2007, for instance, he admitted to having an eldest brother close to Hamas.

Much of his Guardian work explores the theme of dead children, and children otherwise victimized by the Israeli military, and many of Balousha’s tweets include pictures of dead or injured Palestinian kids. (Many of these pictures are from a photographer named Ashraf Amra, an activist who has a history of using children to engage in photographic propaganda.)

Interestingly, on Nov. 21, two days after the scandal involving Donnison’s Tweet, while the war was still raging, Balousha wrote a story at Deutsche Welle titled ‘Israel and Palestinians wage social media war‘.

Here’s a passage from his report:

“False information about the current war is also being spread via Twitter and Facebook – pictures of dead children, for example, that are actually from Syria. That angers [Gaza activist] Ebaa Rezeq. “We have to stick to the truth, or no one is going to believe us any more.” Ulla Papajak also believes that pictures and information need to be verified for accuracy – even if he also understands that there is no time to do so.”

It would be interesting to know if he and Donnison were similarly angry at themselves for casually propagating patently false information (to nearly 8,000 followers) about the horrific death of a child.

Hadar Sela, managing editor of BBC Watch, said:

“The reliance of Western media outlets upon local staff for information, translation and introductions is not a new phenomenon. Neither is the fact that some of those local journalists may have additional connections to regional actors, as was apparent a decade ago during the second Intifada. But as technology advances and social media increasingly cuts out the ‘middle man’ between the journalist and the audience, it is obvious that editors and journalists shoulder a greater responsibility for checking the reliability – and motives – of their local staff and sources.” 

Such journalist activists – whether they’re at the Guardian or the BBC – are risking more than their own reputations.  If Guardian and BBC editors continually allow their journalists to make such egregious errors with impunity, and report the news in a manner resembling political advocacy rather than professional journalism, whatever remaining credibility they may have will continue to erode. 

Increasingly, as Gaza activist Ebaa Rezeq noted, “no one is going to believe [them]“.

The launch of BBC Watch

Fans of this blog have often asked why we do not monitor British media institutions other than the Guardian for anti-Israel bias – a query to which we have not had an answer. 

Until now.

Recognising the importance of the BBC in shaping world-wide opinion, a new site, BBC Watch, has been launched which will monitor BBC coverage of Israel and the Middle East.

BBC Watch – a sister project of CiF Watch with the independent support of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) – will provide comprehensive monitoring of the BBC’s coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict in order to ensure adherence to the BBC’s own editorial guidelines.

A few of the more egregious problems at the BBC will be familiar to many CiF Watch readers:

Inspired by CiF Watch’s success in holding the Guardian accountable, BBC Watch will strive to curb the spread of inaccurate or misleading information and distortions at the BBC by fact-checking and providing relevant historical context and complimentary information .

In the case of an organisation as widely viewed, heard and trusted as the BBC, it is vital that misinformation be corrected before it spreads world-wide.

CiF Watch’s Hadar Sela, Managing Editor of the new BBC Watch site, explained the new site’s mission:

“Two organisations which formerly monitored BBC output – ‘Just Journalism’ and Trevor Asserson’s ‘BBC Watch’ website – have ceased operations in recent years, exacerbating the need for close and regular monitoring of the world’s most influential broadcaster”.  BBC Watch will seek to build upon and develop the work already done by those organisations in order to continue the monitoring of BBC output on the subject of Israel and to examine the broadcaster’s adherence to its legal obligation to produce accurate and impartial reporting as a service to its funding public.”

The BBC’s responsibility, as defined in the Royal Charter, includes the obligation to inform its funders – i.e. the license fee-paying British public.  This obligation is emphasized in the agreement between the BBC and the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport:

“In developing (and reviewing) the purpose remit for sustaining citizenship and civil society, the [BBC] Trust must, amongst other things, seek to ensure that the BBC gives information about, and increases understanding of, the world through accurate and impartial news, other information, and analysis of current events and ideas.”

BBC Watch intends to diligently hold the BBC accountable to this standard.

Updates can be received via Twitter @bbcwatch and Facebook at www.facebook.com/bbcwatch.

The UN, Ahmadinejad and atonement

The following essay, by Hadar Sela, was published at The Commentator

Most of us would probably like to believe that in this modern age we are better prepared than our grandparents and great-grandparents were in the task of avoiding the kind of mass carnage which the League of Nations failed to prevent and which shocked the world into dissolving that body and establishing the United Nations in its place in the aftermath of the Second World War.

As the preamble to the United Nations charter reads:

“We the peoples of the United Nations determined: to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small…”

However, on Wednesday this coming week – a mere 67 years since those fine words were written – the President of Iran will yet again stand on the UN podium.

Ahmadinejad has his plans in sight

Chillingly, the very body established as a result of the world bearing witness to the consequences of racial hatred and genocide will host an anti-Semitic denier of that same genocide.

Shamefully, a regime which fails to uphold that organisation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, even towards its own citizens, will be honoured with the right to address its General Assembly.

Shockingly, the representative of a regime which, according to the founder of “Genocide Watch”, Professor Gregory Stanton, has already taken six steps along the eight-step route to perpetrating yet another genocide, will be allowed to address the family of nations as an equal – despite the fact that the UN’s own Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide makes incitement to genocide illegal.

Read the rest of the essay, here.

From Burgas to London

The following was written by Hadar Sela, and originally published at Harry’s Place

Kochava Shriki was pregnant with her first child after years of fertility treatments and was on holiday with her husband Yitzhak. Elior Priess and Maor Harush, both from Acco, were childhood friends. Itzik Kolengi became a father four months ago. He and his wife Gilat – who was seriously wounded in the attack – had gone to Burgas for a long weekend with their friends Amir and Natali Menashe. Natali was also wounded.

All these people were targets of terror because of the simple fact that they are Jews.

That is what it boils down to. And – although it ought to be so obvious that it should not need spelling out – that is the bottom line of what people such as Clare Short and George Galloway who visit and collaborate with Hizballah ultimately excuse.

In less than a month’s time – on August 17th – the Iranian-backed, Charity Commission approvedUN recognised, pseudo human-rights organisation known as the IHRC will be holding its annual Al Quds Day festival of hatred in London.

Yet again, we are likely to see Hizballah flags and pro-Iranian regime paraphernalia on the streets of Britain’s capital city, together with incitement from the regime’s usual apologists.

Until the British government stops turning a conciliatory eye to this and the many other terrorism support networks operating openly in the UK, its pro forma condemnations of terror will remain nothing more than empty rhetoric.

It really is that simple.

Olympic Committee spurning of memory of murdered Israeli athletes is no suprise

The following was written by Hadar Sela, and published at The Commentator:

It is by now pretty clear that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has no intention of changing its stance on the subject of the modest request for a minute’s silence to commemorate the eleven Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian terrorists forty years ago at the Munich Olympics.

IOC President, Jacques Rogge

In his letter of response to the request, IOC President Jacques Rogge wrote:

“What happened in Munich in 1972 strengthened the determination of the Olympic Movement to contribute more than ever to building a peaceful and better world by educating young people through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit.”

But of course the real message which Rogge and his committee are transmitting loud and clear to the young people they claim to educate is that the ‘Olympic spirit’ is craven in the face of political pressures and that the IOC considers a ‘peaceful and better world’ to be one in which terrorism is appeased and overlooked.

That message, however, is neither new nor surprising.

The background to Rogge’s current stance begins with the fact that just eight years after Munich, Yasser Arafat – under whose leadership the PLO created the Black September terrorist group which carried out the murders – attended the 1980 Olympic games in Moscow at the invitation of the Soviet government and with an apparent blind eye from the IOC.

It continues with the Palestine Olympic Committee’s acceptance to the Olympic Council of Asia just 13 years after the terror attack and the IOC decision to accept Palestine as a full member in 1995, despite the fact that Arafat headed the Palestine Olympic Committee in its early days.

Palestine’s first ever Olympic participant (at the 1996 Atlanta games) held a day job with Force 17 – Arafat’s elite security unit – which also engaged in terror attacks. Force 17 was founded and initially commanded by Ali HassanSalameh, who was also chief of operations for Black September.

One of Force 17’s more notable alumni is Imad Mughniyah – who later went on to join Hizballah.

Today, the Palestine Olympic Committee is headed by Jibril Rajoub – himself no stranger to terrorism, having joined Fatah in his youth and been convicted of throwing a grenade at Israeli soldiers in 1970. Rajoub was released from prison in 1985 under the ‘Jibril deal’  prisoner exchange with the PFLP-GC.

His repeated re-arrest for terrorist activities and his role as organiser in the first Intifada caused him to be deported to Lebanon in 1988. From there he moved to Tunis, where he was the aide and advisor of Khalil al Wazir – aka Abu Jihad – the commander of Black September in the early 70s.

Read the rest of the essay, here.

Why is the ‘liberal’ Guardian still rooting for a reactionary antisemitic Islamist named Raed Salah?

The Guardian’s infatuation with Raed Salah is not new. When the story of his arrest in the UK  broke last year, the paper produced a plethora of articles, all eerily similar in their support for Salah and his British patrons and in the whitewashing of who Salah is (the various articles  uniformly described  him as a ‘Palestinian activist’) and what he stands for.

The Guardian’s Ian Black went so far as to describe the organisation its cause celebre heads in the following anodyne terms:  

“The Islamic Movement campaigns for the rights of those citizens who refer to themselves as the “Arabs of 1948″ – those left behind while 700,000 others became refugees when Israel was founded. It fights discrimination and campaigns for the right of Palestinian refugees to return, as well as against house demolitions and expulsions in Jerusalem.”

Notably, the Guardian failed to report the fact that Raed Salah lost an appeal against the deportation order in October 2011.

Now however, in the wake of the recent decision by the UK immigration tribunal judge, the Guardian is back on the case, with two articles (so far) on the subject in one day.  Along the way, the Guardian did not miss the opportunity to lash out once again at the CST, quoting David Miller and apparently having learned little from the last time it relied upon information provided by that known purveyor of outlandish conspiracy theories .

There are many reasons why a newspaper which likes to describe itself as both ‘Left’ and ‘liberal’ should not be trumpeting the cause of the leader of a religious ultra-nationalist movement which practices ethnic separatism, sex segregation and suppression of the rights of homosexuals, women and religious and ethnic minorities.

One of those reasons is that Raed Salah and his Northern Islamic Movement stand for everything which the liberal Left supposedly abhors. But the Guardian’s puerile ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’ stance means that it is dazzled by the fact that Salah is feted in anti-Israel circles as a leading ‘activist’, and so it is prepared to sell out its once firmly held Leftist and liberal principles and avoid exposure of Salah’s real background and agenda at all costs.

In 2003 the Or Commission – appointed by the State of Israel to investigate the riots of October 2000 in which 12 Arab Israelis, one Jewish Israeli and one Palestinian were killed – published its report.

 “..thousands of demonstrators paralyzed the country, destroying Jewish property and attacking Jewish citizens on Israel’s main roads. In a number of instances Jewish citizens were just inches from death at the hands of an unrestrained mob.” One elderly Jewish man, Jan Bechor, was stoned to death as he sat in his car at an intersection on one of Israel’s main roads. The report also documented the use of firebombs, gunfire, rocks, and slingshots against both Israeli citizens and police.”

The report noted the incitement within the Arab sector which preceded the deadly riots:

“On September 18, 2000, two weeks prior to the outbreak of violence, more than 35,000 Israeli Arabs attended the seventh annual Northern Islamic Movement “peace” rally on the theme: “Al Aksa [Mosque] is in Danger,” hosted by Um el Fahm Mayor Sheikh Raed Salah. “

“Salah reportedly told the crowd, “the Islamic world has exclusive rights to all the holy sites in Jerusalem and Israel has none.” The crowd responded with the chant, “In spirit and blood, we shall redeem Al Aksa.” Islamic affairs expert Dr. Guy Bechor noted that the entire rally took place as an act of incitement against the very existence of the State of Israel.”

The Or Commission did not recommend legal action against Raed Salah – a move which was severely criticized across the Israeli political spectrum.

“Former Meretz MK Amnon Rubenstein noted that “the Or Commission’s credibility was damaged by its refusal to recommend action against Arab MKs Abdel Malick Dehamshe, Azmi Bishara, and Um el Fahm Mayor and Northern Islamic Movement leader Raed Salah for inciting the Arab sector.”

“Former Defense Minister Moshe Arens wrote in Ha’aretz, “It is difficult to believe that the Or Commission ignored the rapid rise of subversive activities and incitement against the state that occurred among a part of Israel’s Arab community since the Oslo Accords.” Druze MK Ayoub Kara said, “Israel must stop ‘touching up’ an ugly picture: the Israeli Arabs engaged in a civil rebellion to demonstrate their national solidarity with the Palestinians.”

Far from being the type of ‘human rights’ or ‘civil liberties’ movement as Ian Black suggested in his article quoted above, the Northern Islamic Movement is in fact the Muslim Brotherhood’s branch in Israel.

In 1997 it created controversy by attempting to build an unauthorized mosque on church-owned land outside the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. A year later it gained control of the local council and Christian residents of the city and visitors to it are still confronted by Islamist propaganda as they approach their holy sites. 

Like its sister organization Hamas – also a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood – the Northern Islamic Movement rejects the existence of Israel completely and advocates the establishment of an Islamic state run on Sharia principles in its place.

Raed Salah’s ‘activism’ must be examined by any objective observer in that context, rather than in the cherry-picking manner adopted by those who choose to present him merely as a pro-Palestinian activist.  Their support of Salah and, by extension, his movement’s aims is in fact support for an aspiring non-democratic theocratic regime with in-built persecution of minorities and discrimination against numerous sectors, not least moderate Muslims.

As cited in the Or Commission report, Raed Salah is well known for his ability to incite violence, conflict and unrest either through his signature rabble-rousing speeches or by other – sometimes imaginative – methods. Here he is speaking at a rally after his participation in the Mavi Marmara flotilla, glorifying ‘martyrdom’.

Salah’s support for Hamas and its genocidal aims is not, however, confined merely to inflammatory rhetoric and boat trips. Its practical side includes the Northern Islamic Movement’s links to terror attacks.

“Nonetheless, three terrorist attacks have been carried out during the past decade by members of the Islamic Movement, primarily by its radical faction: The murder of soldiers near Kibbutz Gal-Ed in 1992; the murder of an Israeli couple in the Meggido Forest in August, 1999; and the explosions of the bomb-carrying cars in Tiberias and Haifa in September, 1999.”

Whilst the Northern Islamic Movement may not have provided the logistic support for these terror attacks (that apparently came from Hamas) it certainly did provide the background atmosphere to them.

“Members of the extremist faction maintain contacts with HAMAS in the Territories. Dr. Saliman Aghbariyya, an activist in this faction from Um el-Fahm, has been arrested more than once for having financial connections with HAMAS. Sheikh Ra’id Salah, leader of the extremist faction, is a member of the board of governors of the Islamic University in Gaza; the most important stronghold of the HAMAS in terms of organization and education. Sheikh Ra’id rushed to Jordan, at the head of a mission, to congratulate Khaled Mash’al for surviving an attempt on his life by Israel’s Mossad in September 1997. Similarly, he and his supporters went to Gaza to congratulate Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the leader of HAMAS, upon his return home after being released from prison in Israel.”

As is well known, Raed Salah has spent time in prison in Israel due to his role in the transferal of funds to Hamas. That, of course, is no coincidence: Salah has been named as sitting on the board of trustees of Yusuf Qaradawi’s ‘Union of Good’, the raison d’etre of which is to provide financial support for Hamas. On the basis of that support to a terrorist organisation, the ‘Union of Good’ was outlawed by the United States and by Israel – along with its various supporting charities.  

Several of those supporting charities are based in Britain and, despite repeated public pressure, continue to function openly; rubber stamped by the Charity Commission of England and Wales.

Raed Salah’s 2011 speaking tour of the UK (cut short by his arrest) was promoted by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Palestinian Forum in Britain. The advertisements show that it was also a fundraiser for ‘Human Appeal International’ which is one of the members of the ‘Union of Good’. 

‘Human Appeal International’ was named in the trial of Ahmed Salatna of the Jenin Zakat Committee as one of the organisations via which funds were transferred for Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist activities.

Raed Salah’s supporters (the Guardian included) in the UK have tried very hard throughout the entire affair to confine discussion of the case to semantic wrangling over his anti-Semitic statements and A-level English Literature-style dissections of his ‘poetry’. In that, they appear to have largely succeeded. 

That ‘victory’ should, however, send chills down the spines of any genuine members of the liberal Left remaining in the UK. By focusing the public and legal discussions on the various interpretations of Raed Salah’s sermons and writings, interested parties have managed to create a smoke-screen of ‘Jewish over-reaction’, with an added measure of anti-Semitic conspiracy theory-style ‘untoward Jewish influence’, adding fuel to the fire of an already intimidating atmosphere as perceived by many British Jews and non-Jews alike.

But the ins and outs of British immigration law and Salah’s so-called poetry should – in theory at least – be of far less interest to Left liberal commentators than the fact that there are groups within their own society (some with members in very high places) who laud and support a man whose beliefs and ideas are the antithesis of the values of liberty, equality and human rights which Western liberals claim to embrace.

It is possible to agree or disagree with the principle behind Salah’s banning from the UK, but there is certainly no reason for any genuine liberal to invest as much energy as the Guardian has done into trying to disguise the fact that the aim of his visit was to spout his incitement, promote his ideas of theocratic-based separatism and do a bit of round-about fundraising for a terror organisation on the side.

The Guardian’s treatment of the whole protracted Salah affair shows how meaningless a term ‘Left liberal’ has become in the ‘progressive’ circles it inhabits. But that writing was on the wall right from the beginning of the saga when a Guardian editorial on the subject informed us that “[i]f the home secretary is unwise enough to start applying her “prevent” policy to all Palestinian activists Israel has a problem with, Britain will face a backlash in the Arab world.”

And that is precisely the trouble with the Guardian’s Israel obsession: it blinds it from seeing the world – and its own little corner of it – in focus and causes it to sell out the principles to which it – and too much of the liberal Left – used to once adhere. 

Global March to Jerusalem post event round-up: #GMJ #EpicFailure

Written by Hadar Sela, lead researcher for the CiF Watch project, “Exposing the truth about the Global March to Jerusalem“.

Taking a post-event look at the Global March to Jerusalem, it is as important to identify what did not happen as it is to look at what did occur.

The most obvious conclusion is that the GMJ organisers failed to get the numbers of participants they declared having in advance, with only single percentage numbers of their vaunted one to two million marchers actually taking part. Despite GMJ organiser Ribhi Halloum’s feeble attempts at face-saving post-event spin, any objective observer can only conclude that the project’s organisers are clearly out of touch with majority concerns and opinion.

This was also reflected in the picture around the world with, for example, a mere 50 activists turning up for the GMJ event in Germany and 100 in Ottawa.  Even in London – a major hub of anti-Israel activism and home to a significant proportion of GMJ organisers and their various organisations – the turnout to shout at an empty Israeli embassy was not particularly impressive.

Significantly too, in Deir Hanna – the site of the main Land Day march in Israel – and other locations in the Galilee, participation in the event was low, with organisers already expressing their disappointment on Israeli radio by early Friday afternoon.

With the majority of the world’s mainstream media giving the event very low profile handling, it is also clear that the organisers failed to achieve another of their main objectives: the creation of an embarrassing PR event for Israel which would result in condemnatory headlines around the globe and create an opportunity for another Goldstone-style attack on Israel’s legitimacy.

That objective was in part thwarted by the actions taken by the authorities in the countries bordering Israel to contain the event to demonstrations and avoid the potentially fatal clashes which would have resulted had they allowed the would-be infiltrators to have their way.

In Syria the only GMJ event took place in Damascus, with the Iranian regime’s Press TV reporting that ” the Syrian government prevented them from reaching the nearest point to the Palestinian land, as a result of the accident that happened last year on Nakba Day where Israeli soldiers killed around 26 demonstrators who tried to cross the borders in the action called “Yawm al Awda”.

One must also factor in to that decision the rifts which appeared early on among GMJ organisers of a pro-Iranian/Syrian regime persuasion and those loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood which is heavily represented among the Syrian opposition, as the proliferation of Hizballah flags and Assad portraits at the Damascus event reflects.  

Participation in the GMJ event in Lebanon, which was confined to the Beaufort castle, was reportedly low due to the fact that the Lebanese army declined to allow participants to approach the border. Some foreign activists expressed a clear – but typical – lack of understanding of the regional dynamics at play.

Here’s a GMJ-North America supporter, #Occupy “human rights” activist, and Mondoweiss contributorDeppen Webber

 

Tweet 1

Tweet 2

(Note that in fact, GMJ organisers – including Webber’s patron Paul Larudee – had been cooperating with Hizbollah since the early stages of preparation.)

Tweet 3

Tweet 4

Tweet 5

Tweet 6

(Note that another – though no less unreliable – source would appear to contradict Webber’s claims.)

Tweet 7

Here’s Kunal Majumder, senior correspondent covering GMJ as a “reporter” for the Indian political weekly, Tehelka:

Tweet 1

Tweet 2

The Global March to Jerusalem has undoubtedly helped shine the light of exposure on several important points, one of which is the unquestioning collaboration between so-called peace activists and human rights advocates from Western and other countries and extremist elements such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hizbollah, the Iranian regime and even the Syrian Nazi Party – SSNP – which was represented at the GMJ event in Lebanon.

In addition, it is clear that the professed GMJ slogan of non-violence is merely a tactic employed by this handful of extremists in order to gain sympathy and legitimacy for their cause among Western audiences. Just as there is nothing non-violent about intending to illegally breach a sovereign state’s borders and over-run its capital, there was nothing non-violent about Friday’s riots in BethlehemGaza and Kalandiya (lead, incidentally, by a professor from the Sorbonne and with approximately 8% of the rioters being foreign activists – probably members of the ISM).

Equally clear is the end-game agenda of the organisers of the Global March to Jerusalem and its supporters. Their common denominator is the rejection of a negotiated two-state solution to the conflict, the rejection of recognition of Israel’s existence and the aspiration of achieving an imposed settlement which would bring that about. The ample rhetoric we have heard over the past few weeks on such subjects as ’64 years of occupation’ and ‘liberating Jerusalem’ is clear indication of their aims.

The Global March to Jerusalem project has clarified just how little understanding this bunch of professional and semi-professional activists have of the dynamics of the Middle East as indicated by their indignant objections to the fact that various authorities and security forces acted to prevent the escalation of their provocation into a potentially serious cross-border event.

Fortunately, it has also exposed just how out of touch its mostly foreign organisers are with the aims and priorities of people who actually live in the region and how outlandish the ideas of their relatively small – if loud – cult movement are to the majority of the people they seem to have somehow persuaded themselves that they represent. 

Related articles

Jenny Tonge & the Hamas Lobby

A guest post by Hadar Sela, a freelance Anglo Israeli writer

Jenny Tonge (far left) with Hamas' Ismail Haniyeh (third from left)

The recent tirade by Baroness Jenny Tonge – which resulted in her removal from the Liberal Democrats Party – included one of her more recurrent themes; the so-called ‘Israel lobby’.

Tonge said that Americans would tell “the Israel lobby in the USA: enough is enough” and accounts by those present at the event report that:

“Tonge, who describes herself as an “ethnic Christian” started by telling the audience to beware of the Israel lobby because “once they have decided to go for you, they will go for you. I bear the scars”. She cited the notorious writings of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, which have been widely discredited for effectively alleging a Jewish conspiracy – a charge that the authors have strenuously denied.”

This, of course, is not a new theme for Jenny Tonge. In 2006 she opined:

“The pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the Western World, its financial grips. I think they’ve probably got a certain grip on our party”.

It is therefore interesting to note that on Baroness Tonge’s newly updated profile page on the House of Lords website she declares two overseas trips within the last few months, both paid for by the Council for European Palestinian Relations.

Visit to Cairo and Gaza, 20-25 November 2011; travel expenses and accommodation paid by Council for European Palestinian Relations (based in Brussels)

Visit to Qatar, 8-10 January 2012, for discussions with Crown Prince; cost of accommodation and travel met by Council for European/Palestine Relations (based in Brussels)

The Council for European Palestinian Relations (CEPR) declares itself to be an “independent non-profit and non-partisan” organization registered in Belgium (BE 0828.629.725) and with an office in London.

It appears on the Transparency Register of the Joint Secretariat of the European Parliament and European Commission (no. 60576433-83). According to that register we see that in the financial year 2010/2011 the CEPR had a total budget of 155,000 Euros, all of which came from donations, although no information is available as to the identity of the donors.

The CEPR declares on the register and on its website that:

“The CEPR is funded by individual donations from around the world in compliance with Belgian and UK legal requirements. It does not accept funds from any individuals or bodies whose objectives are inimical to the interests of peace and justice.”

So far, the CEPR perhaps sounds like any other lobbyist body, but the interesting aspects of this organization begin to come to light when one takes a look at the personalities behind it.

The Director of CEPR is Dr. Arafat Shoukri (aka Arafat Madi Mahmoud Shukri).  Shoukri is also Operational Director with the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) – a Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood affiliated organization based in London which is outlawed in Israel due to its clear links to Hamas.

Several of the PRC’s senior figures are Hamas activists who found refuge in the UK. Founded by Salman Abu Sitta in 1996, the PRC was born out of rejection of the Oslo Accords, denial of Israel’s right to exist and the agenda of ‘right of return’ for millions of Palestinian refugees to Israel, effectively annihilating the Jewish state. Its funding is not transparent.

Other PRC board members are connected to charities linked to the Muslim Brotherhood’s ‘Union of Good’ umbrella organization – illegal in Israel and the United States due to its fundraising activities for Hamas. Several prominent PRC activists took part in the infamous ‘Durban Conference’ in 2001.

Since 2003 the PRC has organized an annual ‘Conference of Palestinians in Europe’ which is attended by figures from Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood along with representatives of their supporting organisations. Ismail Haniyeh – unable to travel to the conferences in person due to a European travel ban – has on several occasions addressed the conference by video link.

Arafat Shoukri is also chair of the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG) which was established by the Muslim Brotherhood’s European arm – the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE) in 2007 and shares the same London offices as the PRC. The ECESG is one of the coalition of groups which organizes the various flotillas aimed at breaking Israel’s maritime embargo on Gaza which was established in order to prevent the smuggling of weapons to Hamas. Jenny Tonge is a “supporting VIP” of the ECESG.

Here is Shoukri being interviewed in his ECESG capacity prior to the tragic 2010 flotilla:

The CEPR website is registered to ‘Save Gaza’, which was the address of the apparently now defunct ECESG website still promoted on the ECESG Facebook account.

Arafat Shoukri attended the recent ‘Conference for the Defence of Al Quds’ in Qatar, (also attended by Yusuf Qaradawi of the Muslim Brotherhood) which came to the conclusion that “the Israelis have no heritage in Al-Quds”.

Assistant to the Director at CEPR is Ramy Abdu (aka Rami Salah Ismail Abdo) who at least until 2011 was (and may still be) also the ECESG spokesman. In 2009 Abdu left his native Gaza (where he acted as spokesman for the pro-Hamas ‘Popular Committee Against the Siege’) and moved to Manchester to study at MMU. He also became an ECESG co-ordinator. Here is Abdu being interviewed in his previous role with the PCAS. 

James Tuite is the Parliamentary Officer of the CEPR and as such is active at the European Parliament in Brussels and presumably in initiatives such as this.

Dimitris Bouris is the CEPR Research Assistant. Examples of his writing and research can be seen here and here.

Stuart Reigeluth is Communications Officer for the CEPR. He holds a Master’s degree in Palestinian poetry from the American University in Beirut and also writes for several outlets including the Gulf News, the Daily Star, the Palestine-Israel Journal and Electronic Intifada.

 Unsurprisingly, Reigeluth has also contributed articles to the antisemitic ‘Palestine Telegraph which is run by Sameh Habeeb (aka Sameh Akram Subhi Habib – also originally from Gaza) who is also connected to both the Palestinian Return Centre and the ECESG, having acted as the latter’s spokesman during its 2009 aid convoy. Jenny Tonge was patron of the Palestine Telegraph until she resigned after it posted a David Duke video.

Julian Memetaj is listed as Communications Assistant on the CEPR website. In this recent article (written together with Reigeluth) he states that “Jewish Israelis are xenophobic towards Arabs”.

Ayman Abuawwad (also Abu Awad) is not listed on the website, but is sometimes described as Information Officer in press releases and articles put out on behalf of the CEPR. He is also apparently connected to the ECESG.

Further indication of the close level of co-operation between the CEPR and the other organisations with which so many of its staff are involved can be seen in their joint projects.

In 2011 the CEPR and the PRC together took a group of Parliamentarians from Britain and Europe – lead by Sir Gerald Kaufman – to Lebanon where they met representatives of the PFLP-GC and Osama Hamdan of Hamas. (Both these organisations are proscribed terror groups in the EU). Majid al Zeer of the PRC (a known Hamas operative) and Arafat Shoukri of the CEPR were also present in the delegation.

Also in 2011 a joint CEPR/ECESG project took a group of 50 Parliamentarians to Gaza, where they met with Ismail Haniyeh among others.

Whilst it is unsurprising to say the least that Jenny Tonge would collaborate with such a thinly veiled Hamas lobby as the Council for European Palestinian Relations, some of the many other members of both Houses of Parliament who have taken part in CEPR trips might care to ask themselves exactly where the money for their travel expenses originated and whether or not their allowing themselves to be lobbied by an organisation with such clear links to a terrorist organisation their own government has proscribed is appropriate.

The European and British Parliaments – which allow the CEPR to lobby on their premises – would also be wise to verify that organisation’s claim that it “does not accept funds from any individuals or bodies whose objectives are inimical to the interests of peace and justice”.