Visualizing anti-Zionism: Site used by Guardian data blog calls Haifa “Palestinian”

Yesterday, we posted about an extraordinarily misleading Guardian data blog entry on the Palestinian economy – a piece by Mona Chalabi titled ‘How does Palestine’s economy work?‘, Oct. 14 – which assigned blame for Palestinian economic woes almost entirely on Israel, and never once so much as mentioned the injurious economic impact of Palestinian terrorism.

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Many of the claims made by Chalabi were quite specious, including her reference to a report which purported to quantify the number of olive trees “uprooted by Israeli authorities since 1967″.   To illustrate the number of olive trees allegedly destroyed by “Israeli Authorities” – which Palestinians have evidently methodically been counting over the past 46 years – she referred readers to a site called ‘Visualizing Palestine‘.

Visualizing Palestine describes itself as a site dedicated to using “creative visuals to describe a factual rights-based narrative of Palestine/Israel.” It is funded by the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, the Jerusalem Fund, and the Shuttleworth Foundation.

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As you can see from their recent Tweet, editors at Visualizing Palestine were quite proud that their statistics were used by the Guardian:

Sites other than the Guardian – such as the anti-Zionist hates sites Mondoweiss and Electronic Intifada – have also featured their work:

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The graphic purporting to illustrate the impact of so many uprooted trees cites, as its source, not Oxfam (as Chalabi claims) but a report by the Palestinian Ministry of National Economy and a radical NGO called Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem (ARIJ). Moreover, a review of Visualizing Palestine indicates that it serves as a clearinghouse of anti-Zionist propaganda , replete with misleading quotes from Israeli leaders, false claims about Israeli and Palestinian water use, and graphics imputing comic book villainy to Israelis, such as this graphic created from stats at the site US Campaign to End the Occupation:

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And, then there is this graphic from their site, illustrating the false story earlier in the year about Israel’s alleged “racially segregated” bus service.

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There’s also this illustration – showing Israeli soldiers aiming their weapons at a Palestinian child – on a page at their site devoted to the propaganda film about the Bil’in protests called ‘Five Broken Cameras’.

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Finally, if you contribute a mere $110 to Visualizing Palestine, you get this cool pendant:

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Here’s the list of pendants (of 16 cities in “Palestine”) you can choose from:

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Eight* of the “Palestinian cities” are actually Israeli, and have been so since 1948. (Bi’r as-Sab is Arabic for Beer Sheva)

The use of ‘Visualizing Palestine’ as a serious source by Chalabi serves as additional evidence that the claim made in the Guardian Data Blog logo, that “facts are sacred“, is, to put it politely, simply absurd.  

(*As Judge Dan, a blogger at Israellycool, pointed out, we originally neglected to note that Beisan is Bet She’an, an Israeli city in the north.)

Guardian: Mahmoud Abbas gives up claims on “historic Palestinian city” of Haifa

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is clearly a moderate.

How do I know?

Well, per Harriet Sherwood’s latest Guardian report (Aug. 23), for starters, he recently said the following about the concessions he’s willing to make in order to advance the peace process:

In remarks possibly aimed at reassuring Israelis who believe a peace deal with the Palestinians will be followed by further claims, Abbas said: “You have a commitment from the Palestinian people, and also from the leadership, that if we are offered a just agreement, we will sign a peace deal that will put an end to the conflict and to future demands from the Palestinian side.”

Referring to historic Palestinian cities in what is now Israel, he added: “People say that after signing a peace agreement we will still demand Haifa, Acre and Safed. That is not true.”

For those attempting to figure out how cities which are within Israel’s 1949 boundaries can be characterized by Sherwood as “historically Palestinian”, you have to understand that Palestinian propaganda frequently refers to their people’s longing to “reclaim” such cities, part of a broader narrative which rejects Israel’s right to exist within any borders.

As Palestinian Media Watch documents, official PA TV constantly presents to Palestinians viewers a world without Israel in which all of Israel is defined as “Palestine.” In regular news programs, Israeli places and cities like Ashkelon, Haifa, Acre, Tiberias, Jaffa, Ramle, Lod, Safed, Mt Carmel, and the Sea of Galilee are described as “Palestinian,” “ours” or as part of “my country Palestine.”

The following documentary has been shown many times on Palestinian TV:

By referring to even those cities which have always been Israeli as “historically Palestinian”, Sherwood is not only parroting Palestinian anti-Zionist propaganda, but in effect imputing ‘moderation’ to Abbas for the mere act of relinquishing territorial claims for which there is absolutely no moral or legal basis. 

Guardian falsely claims that most new Israeli immigrants move to the West Bank

A recent edition of The Observer (sister publication of the Guardian) published their weekly top 20 photographs, which included this image of a new Israeli immigrant being greeted outside the old airport terminal by a cheering crowd:

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The photographer is Oliver Weiken of EPA.  Here’s the Observer caption:

An Israeli immigrant from the US is cheered by a crowd after her arrival at the Ben Gurion airport, near Tel Aviv. New immigrants predominantly move to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, a key negotiation point in potential new peace talks between Israel and Palestine

So, a photo depicting a joyous occasion for a new arrival to the Jewish state was contextualized by the editor to suggest that since such immigrants disproportionately become “settlers”, they can be seen as injurious to the peace process.   

However, contrary to the claim made in the caption, most new immigrants do NOT move to “settlements” in the West Bank. As statistics over the last several years published by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics indicate, the most popular destinations are Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa, with a small minority going to the West Bank (Judea and Samaria).

In 2012 there were 16,557 new Israeli immigrants, out of which only 664 moved to the West Bank.

In 2011 there 16,892 new Israeli immigrants, out of which only 540 moved to the West Bank.

In 2010, there were 16,663 new Israeli immigrants, out of which only 666 moved to the West Bank.  

In 2009, there were 14,572 new Israeli immigrants, out of which only 675 moved to the West Bank.

So, over this four-year period, out of 64,684 new Israeli immigrants (Olim), 2,545 (about 4%) decided to move to communities across the green line – a figure which corresponds (roughly) with the total percentage of all Israeli citizens who live in the “settlements”.

The claim made in the Observer photo captions is false, and we will be seeking a correction.

(UPDATE: CiF Watch obtained a correction to this photo caption on August 6.)

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.

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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. 

CiF Watch complaint to PCC prompts Guardian to begrudgingly revise Rachel Corrie op-ed

The Guardian’s coverage of the culmination of the civil law suit brought by the parents of Rachel Corrie – a verdict which was handed down in Haifa on August 28th, 2012 – was characteristically obsessive, tendentious and breezily unconcerned with the facts.

The Guardian’s coverage of the Israeli court ruling dismissing the Corrie’s suit – which included several reports by Harriet Sherwood, a deeply offensive cartoon, and an especially malign piece by Chris McGreal - culminated in an official Guardian editorial, titled ‘Rachel Corrie: A memory which refuses to die

The editorial, which was dripping with contempt, included this passage on the ruling:

“Perpetuating the myth that her death was a tragic accident, the judge did not deviate from the official line.”

The Guardian seemed to all but ignore the evidence – if indeed the author(s) of the editorial even bothered to read the English summary which was posted online the same day the ruling was issued – presented in the trial, and the judge’s statements, which led to the the newspaper stating unequivocally that:

“Rachel Corrie died trying to protect a Palestinian home from demolition.” 

However, the Court of Law in Haifa, Israel, which heard the case presented by Rachel Corrie’s family, ruled otherwise. In his verdict, Judge Oded Gershon rejected the claim that Ms. Corrie had been protecting a house from demolition at the time of her death.

The judge ruled as follows: 

The mission of the IDF force on the day of the incident was solely to clear the ground. This clearing and leveling included leveling the ground and clearing it of brush in order to expose hiding places used by terrorists, who would sneak out from these areas and place explosive devices with the intent of harming IDF soldiers. There was an urgency to carrying out this mission so that IDF look-outs could observe the area and locate terrorists thereby preventing explosive devices from being buried. The mission did not include, in any way, the demolition of homes. The action conducted by the IDF forces was done at real risk to the lives of the soldiers. Less than one hour before the incident that is the focus of this lawsuit, a live hand-grenade was thrown at the IDF forces.

All the above information was provided to Chris Elliott, Readers’ Editor of the Guardian, by my colleague Hadar Sela, in a series of communications  beginning on August 30th 2012. Mr Elliott, however, chose not to make a correction, which prompted CiF Watch to bring the matter before the UK Press Complaints Commission. 

Sela argued that Guardian’s statement that “Rachel Corrie died trying to protect a Palestinian home from demolition” had been proven to be untrue in a court of law prior to the editorial being published.

After many months, and a series of correspondences between Sela, the PCC and Guardian editors stubbornly resistant to admitting error, the Guardian begrudgingly agreed to amend their editorial to acknowledge that the Israeli court ruling contradicted claims that Corrie was preventing a home demolition on that day.

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Whilst the result is far from ideal, it’s important that the Guardian was forced to acknowledge that an Israeli judicial proceeding heard evidence, engaged in serious deliberations, and came to a conclusion at odds with the lethal narratives about the Jewish state routinely advanced by Palestinian activists that the paper unquestioningly accepted as fact in their editorial.  

Indeed, it’s worth noting anytime the Guardian is forced to deviate from their ‘official line’ on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

(Additionally, a CiF Watch complaint to the Telegraph – which repeated the same error about Corrie’s actions on the day she was killed, and used a photo which the caption falsely claimed was taken “moments before she died”, by Adrian Blomfield – was revised, and then, at some point, completely removed from their site.)

Postcard from Israel – Haifa flea market

Definitely not on the standard list of tourist destinations in Israel, and less well-known than its counterpart in Yaffo (Jaffa), the flea market in down-town Haifa is well worth a visit whether you’re buying or just browsing. The market is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and of course it is best to get there as early as possible – with well-honed haggling skills! 

Guardian coverage of Carmel forest fire (a comparison)

A H/T for this post goes to Israelinurse

Considering that Israel hosts the highest density of foreign correspondents per capita in the world, which results in a magnified media spotlight upon events which take place throughout the country, not least upon the pages of the Guardian, one may have anticipated somewhat more thorough coverage of the disastrous Carmel fire.

To date, CiF’s Israel page has hosted three articles (two of which were AP dispatches) and one photograph gallery of the event.

Harriet Sherwood ignored the fire altogether (while it was still raging), but still managed to file a report on Israeli racism in Safed (Tsfat) while the blaze was still engulfing Northern Israel, and found the time to write two stories on shark attacks (yes, shark attacks) in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.

However, it seems that Sherwood has returned to Israel, filing a report today that ostensibly was about the aftermath of the deadly fire, but, as she seems simply unable to cast Israelis in a sympathetic light, still managed to take two swipes at the Jewish state – both at the expense of the Orthodox community, who the Guardian so loves to vilify.

By way of comparison, during the terrible bushfires in Victoria, Australia in February 2009 in which 173 people died, 414 were injured and 7,562 displaced from their homes, CiF published 27 articles on the subject in the first four days of the event.

Taking into account that Australia’s population is more than three times larger than that of Israel, the 41 dead and 17,000 displaced persons in the Mount Carmel fire make current events in Israel a national disaster on a comparable scale.

Absent from the current CiF coverage of the event is any aspect of the individual stories of those Israelis affected by the fire, in contrast to the kind of articles run during the Australian disaster. Also not covered is any reporting on the damage to the environment and wildlife, again in contrast to the reporting of the similar event in Victoria.

Could it be that the Guardian editors are reluctant to run stories about events which do not fit in with the usual theme of ‘Israelis behaving badly’? (See Akus’s piece, back in early June, on the Guardian’s obsessive coverage of the flotilla incident for another example of this bias)

Here’s the visual of the Guardian’s coverage of the Australian fires, which is followed by a visual their coverage of the Carmel fire.

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Carmel fire approaches Haifa: Fire shows no sign of dying down

On Friday evening Israeli news outlets were reporting that the Carmel fire was spreading from the direction of Haifa University towards the neighborhood of Denya in the city. Over 8,600 acres have already been scorched. Authorities were saying that it could take a week before they are able to completely extinguish the blaze, Channel 10 reported. Winds showed no sign of dying down overnight.

Those wishing to contribute to Carmel Fire Relief Fund can click on the image to the left, which will take you to the donation page of the site, Act for Israel.

Contribute to the Carmel Fire Relief Fund

The widely respected, and highly reputable, organization, Act For Israel, has launched a campaign to raise funds to assist Israel’s fire relief efforts.

The deadly forest fires broke out near Carmel Forest in northern Israel on December 2, 2010. This colossal forest fire has claimed the lives of at least 40 prison guards trapped in a bus while on a mission to rescue Palestinian prisoners from the blaze, with many others injured according to the Israeli rescue service. Emergency crews have evacuated hundreds of people near the Carmel Forest, including inmates from Damon prison. The fire, still raging at the time of this post, in the Carmel area, has engulfed kibbutz Beit Oren. Israeli officials are calling the fire the most catastrophic in Israeli history.

Israeli officials declared that it cannot contain this fire without outside resources — it is too massive.  Dozens of towns have been evacuated — some neighborhoods from Haifa (the third largest city in Israel), and one of the most amazing places to visit in Israel – the Carmel Forest – has been nearly wiped out.

Israel Needs Help!

This is where you come in. Israel is one of the smallest countries in the world whose resources are stretched to the limit by the scale of this disaster. With only 1,500 dedicated firefighters in a national population the size of a single major American city, it desperately needs whatever assistance the world can give. Those looking for a way to give back to the only Jewish State can do so now. Israel regularly comes to the aid of other countries’ misfortunes – it was the first country on the scene to open a running hospital after the debilitating Haitian earthquake.

Now, you can return the favor. Please CLICK HERE and let Israelis of every ethnicity and religion hear from you.

How Harriet Sherwood reported on the Fire in Israel

A Guest Post by AKUS

The worst fire in Israel’s history has been burning out of control on the Carmel Mountain near Haifa since Thursday morning. So how has the Guardian’s reporter in Israel, Harriet “ChickenLady ” Sherwood, choose to cover it? The same way she covers Palestinian terrorism – I see nothing, I hear nothing, I say nothing.

The Guardian had to rely on Haroon Siddique reporting from London. (Still the Guardian’s only report on the catastrophic fire which has raged for 0ver 36 hours.)

No doubt the ChickenLady was too busy writing about the sufferings of the Palestinians – who are still suffering from a shortage of construction materials to build yet more upscale restaurants, hotels, and single-sex water parks.

This woman is a disgrace and if the Guardian had any beitzim they would yank her out of Israel.