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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AFP/Guardian story, March 3:

march 3AFP/Guardian story, March 13:

March 13

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

Here’s a January 17 report by Rory McCarthy:

jan 17

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

april 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Economist falsely suggests that exports from Gaza are banned.

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

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

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

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

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

gisha graphic

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

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

tut

Strawberries prepared for export from Gaza

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

to this:

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

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

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

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Guardian contributor claims all Palestinians jailed for terror crimes are ‘political prisoners’!

The following is a first person account (posted previously at this blog) by an Israeli paramedic who, in 2011, arrived on the scene at the Israeli community of Itamar shortly after five members of the Fogel family, including three children, were savagely murdered:

The first thing I saw when we entered the first room was 4-year-old [Elad] on the carpet with three stab wounds in his left chest, and, as I thought at the time he was still alive, left another medic to attend to him.

I then entered the second room and found the 11-year-old[Yoav] who had been butchered, his throat was sliced so deep that his head was nearly detached from the body.

Then we entered the third room where we found the mother [Ruth] dead, lying on floor in pool of blood with multiple stab wounds.  On a bed in same room, lying dead with single stab wound in the neck, was the father [Udi].  The three-month old baby [Hadas] was underneath the father.  The baby was killed with one stab wound to the skull.

I then returned to the first room, where I thought Elad was still alive, and soon realized that he, too, was dead.

The carpet was soaked in blood.

FamilyFogel

Fogel family

The two Palestinians who pled guilty to the gruesome murder, Amjad Awad and his cousin Hakim Awad (who were affiliated with the PFLP terror group),expressed no remorse for their crimes at the hearing where they were sentenced to life in prison.

Fogel-sigtede-2011

Amjad Awad and Hakim Awad

Amjad and Awad are among  the roughly 4,200 or so ‘security prisoners’ – those convicted of crimes, usually violent in nature, motivated by nationalistic reasons – in Israeli jails. Among these security prisoners are Palestinians who committed terrorist attacks where Israelis were killed or maimed; Palestinians who were on their way to suicide missions and were apprehended before the attack; attack planners; and those responsible for preparing the explosives, etc.

However, there is, evidently, another word some use when characterizing the Itamar murderers and others with Israeli blood on their hands: Political Prisoners.

This term was employed recently by ‘Comment is Free’ contributor Martin Linton.  Linton, you may recall, is a former British MP (and chair of Labour Friends of Palestine) who warned in 2010 that “there are long tentacles of Israel in [the UK] who are funding election campaigns and putting money into the British political system for their own ends.”

Linton’s ‘CiF’ op-ed (‘Release Marwan Barghouti. He can be Palestine’s Nelson Mandela‘, March 28), which contained praise for the terrorist mastermind so fawning it could be mistaken for a parody, included this passage:

An international campaign has been launched to free Barghouti and the 4,227 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails. It is supported by every party in the Palestinian parliament, with Fatah and Hamas united for once, and by the overwhelming majority of Palestinians.

This is of course an egregious distortion of the widely accepted definition of the term “political prisoner“, which normally refers to ‘a person imprisoned for their political beliefs or actions’, and mirrors the language used by the most radical pro-Palestinian voices.

Finally, it should be noted that back in May we prompted a correction at the Guardian over a similarly false claim, in a report by Harriet Sherwood referring to the 123 ‘Pre-Oslo Palestinian Prisoners‘ – all of whom were convicted of murder, attempted murder or being an accomplice to murder – as “political prisoners“. 

Though Sherwood’s article was a straight news story, and Linton’s an op-ed, the Press Complaints Commission has been clear that newspaper editors are required to ensure that even op-eds avoid claims which are false or misleading. 

Linton didn’t merely advance an offensive opinion, he stated as fact something that is categorically untrue.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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CAMERA monitors media coverage of Israel, Feb. 26 – March 10: Guardian, NYT, Al-Jazeera, Ha’aretz

English Posts

Al-Jazeera America TV News Aims Against Israel
Twisted coverage of Israel is consistent with the network’s indirect connection through its owner to the creation of the Palestinian Hamas terrorist entity sworn to Israel’s destruction. The CEO, aiming at the opinion makers, admits to unconcern about profits and viewer ratings. (CAMERA)

Where’s the Coverage? The Truth about “Israel Apartheid Week”
The latest untold story. (CAMERA Snapshots)

Ha’aretz Veers Off Course with Ports Story
In the latest false media account of a supposed anti-Israel BDS victory, Ha’aretz incorrectly reports that two foreign companies withdrew from a ports tender due to boycott fears. (CAMERA)

When Media Cover for Palestinian Terror Groups
Martin Kramer has excellently exposed how The New York Times covers for Rashid Khalidi. (In case it’s not clear, the job of a serious newspaper is to cover the PLO spokesman-cum-professor, not cover for him.). (Snapshots)

Just the Facts: Stripping Down Ha’aretz Coverage on Airport Search
Ha’aretz news article describes a “he said/she said” dispute about the alleged strip search of an Israeli Arab teacher. Ha’aretz headlines and opinion pieces upgrade the disputed claim to fact. (CAMERA)

Ha’aretz Lost in Translation on Strip Search
Today, in an apparent case of “lost in translation,” the Ha’aretz English edition continues to report as fact the disputed claim that Israeli Arab teacher Ezies Elias Shehada was subjected to a strip search. (Snapshots)

Mitnick, the U.S., and “Illegal” Settlements
American policy on the legality of the settlements has been consistent for decades. And Joshua Mitnick’s coverage of that policy has also been consistent. Consistently wrong, that is. (Snapshots)

Did Mahmoud Abbas outrage Syria’s Palestinian refugees by waiving their right to live?
The Guardian failed to report news that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had rejected an Israeli offer to allow thousands of Palestinian refugees, caught in war-torn Syria, safe travel into the West Bank and Gaza – citing his fear that they may be forced to forfeit their “right of return”. (CiF Watch)

Hebrew Posts

Yossi Sarid’s Boycott
What are the aims of the BDS Movement? (Presspectiva)

The Media is a little too fast in reporting BDS successes
Did Dutch and Italian companies really withdraw tender application to build new ports in Israel, due to political reasons?. (Presspectiva)

Abu-Mazen’s True Position
What Abu Mazen says in English is not always identical to what he says in Arabic . (Presspectiva)

Ha’aretz No Longer a Newspaper
Has Ha’aretz decided to come out of the closet, shrugging off any pretense of being a news organization? What other explanation is there for publication of the full text of a petition by Rashid Khalidi and Judith Butler without any comment or context? (Presspectiva)

Portraying Israel as if it was North Korea
A Ha’aretz Op-ed is too happy to grossly mischaracterize and declare as a fact, incidents which are very much in dispute. (Presspectiva)

Ma’ariv Finally Corrects!
Days before an ethics committee hearing on Presspectiva’s complaint, Ma’ariv finally corrects a six month old story. (Presspectiva)

Spanish Posts

ABC: ¿Por qué fue Merkel a Israel?
El diario español ABC se encarga de que los palestinos estén en el titular de la noticia sobre la visita de Merkel a Israel, que era relevante por otros motivos. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

¿Dónde está la cobertura?
La prensa en español suele recoger y reproducir noticias provenientes de periódicos israelíes, siempre y cuando los hechos que relate esa noticia sirvan para reforzar la imagen de Israel que se pretenden instalar entre el público lector. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

La agencia EFE: acusación particular contra Israel
La agencia gubernamental española presenta los argumentos de la acusación, pero en ningún momento nos permite conocer qué alega el acusado en su defensa. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Un elefante rosa 
Es grande, ruidoso, muy visible en un lugar pequeño y, aún así, nadie quiere verlo. Lo mismo sucede con Hamas, y con los grupos terroristas que operan desde Gaza, en el marco de las conversaciones de paz entre Israel y la AP. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Pincelada propia 
La agencia española de noticias Europa Press, tomaba el material deReuters y no podría evitar darle un giro muy propio. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Hamás condena la enseñanza de los DDHH en Gaza
La organización terrorista condena el curricula de la UNWRA por incluir asignaturas sobre derechos humanos. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

5 razones que alejan a los palestinos de la paz
Utilizar los medios de comunicación para difamar a Israel y difundir odio gratuito desde la cúpula de la Autoridad Palestina, son razones de peso que alejan a los palestinos de la paz y que usan como plataforma de difusión los medios de comunicación masiva. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

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Guardian whitewashes Nathan Filer’s support for pro-terror group, ISM

We haven’t read ‘The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer, and can’t comment on the artistic merits of the book which recently won the Costa Book of the Year award.  However, we can speak about the Guardian’s report on the award, and the author’s curious understanding of the words “peace” and “human rights”.

The Guardian’s story, Costa winner Nathan Filer: ‘This is huge, isn’t it?’, by Guardian features writer , begins thus:

This has been one of the most eventful weeks so far in an already eventful life for Nathan Filer. On Saturday, it was his wedding – the culmination of a journey that began in spring 2012, with an unexpected proposal to his partner Emily while they were being held in an Israeli detention centre. Then on Tuesday he won the Costa Book of the Year award for his first novel, The Shock of the Fall, a trip to the podium that began in 2002, when he was training to be a mental health nurse.

Why was Filer held in an Israeli detention center?  Cochrane gives us a bit of background:

In 2009, having worked on The Shock of the Fall for seven years, he decided to study for a creative writing MA, making the novel his priority. That same year he met his partner Emily, who also works in mental health, and her interest in human rights led to them volunteering in Palestine. In 2011, the pair travelled to Hebron, working with the International Solidarity Movement. They taught English at a university, and offered what support they could to people whose houses had been demolished: they filmed one man in this situation, and put his story online. “It’s about raising awareness,” says Filer. “We would go to protests, to be there and observe. If international people are there, it’s less likely the Israeli military will use heavy-handed tactics, so we were there to try to make things more peaceful, really.”

(Indeed, on his blog, Filer freely writes that “(ISM) does important work in Palestine. I’ve volunteered with them…”.)

Cochrane then directly touches on the detention:

He says he loved being in Palestine and, about six months later, he and Emily travelled there to volunteer again. This time though, as soon as they arrived at the airport in Tel Aviv, they were taken into a side room and questioned, before being driven to a holding facility, to await deportation on the next plane home – their passport details had been taken by the Israeli military during a peaceful protest on their previous visit. Filer didn’t feel he was in danger, but says he was furious, “because we knew that the work we were doing was perfectly legal. We didn’t break any Israeli laws, we’re pro-human rights, peaceful people.”

The casual Guardian reader would be forgiven – after reading the passage – for believing that ISM was a peaceful organization.  

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

ISM members pose with Palestinian terrorists

Though ISM describes itself as “a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using nonviolent, direct-action” their activities have included “serving as human shields for terrorist operatives wanted by the Israeli security forces” and providing the Palestinian terrorist operatives and their families “with financial, logistic and moral support”.  They have even reportedly “embraced Palestinian suicide bombers as freedom fighters” 

Here’s more info on ISM from The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center and NGO Monitor:

  • ISM rejects the existence of Israel as a national homeland for the Jews. 
  • ISM has been responsible for endangering the safety of many foreign nationals, including Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall. Both were killed while participating in ISM activities. In response to Corrie’s death, ISM co-founder Thom Saffold said, “we’re like a peace army. Generals send young men and women off to operations, and some die.”
  • In a 2002 article, ISM co-founders Adam Shapiro and Huwaida Arraf wrote, “The Palestinian resistance must take on a variety of characteristics, both non-violent and violent…In actuality, nonviolence is not enough…Yes, people will get killed and injured,” but these deaths are “no less noble than carrying out a suicide operation. And we are certain that if these men were killed during such an action, they would be considered shaheed Allah.”
  • In 2003 ISM activist Susan Barclay said in an interview that she “knowingly worked with representatives from Hamas and Islamic Jihad…” 
  • In 2003, ISM activist Ewa Jasiewicz wrote about a shooting attack against Israeli civilians: “Lawd – S-T-R-A-T-E-G-Y, I understand its about attacking civilian life the way civilian life has been crushed and continually denied under the occupation and showing Israelis that they are not safe… from the indefatigable Palestinian resistance etc…But that mesage (sic) has been got loud and clear. I don’t get why activists can’t go and do the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) or something, or do a sophisticated politician bump-off…”
  • In a 2003 interview on the ISM-London website, Saif Abu Keshek, ISM’s Nablus coordinator at the time, said: “we recognise the right of the Palestinians to choose their way of resistance. To join our way of resistance or to choose armed struggle.”
  • In March 2003, senior Islamic Jihad terrorist Shadi Sukiya was arrested while he was hiding in ISM’s Jenin office and being assisted by two ISM activists.
  • In 2003, terrorists originating from the UK attacked the Mike’s Place bar in Tel Aviv, murdering three people. An official Israeli report showed how the terrorists covered their tracks “by forging links with foreign left-wing activists and members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).” According to this report, “ISM members take an active part in illegal and violent actions against IDF soldiers. At times, their activity….is under the auspices of Palestinian terrorist organizations.”
  • After the second intifada senior ISM activists moved their operations to Gaza where Hamas was gaining a foothold before its violent takeover in 2007. Four senior American ISM activists were key in founding an international pro-Hamas umbrella organization called the Free Gaza Movement, which strives to strengthen the Hamas administration in the Palestinian territory.
  • In 2008, ISM member Richard David Hupper was convicted by a U.S. federal jury for materially aiding Hamas, “giving about $20,000 to Hamas while working in Israel with the International Solidarity Movement.”

Yet, in an over 1700 word story, the Guardian journalist never once mentions ISM’s terror-supporting activities nor noted the seeming contradiction of Filer’s alleged support for “peace” and “human rights” with his active participation with a group which aids and abets antisemitic extremists who intentionally murder innocent Israelis. 

Indeed, one of the biggest scandals of the Guardian’s coverage of Israel and the Palestinians is the dishonest manner in which they frame the debate – the way they automatically impute good will and progressivism to nearly anyone claiming to advocate on behalf of Palestinians, even those compromised by their support for violence against innocent civilians.  Such moral blind spots regarding the human rights of Israelis continue to define the ideological territory occupied by the Guardian Left.

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

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

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

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

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

miracle

Observer, Jan. 25, page 16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

gaza gloom

Photo from print edition of her recent report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Why did the Guardian publish, then remove, article on anti-Zionist ‘activist’ Stuart Rees?

Recently, our Google Alert for Israel-related content published at the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’ included this:

google alertHowever, upon opening the link, we saw the following:

oops

The text and photo in the Google Alert was sufficient to identify the protagonist in their deleted story as anti-Israel campaigner Stuart Rees, the Director of the Sydney Peace Foundation.  

You may recall that in 2003 Rees’s group awarded their annual ‘Peace Prize’ to that prolific “liberal” Palestinian activist, Hanan Ashrawi.  Further, after pro-Israel groups criticized the award, Rees charged that Jewish groups who complained were challenging “the health of Australian democracy” by using their “formidable financial power” to engage in a campaign of “deceit, bullying and intimidation.”

Fortunately, we were also able to locate a cached page of the deleted Guardian article, written by .

g

Though we don’t know for sure why the Guardian removed the article, upon reading the content (on the cached page) it appears that their decision may have had something to do with the timing of the article’s publication vis-a-vis the death of Ariel Sharon – particularly, a bizarre comment by Rees (in bold) in the last passage of this excerpt:

One evening in Doha, in December: Sydney University’s Professor Stuart Rees is standing in the middle of a packed room, deep in conversation with the veteran Palestinian negotiator, Dr Saeb Erekat.

Famous figures in the Palestinian political landscape mill around them. Hamas chief Khalid Mish’al is there, along with Hamas’s head of international relations, Osama Hamdan. Rees is completely engrossed in his discussion with Erekat, a key figure in the latest round of peace talks brokered by the US secretary of state, John Kerry. But later on he’ll meet Mish’al, and will become part of a conversation between the Hamas chief and the UN’s special rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, Richard Falk. “He insists that the soft power of international public opinion is strategically far superior to any further use of violence,” says Rees of Falk. Meanwhile, Mish’al tells the two men that establishing common ground with Palestinians in the West Bank and in the diaspora is one of his key goals.

It was an extraordinary gathering in the Qatari capital, which went largely unreported in the western media. The Qatar-based Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies had organised a three-day conference titled “the Palestinian cause and the future of the Palestinian national movement”.

Little did anyone there know that just over a month later, on 11 January 2014, the world would learn that the former Israeli general and prime minister Ariel Sharon was dead. The man known as “the sleeping giant”, who had been in a coma for eight years after suffering a stroke, was 85 when he died: still hated by most Palestinians.

Rees, the founder of Sydney University’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, and chairman of the Sydney Peace Foundation – he set up the annual Sydney peace prize, Australia’s only international peace award – and who was one of the speakers at the Doha conference, says the former Israeli PM should be regarded as “a military thug”.

The fact that he died eight years ago but has officially only just died, indicates to me that his image as a military warrior was synonymous with the identity of Israel, and that they couldn’t afford to let him appear to die. It’s almost Kafkaesque that this should now be headline news with the mainstream media paying their respects to him,” he adds.

Later in the article, there’s the following risible – some may say Kafkaesque - characterization of the Hamas-friendly “peace warrior”:

Rees is a bluntly spoken, impassioned man whose life almost totally revolves around human rights and conflict resolution

You can read the rest of the Guardian’s puff piece on Rees, and his friendly encounters with Hamas ‘peaceniks’, HERE.

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Tyranny of the weak: Why the Guardian will support the next Palestinian Intifada

There are quite a few factors which lead us to believe that many Guardian reporters and editors will likely lend moral support to the Palestinians in the event they launch another deadly intifada.  

Specifically, the paper has shown a clear tendency in the past to license extremist commentators who reject peace and reconciliation with Israel and legitimize (if not justify) Palestinian terrorism.  Additionally, their binary moral paradigm in which Palestinians are seen as immutable victims of Israeli oppression further necessitates at least tacit support for the Palestinians’ recourse to violence. 

First, their promotion of extremism:

In 2011, the Guardian published the leaked ‘Palestine Papers’ and, in an official editorial contextualizing the thousands of pages of “confidential” Palestinian records covering years of negotiations with Israel, harshly criticized Palestinian leaders for showing some alleged reasonableness during negotiations, suggesting that they ‘sold out‘ on Palestinian “rights” such as ‘the right of return’ – characterizing such putative flexibility as “craven”.

The Guardian:

“It is hard to tell who appears worst: the Palestinian leaders, who are weak, craven and eager to shower their counterparts with compliments; 

A well-researched report by Just Journalism in 2011 demonstrated the consistent promotion of voices at ‘Comment is Free’ that reject peace negotiations and even Israel’s very right to exist:

Just Journalism:

The Guardian published more op-eds by Palestinians than by Israelis during  the first half of 2011, with eleven comment pieces by nine Palestinian contributors in comparison with six by four Israelis Three of the Palestinians who contributed op-eds during this period were  either members of Hamas or strongly affiliated with it, and have endorsed  terrorist attacks.  Four further Palestinians were secular nationalists who also reject Israel’s legitimacy and endorse policies that would turn it into an Arab majority state…

Here’s one example demonstrating that the Guardian continued to license even terrorists committed to murdering Jews.

Musa Abumarzuq is deputy head of Hamas's political bureau

Musa Abumarzuq is deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau

Editors also published a letter in 2011 by a philosophy professor which explicitly defended the right of Palestinians to murder Israeli civilians (including, presumably, children) in terror attacks – an editorial decision which was actually defended by their readers’ editor following the uproar which ensued.

Here’s the letter:

Also in 2011, the Guardian editorialized about the ‘Arab Spring’, and actually praised the Palestinians for launching intifadas. 

The Guardian:

The leaders of Fatah and Hamas were obliged to reconcile by the forces stirring the Palestinian street. The negotiators of Fatah had stopped negotiating, and the fighters of Hamas had stopped fighting. Both had to respond to a simple idea: if one million Egyptians can fill Tahrir Square demanding Palestinian rights, why can’t Palestinians, who taught the Arab world how to mount insurrections, and mounted two intifadas of their own.

In 2012, during the war in Gaza (Operation Pillar of Defense) Associate Editor Seumas Milne wrote an op-ed defending the right of Hamas terrorists to launch terror attacks against Israelis, and argued that Israel has no such moral right to defend itself. 

Seumas Milne:

“So Gazans are an occupied people and have the right to resist, including by armed force (though not to target civilians), while Israel is an occupying power that has an obligation to withdraw – not a right to defend territories it controls or is colonising by dint of military power.

Even if Israel had genuinely ended its occupation in 2005, Gaza’s people are Palestinians, and their territory part of the 22% of historic Palestine earmarked for a Palestinian state that depends on Israeli withdrawal from the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem. Across their land, Palestinians have the right to defend and arm themselves, whether they choose to exercise it or not.”

Emboldened by the wave of change and growing support across the region, Hamas has also regained credibility as a resistance force, which had faded since 2009, and strengthened its hand against an increasingly discredited Palestinian Authority leadership in Ramallah in Ramallah. The deployment of longer-range rockets that have now been shown to reach Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is also beginning to shift what has been an overwhelmingly one-sided balance of deterrence

Oppressor vs. Oppressed Paradigm: 

In addition to what seems to be an almost fetishization of Palestinian political violence, the binary, oppressor-oppressed political framework in which they see the conflict seems to necessitate that they suspend moral judgment when dealing with what they see as the ‘weaker party’.  This moral tick betrayed itself in their 2011 editorial on the Palestine Papers noted above, where they opined about the notes released from the 2008 negotiations between Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas:

Guardian:

It is hard to tell who appears worst: the Palestinian leaders, who are weak, craven and eager to shower their counterparts with compliments; the Israelis, who are polite in word but contemptuous in deed; or the Americans, whose neutrality consists of bullying the weak and holding the hand of the strong

More recently, an official Guardian editorial on the current peace process (Israeli-Palestinian talks: perpetual motion, Jan. 1, 2014), began thus:

The secret of perpetual motion eludes scientists but sometimes seems close to being grasped by those involved in the so-called Israeli-Palestinian peace process. That process has too often been about avoiding peace rather than about achieving it. Movement with no other purpose except to suggest something useful is being done mocks the Palestinians, who have been waiting for more than a generation for a measure of justice.

It is important that the responsibility for this failure is assigned correctly, with the greatest part belonging to Israel, the next largest share to the United States and only the smallest portion to the Palestinians. They have been difficult and sometimes slippery negotiators, and they may – it is arguable – have missed some serious opportunities in the past. But there are two points that must always be borne in mind with the Palestinians: they are the aggrieved party; and they are by far the weakest party.

Indeed much of the Guardian’s world view seems dictated by such platitudes about the virtues of the putatively powerless.

As Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson said in defense of his notorious cartoon (during the Mavi Marmara row) which used biblical imagery in depicting murderous Israeli troops killing the dove of peace, while another soldier aimed his weapon at two unicorns:

 I do my level best to stick to the protocols of alternative comedy of the early 1980s, as well as to HL Mencken’s useful nostrum about afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted. In other words, I only attack people more powerful than me

Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian’s star reporter until late last summer, said at a conference of socialists recently that if you are pleasing the people in power…your job is not journalism.

Much of the Guardian’s shift editorially from the Zionist sympathies under its long time editor and owner CP Scott to their current pro-Palestinianism can arguably be traced to the way in which many on the left began to accept previously marginal theories on the necessity of understanding political affairs in the context of the relationship between the powerful and the powerless.  

Such elites soured on the Jewish State once (in the years following the Six Day War) they were no longer viewed as the underdog besieged on all sides by more powerful foes but, instead, as the confident, successful and militarily dominant modern state.  The Jewish people’s greatest sin, argued Pascal Bruckner, was “having emerged from their immemorial weakness” and, by “fearlessly resorting to force”, betrayed the role of victim that had always been assigned to them.

However, more sober minds would surely understand that Israel’s virtue is not dependent upon either its power relationship with its foes, but, rather, by the inherent justness of its cause: its exceptional tolerance towards religious, ethnic and sexual minorities; the strength, vitality and endurance of its democracy; the dynamism of its economy and disproportionate quantity of scientific advances, and the fact that it continues to faithfully carry out one of its primary missions, to serve as a refuge and safe haven for Jews everywhere – a role Theodore Herzl characterized as “the Guardian of the Jews”.  

Similarly, any intellectually credible assessment of the Palestinian people – one not compromised by the bigotry of low expectations – must avoid the temptation of seeing Palestinians as abstractions, and instead view them as complex political actors who are morally accountable for their decisions.  Those who suggest that Palestinians have no choice but to walk into pizza parlors and ignite suicide vests, sending thousands of pieces of shrapnel coursing through the limbs and organs of innocent men, women and children - all of whom are ‘powerless’ to resist the tyranny of such wanton violence – are not only negating the humanity of the Israeli victim, but denying the moral agency of the Palestinian perpetrator.

If negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians do break down, the Palestinians will still retain the power to freely decide whether to continue pursuing their interests through the political arena, or to return to the path of violence and destruction.  If they choose the latter, then Palestinians, and Palestinians alone, will bear moral responsibility for the unimaginable consequences.

And, if the worst does indeed happen, and Israelis are forced once again to bear the burden of a malicious campaign of terror, then the chances are good that Guardian editorials will fly off the presses ‘contextualizing’ the violence as understandable (if regrettable) last resort of the ‘downtrodden’, while all but ignoring their ‘more powerful’ victims.

Genuinely liberal voices, of course, would never countenance such a facile ethical response to a nihilistic, malevolent course of action, and would certainly never succumb to the fool’s moral calculus which equates weakness with virtue.

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Israel’s “beautiful resistance” to suicide bombers: A response to Lucy Winkett

A guest post by Richard Millett

St James’s Church’s Rector Lucy Winkett’s defence of her church’s installation of a replica of Israel’s security fence in a piece for ‘Comment is Free’ is a legal and moral failure (Bethlehem Unwrapped is about ‘beautiful resistance’, not taking sides’, Jan. 2).

First the legal side. She states that Israel’s security fence is “illegal under international law”. It is incredible that so many non-lawyers (and a few actual lawyers) state this with such ease when there is little proper evidence of such “illegality”.  Rector Winkett is relying on the 2004 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice. A frame repeatedly projected on to St James’s Church’s replica wall states “In 2004, the International Court of Justice in The Hague stated the security fence was illegal and it should be dismantled.”

But an advisory opinion is just that; advisory and an opinion. It sets no legal precedent.

Moreover, it is undeniable that Israel’s security fence has stopped Palestinian suicide bombers from attacking Israeli civilians, saving countless lives.

There are legal opinions for and against Israel’s security fence, but for Rector Winkett to declare the fence “illegal under international law” makes a mockery of her claim at ‘Comment is Free’ that “we are not ‘pro’ one side or another”.

On the moral side Rector Winkett derides as “irresponsible” those who claim “we are aligning ourselves with those who support the Holocaust, suicide bombings or that we are antisemitic”.

But Rector Winkett’s wish for Israel’s security fence to come down will encourage suicide bombers sent by the likes of Islamist terror group Hamas to resume their murder of Israeli civilians, including those living on the West Bank, which the fence has successfully disrupted.  (Indeed, the Hamas Charter specifically calls for the murder of Jews, and their leaders have explicitly called for the annihilation of the Jews.)

And then there are the organisations that St James’s Church has expressly aligned itself with for Bethlehem Unwrapped.

Rector Winkett writes that St James’s is supporting “a peaceful Palestinian principle known as ‘beautiful resistance’; expressed in theatres, music projects…”.

Sami Awad, director of the Holy Land Trust (a pro-Palestinian group with ties to Hamas and other terror groups), might believe in “beautiful resistance” but that doesn’t exclude a belief in violence. Awad is on record as saying that such non-violent resistance “is not a substitute for the armed struggle.

Incidentally, all net proceeds from Bethlehem Unwrapped go to the Holy Land Trust. (That is should there be any net proceeds, the cost of the 12 day replica security fence installation being an incredible £30,000.)

Meanwhile, recent news footage shows Interpal’s primary trustee Essam Mustafa with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

And War On Want and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions are part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a movement that campaigns for Israel’s destruction.

Rector Winkett writes in her ‘Comment is Free’ piece that all viewpoints are listened to without exception and that visitors have been allowed to write a prayer or message of peace on the wall and that anything offensive has been immediately removed. She also writes that most conversations have been respectful.

Sadly, many have not been. A woman going in to St James’s Church for Bethlehem Unwrapped’s comedy evening responded to a question about the Holocaust with “What Holocaust?” A supporter of Israel was called a “friggin Jew” and “quenelle4 ever” appeared on the replica security fence (see middle of replica fence below written in blue):

wallquenelle

Rector Winkett also writes that people have written “this wall saves lives”. However, this was subsequently changed to “this wall enslaves lives”.

Bethlehem Unwrapped is not a respectful project however much Rector Winkett is trying to convince us. It mocks Israel’s legitimate attempts to save precious lives.

And it fails to recognise even the possibility that the main problem for Bethlehem’s Christians is not the security fence at all but intimidation and violence by Hamas similar to that carried out by Islamists elsewhere.

Moreover, St James’s Church’s Bethlehem Unwrapped festival has attracted antisemites, Holocaust deniers, those campaigning for the destruction of Israel and those who condone violence to that end.

This may not have been St James’s Church’s intention but this is what has happened and for this Rector Winkett should apologise to Britain’s Jewish community which is bearing the main brunt of the backlash.

The biggest irony is that St James’s Church itself is protected by a security fence; a tall metal fence that contains a locked door. When the door is unlocked it is heavily guarded. Some may call this a checkpoint.

St James’s Church is, understandably, protecting itself from anyone harbouring ill feeling towards it and who may be inclined to carry out an atrocity similar to those carried out against Churches in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria and Egypt by militant Islamists.

Israel is doing the same.

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News that Bugs Bunny may be Jewish sends Gilad Atzmon into a rage

CiF Watch contributor Gidon Ben-Zvi broke the news yesterday for the Algemeiner that a noted Jewish-British cinematic historian has claimed that Bugs Bunny may in fact be Jewish.

bugs

Ben-Zvi:

According to film scholar David Yehuda Stern, Bugs Bunny was created by a Jewish producer, lived in a Jewish neighborhood, has a distinctly New York/Jewish accent and uses his wit and sense of humor to avoid all attempts to eliminate him.

Stern, who watched thousands of animated shorts that feature Bugs Bunny, noted in his presentation that there are Jewish fingerprints all over the smart aleck cartoon character, including the very voice of Bugs Bunny – Jewish actor Mel Blanc.

The New York neighborhood Bugs grew up in is teeming with obviously Jewish characters, such as ultra-Orthodox Jews and other stereotypically Eastern European figures from the turn of the 20th century.

The Algemeiner’s cheeky Christmas ‘revelation’ about the “Wascally Wabbit” was shared widely yesterday on social media sites such as Twitter and, in fact, this writer’s link to the story on Facebook garnered more than few comments by Jewish and non-Jewish friends alike, all eager to dissect this animated genealogical controversy.

However, there was at least one antisemitic extremist who didn’t find the news at all amusing.

atzmon

Writing at Veterans Today, an aggregator for conspiracy-oriented and right-wing extremist websites, Atzmon wrote the following:

On Christmas Eve the ultra Zionist Algemeiner decided to break out the news to the world -“Bugs Bunny might be Jewish”

The Jewish outlet reported today that, ‘a noted Jewish-British cinematic historian has claimed that the world’s most famous rabbit displays prominent Jewish characteristics.” According to the Jewish scholar David Yehuda Stern, Bugs Bunny was “created by a Jewish producer, lived in a Jewish neighbourhood, has a distinctly New York/Jewish accent and uses his wit and sense of humour to avoid all attempts to eliminate him.”

I guess that when we talk about Hollywood’s indoctrination in the context of Jewish Power, we should feel free to refer to the Zionist outlet as well as the ‘noted Jewish cinematic historian’.

Of course, Atzmon’s response to Ben-Zvi’s article wouldn’t come as a surprise to readers of this blog. As we’ve noted previously, Atzmon is a prolific anti-Semite who has engaged in ‘Holocaust Revisionism’ while simultaneously arguing that, if Hitler’s genocide did occur as historians “claim”, the mass murder of six million Jews can at least partly be explained by Jews’ villainous behavior.  On this latter note, he’s claimed that Hitler’s views about Jews may one day be vindicated.  

Atzmon also has explicitly charged that Jews are indeed trying to take over the world, and has endorsed of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, arguing about the antisemitic forgery that “it is impossible to ignore its prophetic qualities and its capacity to describe” later Jewish behavior.

He also once accused CiF Watch of being a “Jewish Supremacist” site after we influenced the Guardian to remove his book, The Wandering Who?, from their online bookshop.

Interestingly, Atzmon ends his piece at Veteran’s Today by posting the following YouTube clip of Bugs ‘shilling’ for what he terms the “USA propaganda machine”.

And, really, what self-respecting Jew hater wouldn’t be outraged by such an insensitive and stereotypical portrayal of Nazi mass murderers.

Finally, in light of Atzmon’s political sympathies, we did some research and found what we believe to be a suitable alternative to the dangerously Semitic toon – a rabbit who definitely could not be accused of being part of the Jewish power structure:

Rabbit120208_468x338

Naturally, the Jews who control Hollywood (and the Zionist lobby) would never allow American TV to air such marginalized genocidal voices.

Harriet Sherwood audaciously suggests that Palestinians have abandoned terror

One of the many articles published in early November by the Guardian about the Swiss report on the death of Yasser Arafat concluding that the late Palestinian leader was likely poisoned – a theory contradicted by a subsequent  French report - was penned by Harriet Sherwood, and titled Arafat polonium find likely to be another hurdle for peace talks.  

Sherwood’s story strangely argued that the Swiss findings were “likely to worsen the already corrosive atmosphere of the faltering peace negotiations and fuel popular demands that the Palestinian leadership walk out”, and, we noticed after reviewing the article again, this even more curious conclusion about Palestinians.

Arafat was a man who divided the world: revered by Palestinians and their supporters, reviled by Israel and its allies. Nine years after his death, a portrait of him still hangs in most Palestinian homes. Nonetheless, the Palestinian people have inevitably moved on. Acts of violence, espoused by Arafat, are rare in the West Bank, and rocket fire from Gaza has dropped; instead, the Palestinian leadership has invested its hopes in diplomacy and negotiations.

The broad suggestion that Palestinians have largely abandoned Arafat’s ‘strategy’ of terrorism represents an almost staggering distortion based on empirical data on the quantity of terror attacks since his death.  (In 2005 alone, 2,990 Palestinian terror attacks were recorded.)  Further, though such attacks have decreased overall in comparison to the height of the 2nd Intifada, this reduction is largely attributed to the construction of Israel’s security fence and more effective counter-terror measures, not changing Palestinian attitudes towards terror.

Additionally, Sherwood’s claim that “acts of violence…are rare in the West Bank” is also simply not true.  As BBC Watch’s Hadar Sela recently reported, “statistics provided by the ISA [Israel Security Agency] for the months July to November 2013 shows that the number of terror attacks taking place in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] and Jerusalem since the renewal of direct negotiations between Israel and the PLO on July 29th has more than doubled”. 

Terror incidents since July, 2013.

Sherwood’s additional claim that “rocket fire from Gaza has dropped” is also extremely misleading.  As the graph below on rocket attacks from Gaza demonstrates, rocket attacks from Gaza increased dramatically since Arafat’s death in 2004 (and Hamas’s control of the Strip in 2006).   While rocket attacks did decrease following the Gaza war (Cast Lead) in 2008-09, they increased again each year after the conflict until Israel launched an eight-day war in November 2012 (Pillar of Defense).

graphBeyond the statistical evidence contradicting Sherwood’s specific claims, it’s hard to understand how anyone covering the region as long as she has could possibly come to the conclusion that Palestinians have in any way abandoned terrorism.  In addition to the Palestinians’ glorification of terrorists, a comprehensive report on Arab public opinion by Pew Global in September demonstrated that “support for suicide bombing and other violence aimed at civilian targets is most widespread in the Palestinian territories“.  A staggering 62% of Palestinian Muslims, per this poll, believe that such attacks “are often or sometimes justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies”.

pal terrorism supportThough we’ve, on occasion, noted reports by Sherwood which suggest a modest amount of improvement in her coverage of the region, the amount of disinformation conveyed in those two sentences we cited (on Palestinian attitudes towards terror) again reminds us that her pro-Palestinian sympathies will trump a sincere commitment to accuracy almost every time.

Gaza fisherman fight Israeli “savagery”: Fisking a Guardian Group feature

The Observer (sister publication of the Guardian) devoted over 3400 words to a Sunday Magazine feature on the Israeli ‘assault’ on Gaza’s fishing industry.

gaza

The article was written by Alex Renton, a commentator on issues relating to global poverty, and was based largely on his first-person account with Palestinian fishermen on a vessel off the coast of Gaza. 

We’re first introduced to the skipper of the fishing vessel in the following passage, which notes the putatively argumentative and abrasive nature of the people in the region.

It’s nearly dark. A couple of Israeli F-16 jets make twin scratches across the glow in the southeast, above the Egyptian border. “They own all the world,” mutters old Abu Nayim. But, for now, this feels like the most peaceful place you could find on this crowded coast, where there live some of the most disputatious people in the planet. There’s not much to tell you that this is a very risky way to catch fish.

Israeli Navy fires on vessel?

The passage above is followed by this photo – the same one used to illustrate the feature in the Observer print edition.

fishing under fire

The caption reads:

Under fire: an Israeli gunboat fires on a Palestinian fishing boat/ Photograph: Gianluca Panella for the Observer

However, the illuminated water rising above the vessel would likely indicate that warning shots were fired into the water, near the vessel.

Israelis shoot the messenger?

The previous passage continues thus:

But his son, 22-year-old Mukhtar, is more anxious. He was on the boat on Monday when the Israeli navy put four bullets into the fibre-glass tender – a felucca – that’s bobbing behind us. He warns Gianluca, the photographer, who has his telephoto lens out – “If they see you poking that out, they will shoot at you.”

The quote – suggesting that the Israeli Navy has a habit of firing on photojournalists – is of course left un-examined by Renton.

“To go over six miles is death”?

They bob at anchor, their lights festive against the dark ocean. We’re close to the limit, as close as Abu Nayim dares, because the further out to sea the more sardines there are. “To go over six miles is death,” says Abu Nayim.

Actually, the most recent Palestinian civilians killed at sea were killed by the Egyptian Navy which, by all accounts, appears to be much more trigger-happy than the IDF when patrolling the seas

Israeli Navy tosses live grenades at fishing nets?

The above passage continues thus:

Once, when he may have drifted over, an Israeli gunboat tossed a live grenade on to the nets. In the past month the fishing boats of Gaza have come under fire 10 times.

The charge, left unchallenged by the Observer contributor, that the Israeli Navy “tossed a live grenade on to the nets”, seems highly unlikely. And, we were unable to find any news sources making a similar claim.

Israeli Navy “curses the prophet”?

There’s another one-second blast of machine-gun fire. I can see the Israeli boat, so close to the fishing boat that its huge bow-wave gleams white in the lights. It’s circling the fishermen at high-speed, the wake throwing the fishing boat around. There’s shouting, through a megaphone. “The Israelis are insulting them,” says my interpreter. He doesn’t want to say the words. “They curse the prophet. They call the fishermen ‘son of a dog’. Tell them to go back to Palestine.”

Though there is no way to prove or disprove it, the claim – alleged by Renton’s interpreter – that Israelis cursed Muhammad through the boat’s megaphone again simply strains credulity. 

Israel is destroying a once thriving fishing industry.

Not so long ago, Gaza had a thriving fishing industry. In 1994 the Oslo peace accords with Israel granted the Palestinian enclave, which was formed largely by refugees from the 1948 war that followed the founding of Israel, rights to fish up to 20 nautical miles offshore. That supported a fishing industry, according to a study done by the United Nations Foodand Agriculture Organisation (FAO), of some 4,000 boat-owning families. In 2004 they landed nearly 3,000 tonnes of fish. It was crucial to the nutrition of the 1.7 million people of the Gaza Strip, more than half of whom were dependent on food aid, even then.

It’s true that in 2004 Palestinians in Gaza landed nearly 3,000 tonnes of fish. However, the implication most would draw from this is that the tonnage has decreased every year since the Israeli blockade in 2006 – a claim easily disproven by figures provided by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS).  As you can see, 2004 was a statistical anomaly.  In 2003, the catch was roughly 1.5 tons, while in 2005 the catch was 1.8 tons.   The catch in 2012 (just under 2.1 tons), as you can see in the PCBS chart below, was higher than in the three previous years.

PCBS. (click to enlarge)

PCBS Data. (click to enlarge)

 Sewage.

Three miles or six, the industry’s collapse was inevitable. Fishing inshore is poor, and there’s an added danger because of Gaza’s failed sewage system. That was built to serve 400,000 people, and it has collapsed because of war damage and lack of materials to maintain it. Eighty-nine million litres of raw or partially treated waste water go straight into the sea every day. Last year the fishermen’s catch was less than half what it had been 10 years before

However, as Reuters reported last month, the sewage system’s failure is largely due to “Egypt’s…crackdown on cross-border smuggling tunnels that used to bring fuel in cheaply”, which forced Gaza’s waste water treatment plant to close. Additional factors leading to the fuel crisis include “political infighting” between Hamas and Fatah, a fact confirmed recently by a Hamas spokesperson (and one notable Gaza resident).  If the sewage is indeed harming the Gaza fishing sector, it seems largely due to Egyptian restrictions and Palestinian infighting.

“Savage” Israelis?

Fishing is a harsh trade at any time, but here it is made rather more risky by the Israeli navy. As I witnessed, it makes its own arbitrary rules about the fishing zone, and exacts savage punishments for those who break them. 

As Renton noted elsewhere in the article, the overwhelming majority of fishermen who go beyond the nautical limit are not harmed at all.  Some are detained, while others are simply led back to an area closer to the Gaza coast.  Renton wrote that “often fishermen will be taken to Israeli ports, blindfolded and handcuffed and questioned under ‘aggressive interrogation’ (the UN’s phrase) and then, after what may be several days’ detention, charged a fee to be transported back to the border.”  However you can reasonably characterize such consequences, the word “savage” is clearly meaningless hyperbole.

The “World’s largest prison”?

For the people of Gaza, then numbering 1.5 million, normal life ended. Not since they were children had any of the young men I went fishing with left the “prison” – that’s David Cameron’s term.

Actually, per Twitter, that’s also a term fancied by Alex Renton:

tweet

It’s your fault the Jews are here.

In the penultimate paragraph there is this curious exchange between the journalist and one of the protagonists:

“You’re from Britain,” says the eldest son, Nayim. “It’s your fault. You invited the Jews to come from Europe to here, to take our land.” I demurred: it was more complicated than that. “What about the Balfour declaration?” he asked – referring to the note signed in 1917 by Britain’s foreign secretary AJ Balfour, declaring that Britain favoured the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. I thought about telling him that Balfour was my grandmother’s uncle, and that my own great-uncle fought Israeli terrorists in Jerusalem in 1947, as a British policeman. But what I said was: “It’s true, we are part of the history. We are responsible, too.”

There’s so much to unpack in this exchange between the ‘victim and accused’.  Even more troubling than Renton’s failure to challenge the anti-historical charge that Jews were “invited” from Europe to take Palestinian land is his insistence on his own moral innocence. Renton is on the right side of history. His family fought the Jews. 

Finally, someone wrote a response to Renton in the reader comment section beneath his article at The Observer.  The response (to the passage we noted above) was inexplicably deleted by ‘CiF’ moderators.  However, we were able to take a screen shot of the comment before its deletion. Here is the text:

Palestine once the Arabs (not in those days called Palestinians) made it clear they didn’t want Jewish immigrants, even though Ottoman censuses showed that Jerusalem had a Jewish majority from the first census in the mid-19th century.

Following bloody pogroms in Palestine by Arabs against Jews in the late 1920s and into the 1930s the pro-Arab British assured the Arab leadership that only a few thousand European Jews a year would henceforth be allowed in with an absolute total limit of 75,000. This was after Hitler had come to power and when Jews from across Europe were desperately seeking sanctuary somewhere, anywhere. Britain, the Dominions and colonies didn’t want most of them before, during or after the Holocaust. From the 1930s until 1948 the Royal Navy blockaded the coast of Palestine and turned back and even sunk (yes, sunk) merchant ships carrying Holocaust survivors to prevent them reaching ports. Thousands of Holocaust survivors from across Europe were interned by the British in camps on Cyprus.

Even before 1948 when Israel came into existence as a legal state and was immediately attacked by several Arab armies and air forces, there were Arab schemes to destroy any prosperity that Jews might generate even though thousands of Arabs from Jordan, Lebanon and Syria had settled in Palestine as Jews immigrated, attracted by the economic benefits Jews were developing. That is why as early as 1945 there was an Arab Boycott of Jews organization sponsored by the Arab League. (Not boycott of Israel, which didn’t then exist, but boycott of all things Jewish.)

As Alex Renton also knows, I am sure, approximately 850,000 Jews were forced to leave Muslim countries from 1948 onward and most of them tried to get to Israel. These were not Jews from Europe, these were Jews who lived in Arab countries, spoke Arabic and had absorbed Arab culture and had lived in North Africa and the Middle East since long before most of these regions were conquered by the Arabs and long before the arrival of Islam.

It is never explained why it seems to be a perfectly acceptable stance for some pro-Palestinians to support those Arabs who want to ‘remove’ Jews who live in Israel, even if they are from families who have always lived in what is now Israel. Both Hamas and the PA have publicly stated that no Jew will be permitted to live in ‘liberated’ Palestine.

Yes, Mr. Renton, it is indeed “a bit more complicated” than you suggest.