Why does the Guardian portray Hamas as a victim of Israeli aggression?

“Our narrative has gained the upper hand in the media” – Hamas deputy political leader Ismail Haniyeh

As Jews in the UK and across the world were welcoming in the new year on Wednesday evening, the Guardian Group published yet another official editorial reminding readers which party was to blame for the 50 day war between Israel and Hamas.

Whilst nobody familiar with the political leanings of the media group would be surprised that they judged the Jewish state guilty, their September 24th polemic (The Guardian view on the human, economic and political costs of the Gaza war) is noteworthy as a reminder that their top editors in London believe that even the most extreme elements within Palestinian society aren’t responsible for their actions.

The Guardian editorial parrots Hamas talking points in claiming that the movement was strengthened by the war; sows doubt over Hamas culpability for the murder of three Israeli teens, despite a claim of responsibility from one of their leaders as well as an admission by the cell’s ringleader that Hamasniks in Gaza funded the “operation”; falsely characterizes Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli cities as a “response” to Israeli aggression; and challenges “Israel’s reasons for going to war“, completely erasing the history of the conflict.

In response to their claim of Israeli responsibility for the start of hostilities, it’s notable that, even the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent acknowledged that Netanyahu “had shown a marked reluctance to be drawn into a military operation” in the first place, and that Hamas rejected a July 15th ceasefire initiated by Egypt (accepted by Israel) which would have prevented the IDF ground invasion as well as roughly 90% of the total fatalities in the war.  (Remarkably, this July 15th proposal was essentially the same terms as the ceasefire that was accepted by Hamas on Aug 26th.)

So, two important questions need answering:

What are the Guardian’s reasons for portraying Hamas as victims of Israeli aggression? 

What was Hamas’s reasons for going to war with Israel?

The answer to both questions takes us back to former AP correspondent Matti Friedman’s analysis in Tablet Magazine.

First, the Guardian’s framing:

The Israel story is framed in the same terms that have been in use since the early 1990s—the quest for a “two-state solution.” It is accepted that the conflict is “Israeli-Palestinian,” meaning that it is a conflict taking place on land that Israel controls—0.2 percent of the Arab world—in which Jews are a majority and Arabs a minority. The conflict is more accurately described as “Israel-Arab,” or “Jewish-Arab”—that is, a conflict between the 6 million Jews of Israel and 300 million Arabs in surrounding countries. (Perhaps “Israel-Muslim” would be more accurate, to take into account the enmity of non-Arab states like Iran and Turkey, and, more broadly, 1 billion Muslims worldwide.) This is the conflict that has been playing out in different forms for a century, before Israel existed, before Israel captured the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank, and before the term “Palestinian” was in use.

The “Israeli-Palestinian” framing allows the Jews, a tiny minority in the Middle East, to be depicted as the stronger party.

Second, Hamas’s reasons for going to war:

A knowledgeable observer of the Middle East cannot avoid the impression that the region is a volcano and that the lava is radical Islam, an ideology whose various incarnations are now shaping this part of the world. Israel is a tiny village on the slopes of the volcano. Hamas is the local representative of radical Islam and is openly dedicated to the eradication of the Jewish minority enclave in Israel, just as Hezbollah is the dominant representative of radical Islam in Lebanon, the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and so forth.

Understanding what happened in Gaza this summer means understanding Hezbollah in Lebanon, the rise of the Sunni jihadis in Syria and Iraq, and the long tentacles of Iran. It requires figuring out why countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia now see themselves as closer to Israel than to Hamas. Above all, it requires us to understand what is clear to nearly everyone in the Middle East: The ascendant force in our part of the world is not democracy or modernity. It is rather an empowered strain of Islam that assumes different and sometimes conflicting forms, and that is willing to employ extreme violence in a quest to unite the region under its control and confront the West. Those who grasp this fact will be able to look around and connect the dots.

This represents a morally intuitive and historically accurate way to explain the ‘root cause’ of the summer war that Guardian journalists and editors will never provide, which explains why scores of Guardian readers will continue to feel sympathy for Hamas, impute the worst motives to the Jewish state, and never, ever be able to assess the region soberly, objectively and accurately.

Guardian/Reuters buries the lead on Hamas targeting of Palestinian civilians

Hidden in the final sentence of a Guardian/Reuters report on Sept. 20th, Egypt to host Gaza talks between Palestinian factions, on upcoming reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas and subsequent indirect talks between Hamas and Israel, is a remarkable accusation – albeit one not surprising to those familiar with Hamas‘s widespread human rights violations against their own civilians.

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CAMERA’s Tamar Sternthal: Media coverage of Israel during the war in Gaza

My colleague Tamar Sternthal, the Director of the Israel office of CAMERA, recently joined Josh Hasten for an in-studio interview at Voice of Israel to discuss media coverage of Israel during Operation Protective Edge.

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Guardian champions their favorite Israeli causes: Disloyalty and Insubordination

Former AP correspondent Matti Friedman, in his essay at Tablet on media coverage of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, explained that reporters “working in the international press corps here understands quickly that what is important in the Israel-Palestinian story is Israel”, whose “every action and flaw is analyzed, criticized and aggressively reported”, while, alternately, “Palestinians are not taken seriously as agents of their own fate”.

The Guardian coverage of Israel and the greater region perfectly reflects this principle.

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Miracle in Gaza: Power plant the Guardian declared “destroyed” comes back to life

Elder of Ziyon just published a fascinating update on the widely reported story from late July, in which Gaza’s only power plant was allegedly completely “destroyed” by an Israeli missile strike.   

Here’s how the Guardian covered the incident in a July 30th report by Harriet Sherwood.

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The Gaza War in 5 minutes: Richard Kemp explains what the media didn’t report

In the following video produced by Jerusalem U, Col. Richard Kemp, the former commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, explains the egregious double standards in media coverage of Israel during the recent Gaza conflict.

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Guardian publishes repulsive letter evoking Israel-Nazi analogy

Alvin Rosenfeld, in a recent essay at The Forward (Moral Emptiness of Holocaust Survivors Who Took on Israel, Aug. 28), argued that “stamping” Israel-Nazi analogies “with the moral authority that supposedly belongs to Holocaust survivors does not turn these lies into truth”.

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BREAKING: Foreign journalist shows openness to criticism

Earlier today, we posted about an article in the Independent on Gaza post-war reconstruction which included the claim that the only construction materials permitted to enter Gaza are those which come from Israeli sources.

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Matti Friedman discusses ‘An Insider’s Guide to the Most Important Story on Earth’

The lasting importance of this summer’s war, I believe, doesn’t lie in the [Gaza] war itself. It lies instead in the way the war has been described and responded to abroad, and the way this has laid bare the resurgence of an old, twisted pattern of thought and its migration from the margins to the mainstream of Western discourse—namely, a hostile obsession with Jews. The key to understanding this resurgence is not to be found among jihadi webmasters, basement conspiracy theorists, or radical activists. It is instead to be found first among the educated and respectable people who populate the international news industry; decent people, many of them, and some of them my former colleagues. – Matti Friedman (former AP correspondent)

On Aug. 26th we published excerpts from a masterful, widely shared article about media bias against Israel (in Tablet Magazine) by former AP correspondent Matt Friedman, titled ‘An Insider’s Guide to the Most Important Story on Earth‘. Recently, Friedman joined Yishai Fleisher for in-studio interview to discuss his article, and shed further light on the question of why the media gets the Arab-Israeli Conflict so consistently wrong.

Read Yiftah Curiel’s Guardian op-ed: ‘Hamas is single biggest barrier to peace’

, spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in London, published an op-ed at the Guardian titled ‘Hamas is the single biggest barrier to peace in Gaza‘.

yiftach

We encourage you to read it, and comment below the line.

 

CiF Watch prompts correction at the Indy over Hamas executions claim

An Aug. 22nd article in The Independent by Kashmira Gander about the war in Gaza included the following passage in reference to the recent public execution of 18 Palestinians by Hamas.
 
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 However, there were widely reported public executions in Gaza much more recently than the 90s.

So, it clearly is not accurate to claim that the recent public executions in Gaza were the first since the 1990s.

After our communication with Indy editors, they deleted the sentence which claimed that these recent executions were the first in the enclave since the 90s.

correction
We commend Indy editors on their positive response to our complaint.

Financial Times correspondent John Reed declares Hamas a ‘winner’

“Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper, but in Spain, for the first time, I saw newspaper reports which do not bear any relation to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie”

This is a quote by George Orwell about news reports during the Spanish Civil War, but, as former AP correspondent Matt Friedman explained in his masterful Tablet essay (An Insider’s Guide to the Most Important Story on Earth), Orwell’s words are just as apt in characterizing the media’s egregiously misleading coverage of Israel and the war in Gaza. 

The Orwell quote (cited by Friedman in his article) came to mind when we read the following passages in a report in the London-based Financial Times by John Reed titled ‘War in Gaza: Winners and Losers‘, which happened to overlap with Hamas’s own surreal assessment of the war.

Here’s the relevant passage in Reed’s report:

ft

Let’s take it apart:

Reed:

Before Protective Edge, Gaza’s ruling Islamist movement was in a corner. It was politically isolated, bankrupt, unable to pay its civil servants and forced by circumstances to reconcile with arch-rival Fatah.

And, after the war, Hamas is politically isolated, bankrupt, and still unable to pay its civil servants. Further, the current ceasefire deal which Hamas agreed to is almost exactly like the one Egypt proposed (which Israel accepted) but Hamas rejected on July 15, one week into the conflict, before the IDF destroyed their terror tunnels, and killed some of their top leaders.  

Hamas’s decision to reject the July 15th proposal represented a colossal miscalculation, and resulted in more Hamas fighters killed, a much greater depletion of their rocket capacity, and no perceivable military, strategic or political benefit.

Other Hamas ‘demands’ which haven’t been agreed to by Israel in the current ceasefire include opening a sea port and an airport in Gaza, and releasing additional Palestinian prisoners.

Reed:

In this context, the war was a welcome development. Hamas, for the third time in five years, confronted one of the world’s best armies and managed to hold on to power, calculating correctly that Israel would never embark on a longer and bloodier ground war in order to topple it.

How low can you set the bar? The mere fact that they ‘held on to power’ is a victory? Again, he doesn’t explain what concrete achievements they can reasonably boast. Also, it’s interesting that Reed fails to explain how the war was a “welcome development” for Palestinian civilians.

Reed:

Hamas rockets, built painstakingly over years by blockade-busting tactics, sent people across Israel running into shelters, killing six civilians and bringing most flights at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion airport to a halt for two days in July.

It’s almost as if Reed admires Hamas’s ‘grit’ in diverting humanitarian aid (which could have helped Gaza’s economy) for terror purposes. Plus, it’s interesting how such Jerusalem based correspondents covering the war, such as Reed, who almost universally downplayed the threat posed to Israeli civilians by the thousands of Hamas rockets, can now suggest that these same rockets ‘successfully’ terrorized Israel by killing six civilians, and sending them fleeing for bomb shelters. 

Reed:

Although much of Hamas’s arsenal is now depleted and many of its tunnels destroyed, fighting Israel to another ceasefire plays as a victory for many of its supporters.

Talk about burying the lead!  So, despite the fact that “Hamas’s [rocket] arsenal is now depleted and many [sic] of its tunnels destroyed”, Reed still maintains that a victory was achieved. 

Reed:

As after Operation Pillar of Defence in 2012, Hamas can begin firing again if it chooses. Granted, when the dust settles from this conflict and its spoils and destruction become clearer to Gazans, they could potentially turn on Hamas. There is no sign of this happening yet, however.

Of course, one of the biggest obstacles preventing Gazans from “turning on Hamas” is not any objective assessment of the war’s “achievements’ per se, but, rather, scenes such as these:

One of 22 Palestinians summarily executed by Hamas on Aug. 22

One of 22 Palestinians summarily executed by Hamas on Aug. 22

Finally, here are some facts ignored by Reed in his assessment:

  • IDF attacked 5,263 targets across Gaza during the war, hitting rocket launching sites, arms and munitions factories and warehouses, as well as the offices of Hamas commanders. Several top Hamas commanders and hundreds of Hamas fighters were killed. Over 34 known tunnels were destroyed.
  • Out of the 4,564 rockets and mortars fired at Israel from Gaza, over 475 landed in Gaza, killing an unknown number of Palestinians. 3,641 exploded in Israeli territory, but only 224 actually hit residential areas, while the remaining rockets fell in open areas; The Iron Dome intercepted at least 735. Six Israeli civilians were killed.

To simply state that Reeds’s assessment of Hamas’s achievements ‘does not bear any relation to the facts’ is an understatement of enormous proportions. 

CiF Watch prompts correction to erroneous Times of London headline

On Aug. 5th, the Times of London published an article (pay wall) titled ‘Refugee camp hit as Israel admits it broke truce’.

headline times of london

However, the article didn’t include any information even suggesting that Israel had “admitted” breaking the truce.  Indeed, news sites reported that the time of the attack (aimed at a senior Hamas operative) was clearly in dispute.

After several complaints to Times editors, they agreed to revise the headline.

revisedThe print edition ran this correction:

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We commend Times editors for their positive response to our complaint.

Mira Bar-Hillel falls for phony ‘IDF’ tweet ‘admitting’ to murdering children

For those unfamiliar with the British ‘journalist’ Mira Bar-Hillel (who contributes to the Independent), here are a few facts about her views on Jews and Israel:

  • She complained that Jews smear people unfairly with the charge of antisemitism to “gag into submission any critic of Israel”.
  • She evoked Nazi Germany in characterizing Israeli racism and IDF military actions in Gaza.
  • She accused British Jews (collectively) of ‘bombing Gaza’.
  • She bizarrely argued that British Jews don’t criticize Israeli actions in Gaza out of fear of being “ex-communicated” from the Jewish community. (She later admitted that she had no evidence to back this claim up.)
  • She has admitted to being “prejudiced against Jews”. (See her exact words)
  • She believes that “the message” of Jews controlling America is “entirely true” and “increasingly so”, and that Jewish lobbyists appear to be picking up some of the ideas from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and using them.

Now, the latest.

Here are two tweets from today by Bar-Hillel, which included a graphic purporting to represent an “IDF tweet”:

Here’s Bar-Hillel’s first tweet, with the “IDF tweet” attached.

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And, then, 8 minutes later she asks a few more of her Zionist nemeses to justify the ‘IDF tweet':

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We’re not sure if anyone out there, except Bar-Hillel and her motley crew of retweeters, could possibly believe in the authenticity of this “IDF” tweet “acknowledging” child murder, but, briefly:

It was clearly photoshopped from this real IDF tweet from Aug. 21:

And, the graphic was almost certainly taken from this IDF tweet

Mira Bar-Hillel wants so badly to believe that Israel murders children that she was willing to believe this absurd hoax tweet.

Tell us again why Bar-Hillel continues to pen op-eds for British newspapers (on the topics of Israel and antisemitism!) and lands interviews with the BBC and Sky News, on similar topics, as a ‘representative’ of the British Jewish community.