Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent takes aim at ‘hasbara goons’

Here’s a Tweet from earlier today by the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont:

Though we’re not sure what his Tweet was specifically referring to, the word ‘hasbara’ (a Hebrew word which merely means ‘explaining’) is often used by anti-Israel activists to characterize, in a pejorative manner, those who defend Israel online.

Tellingly, if you Google the term “Hasbara Goons”, the first two results show posts from the hate site, Mondoweiss.


Interestingly, Beaumont received some flack from his swipe at pro-Israel activists, in the following replies:


Beaumont perhaps should refer to the Guardian’s Social Media Guidelines for Journalists:

The Guardian has created a set of guidelines for staff on the use of blogging, tweeting and the use of social media in order to maintain editorial standards and help create effective communities on the web.

staff are asked to remember the former editor CP Scott’s famous dictum that “comment is free, but facts are sacred” by not blurring facts and opinions, and to exemplify the Guardian’s community standards in contributions.

The community standards, which Guardian journalists are asked to exemplify, include 10 guidelines, and summarizes their suggestions as follows:

In short:

- If you act with maturity and consideration for other users, you should have no problems. 
Don’t be unpleasant. Demonstrate and share the intelligence, wisdom and humour we know you possess.
Take some responsibility for the quality of the conversations in which you’re participating. Help make this an intelligent place for discussion and it will be.

In addition to being shrill and unprofessional, it seems clear that Beaumont’s Tweet was thoroughly inconsistent with his own company’s community standards. 

UK journalist responds positively to criticism (Hint: he doesn’t work at the Guardian)

In an overall commendable article about Oxfam at The Telegraph (The Darker Side of Oxfam, Feb. 5), Jake Wallis Simons wrote the following:

“In December, a controversial bill was passed [in the Knesset] which would levy a 45 percent on donations from foreign organisations or governments to NGOs that support BDS, demand Israeli soldiers to be tried in international courts, or support terrorism against Israel.”

The only problem, as Gidon Shaviv of Presspectiva (CAMERA’s Hebrew affiliate) immediately realized, was that the bill did not in fact become law.  This prompted the following exchange on Twitter:

screen captureNot only did Simons thank Shaviv for the information (backed up with an article about the bill in question), but he revised the passage accordingly.

Simons’ positive response to Shaviv’s Tweet is especially worth noting in light of the manner in which editors at the Guardian and other British newspapers often stubbornly resist making changes to articles with even the most obvious distortions or errors.  

Journalists and editors in the UK would be wise to heed Simons’ example, and view the work CAMERA and its affiliates undertake to promote media accuracy as consistent with the value of accountability that their crusading journalists are often demanding of others.

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What the Guardian won’t report: Happy and successful Arab citizens of Israel

H/T Elder of Ziyon

While polls indicating that Israelis are among the happiest citizens in the world are not surprising (they came in 7th in a 2011 global happiness index survey, with 63% of respondents saying were happy with their lives), a recent polls indicating that Israeli Arabs are largely content, successful and patriotic is perhaps a bit more counter-intuitive.  

Yet, According to a recent poll (“Democracy Index 2011“) on behalf of the Israel Democracy Institute, 52.8% of Arab citizens answered yes to the question of whether they are proud to be Israelis, while only 28.3% of respondents said they were “not at all proud”. Additionally, the same poll demonstrated that 45% of Arab citizens of Israel agreed that it is “important or very important” to strengthen the military might of Israel, while the  percentage that responded that it “wasn’t important” to them was only 29%.


Israeli border patrol officers protect Arab citizens during rocket attack on Nov. 17

Additionally, according to a report in the Jerusalem Post, an Education Ministry summary of 2011 test scores showed that Israeli students (from all sectors of society) registered their highest scores on international tests since they started being recorded in the 1990s.  In math, for instance, Israelis are now ranked 7th in the world based on test scores.

The report concluded that Israel’s Arabs, while lagging behind their Hebrew-speaking counterparts, also scored higher than in previous years in mathematics, sciences and reading comprehension.

However, even more interesting is how well Israeli Arabs performed in math, reading, and science compared to their counterparts in Arab countries.

Elder of Ziyon wrote the following:

In reading, fourth grade Israeli Arabs scored 479 (vs. 568 for Hebrew-speakers.) But no Arab country scored higher – UAE 439, Saudi Arabia 430, Qatar 425, Oman 391.

In science, eighth grade Israeli Arabs scored 481 (520 for Hebrew speakers.) Compare to UAE 465, Bahrain 452, Jordan 449, Morocco 376 – and the PA with 420.

In math, eighth grade Israeli Arabs scored 465 (vs. 536 for Hebrew speakers.) Compare that to UAE 456, Lebanon 449, Morocco 391, Oman 366 – and the PA with 404.

Additionally, I’ve previously citedpoll indicating that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians living in eastern Jerusalem (citizens or permanent residents) not only don’t want to divide Jerusalem as part of any future peace agreement, but, when asked if they would consider moving to a city in the new Palestinian state if their Jerusalem neighborhood became part of Israel, 54% said they wouldn’t move, with only 27% expressing their desire to move.

Such polls on Arab happiness and their relative academic success generally wouldn’t come as too big of a surprise to Israelis who work, socialize and otherwise come into daily contact with their fellow Israeli citizens.  

However, you can be assured that such reports would likely never find their way into the Guardian.


Jews and Arabs at the Dead Sea

Jews and Arabs at the Dead Sea

Israel: Out of Many, One (Or, what is the purpose of Luxembourg?)

The ethnic, national, and racial diversity in the Ulpan (intensive Hebrew) class I attended shortly after becoming a citizen of Israel, is a legacy of the cultural diversity and far-flung nature of the Jewish Diaspora: it is said that Jews have come to modern Israel from 103 countries and speak more than 70 different languages. In my class alone, there are Jews from Ethiopia, Peru, Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, Russia, Belarus, Moldova, the UK, Italy, Germany, and the U.S.

In addition, other nationalities represented in this global melting pot of Israel are Morocco, Yemen, Iran, Algeria, Tunisia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Turkey, Libya, Syria, India, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Canada, Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, South Africa, and others.

Because our instructor used English while conducting class, she would, throughout the day, when explaining something of special importance, often ask the Russian speakers in the class who are fluent enough in English to translate what she said for the Russian non-English speakers, and would ask the same of the Spanish speakers. In the case of those who speak other languages that don’t have a companion national compatriot in class, they had nobody else to rely on other than whatever little English they knew and whatever body language and other non-verbal communication the instructor used. For instance, the Ethiopian in our class, Hanoch, who spoke hardly any English, had nobody else in class to ask for assistance, as nobody speaks his native language of Amharic.

However, on the first day of class, when we were all gathered into the assembly room for an introduction to the Ulpan and to the staff, and we sang Hatikvah, Hiney Ma Tov, and Oseh Shalom, almost everyone was familiar enough with the tradition and spirit of the songs, if not the Hebrew lyrics, that it was as if we were all speaking the same language – the language of the dream we all had to live in Israel, to make Aliyah, and to fulfill the ideals articulated in Hatikvah of being “a free people in a free land.”

The unity of the Jewish nation, which often eludes many Jews and non-Jews alike, the common narrative we share – despite our differing languages, cultures, religious affiliations, and nationalities – of thousands of years of struggles, dreams, and destiny, makes Israel, by almost any measurement, among the more unified nations in the world.

(Indeed, in a 2009 survey, 88% of Israel’s Jews said they were proud to be Israeli, and 95% of them were willing to fight for their country, according to the patriotism survey, making Israel among the most patriotic nations in the world. Indeed, such results places Israel second only to the United States in surveys measuring patriotism and overall sense of national purpose. While Israelis, like citizens in all countries, differ on my things, there simply is no crisis in Israel on the meaning and significance of being an Israeli.)

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