Indy buries story of murdered Jewish baby; focuses instead on briefly detained Palestinian boy

On Oct. 19th, per a video released by B’tselem, a Palestinian boy was arrested in Hebron for throwing stones at soldiers.  Fifteen minutes later, the soldiers released the boy after his father arrived and explained that he was mentally disabled.

On Oct. 22nd, a Palestinian Hamas supporter (Abdelrahman al-Shaludi, from the Silwan neighborhood of Jerusalem) with a history of antisemitic violence, rammed his car into pedestrians standing a light rail platform in Jerusalem on Wednesday, killing a 3 month old baby (Chaya Zissel Braun) and injuring others.

If you were the editor of a major British daily, which story would you be more likely to highlight?

Well, evidently editors at the Independent decided that the story of a briefly detained Palestinian stone thrower was of greater importance than the terrorist murder of a Jewish infant.  

Here’s a snapshot of the headline and photo of an Oct. 23rd article, written by James Rush.

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After eight paragraphs of text on the briefly detained Palestinian, which included a video of the incident, the Indy got around to mentioning the terror attack in Jerusalem.

Here are the final four paragraphs of their story:

In a separate incident on Wednesday in Jerusalem, a Palestinian with a history of anti-Israel violence slammed his car into a crowded railway station, killing a three-month-old baby girl and wounding eight people in what police called a terror attack.

Jeruslam mayor Nik Barkat said the girl and her parents, injured in the incident, were US citizens.

The violence came after months of tensions between Jews and Palestinians in east Jerusalem. Palestinians have demanded the section of the city to be their future capital.

The area has experienced unrest and near-daily attacks on the city’s light rail by Palestinian youths since a wave of violence over the summer, capped by the 50-day war between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza.

The Palestinian child arrested by Israeli soldiers for throwing rocks is safe, and home with his family.

The Jewish baby was buried today in Jerusalem.

Since Indy editors chose not to humanize the Jewish newborn, we’ll leave you with these photos of Chaya, in life and, tragically, in death.

chaya-zissel-braun-baby-terror-attack-jerusalem (1)

chaya-zissel-braun-baby-terror-attack-jerusalem-funeral

CiF Watch prompts revision to Economist claim about MK Zoabi’s suspension

Earlier in the month we posted about a curious omission in an Economist article titled ‘Us and Them‘, Aug. 2.  

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Israeli MK Haneen Zoabi

To buttress their broader theme on the putative ‘erosion of Israel’s democracy’, the characteristically anonymous article made the following claim about Israeli MK Haneen Zoabi:

This week the Knesset banned an Arab member, Haneen Zoabi, for six months for “aggressive behaviour” in anti-war demonstrations.

However, as we noted at the time, this is an inaccurate statement as it omits key information about the suspension.

MK Zoabi was suspended for six months from the Knesset (while still maintaining her voting rights in the Israeli legislative body) for two reasons – one of which the Economist completely omitted. 

While Zoabi’s suspension was in part due to an incident with a police officer at a protest rally (as they noted), the main reason was related to her assertion, in mid June, that the kidnappers of three Israeli teens (Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrah, and Gilad Shaar) were NOT terrorists – a comment she evidently didn’t amend, even after the boys’ bullet ridden bodies were discovered partially buried near Hebron on June 30.

Shimon Peres

We complained to Economist editors, and, in addition to slightly revising the text to note that Zoabi’s behavior at the protest was only one of the reasons for her suspension, they added the following addendum.

corexThough the text still doesn’t include the main reason for Zoabi’s suspension, editors’ acknowledgement that the original language was misleading is of course welcomed. 

Two Guardian cartoonists agree: Jewish life is overvalued by the media

Guardian cartoonists Steve Bell and Martin Rowson had nothing artistically to say during the 18 days in which the fate of the three kidnapped Israeli teens was unknown, and nothing to say since their bullet-ridden bodies were found near Hebron, victims of a savage attack in which the terrorists sang and cheered after shooting the Jews to death. 

However, a day after the funeral for Eyal, Naftali and Gilad, Steve Bell – who, in past cartoons has mocked those who complain that his cartoons advance antisemitic tropes, and has indeed demonstrated his ‘courage’ to speak truth to Jewish power – suddenly found his creative muse in what he evidently fears is the lack of symmetry between the value placed on Jewish and Palestinian lives:

Here’s the Bell cartoon published in the Guardian on July 2.

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Of course, Bell’s cartoon – which curiously depicts ‘hilltop settlements’ in the background – is attempting to impute a moral equivalence between the cold-blooded murder by Hamas terrorists of three innocent boys and the deaths of Palestinian combatants in the West Bank during IDF operations to rescue the teens, and complaining on the unequal attention paid to both sets of victims.  Jewish life, it seems, has become too valuable in the eyes of the international community.

Following Bell’s cartoon, we came across a Tweet by their other cartoonist, Martin Rowson, who previously has demonstrated that he won’t be silenced despite the ‘fact’ that Jews often attempt to silence their critics with false accusations of antisemitism.  Rowson, like Bell, fancies himself a truth teller who refuses to bow down to the pressure of a small but powerful minority.

Here’s the Tweet by Rowson on July 2, commenting on his colleague’s artistic efforts and comparing it with his own cartoon published by the Guardian on January 7, 2009 – during the war in Gaza (Operation Cast Lead). 

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Here’s a side by side comparison:

side by side

The interesting thing about the consistency between the two cartoonists in depicting the loss of Jewish and Palestinian life is how their visual agitprop comports with the broader Guardian narrative of the conflict.  

The Guardian sees its mission as, to quote Rowson, ‘afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted'; The Palestinians, so says the Guardian, are the weaker (“afflicted”) party in the conflict, while Israeli Jews represent the comfortable; Therefore, when contextualizing the loss of life on both sides, it is the duty of ‘progressive’ political cartoonists to advocate for the weaker Palestinians.

Of course, it would have been news to Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frankel and Gilad Shaar that they represented the ‘comfortable’ and their kidnappers were the ‘afflicted’ as multiple shots were fired at them at point-blank range, penetrating their bodies and ending their young lives.  

Economist is latest media outlet to falsely claim the 3 kidnapped teens are ‘settlers’

An article in the print edition of the Economist on June 21 titled ‘Stirring Bad Blood‘ included false claims in the opening and final sentences.

Here’s the first sentence of the anonymous report:

THE abduction of three young Jewish settlers on June 12th near the city of Hebron, in the south of the West Bank, has stirred Israeli emotions as viscerally as the kidnapping of a young Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, by militants of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement, eight years ago. 

However, as we noted in a post on June 16th (and noted elsewhere), two of the three teens are not settlers, a fact which, when pointed out to Guardian editors, resulted in a correction to their own false claim about the location of the Israeli teens’ homes. (The Indy, at our prompting, also corrected their false claim that all three teens were settlers.)

Additionally, the Economist article includes this claim in the final sentence:

A Facebook page posted by an Israeli calling for the execution of one Palestinian prisoner every hour until the young hostages were freed quickly attracted 17,000 likes.

However, as an accurate translation of the Hebrew on the Facebook page clearly indicates, the words “Palestinian” or “prisoner” are not present – a fact which prompted Guardian editors to improve their original faulty translation of the page in an article by Orlando Crowcroft on June 17th.

Here’s the correct translation of the Facebook page:

‘Until the teens are returned, every hour we shoot a terrorist.

We’ve been in touch with Economist editors over these errors and will update you when we receive a response.

Guardian refers to Israelis kidnapped by terrorists as “teenage settlers”

At what age, in the eyes of the media, can Israelis who live with their parents in communities across the green line be characterized as “settlers”?  Evidently, for the Guardian at least, such a pejorative can be imputed to a 16 year-old victim of Palestinian terror.

Here’s the headline of the Guardian’s first report (on Friday, June 13, by Peter Beaumont and Paul Lewis) about the three teenage yeshiva students kidnapped by terrorists on Thursday night in the Gush Etzion area of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).

headline

Here’s the opening passage:

Israeli security forces have launched a mass search of the Hebron hills after three teenage settlers, one believed to be a US citizen, were reported missing amid fears they may have been kidnapped by a Palestinian group.

First, the Guardian got it wrong, as two of the three teens do no in fact live in Israeli ‘settlements‘.

Per Times of Israel:

The three — Shaar (16) from the settlement of Talmon, Frenkel (16) a dual Israeli-American citizen from Nof Ayalon near Modi’in, and Yifrach (19) from Elad near Petah Tikva — were reportedly last spotted at a hitchhiking post in the vicinity of Hebron on Thursday night. No one has seen or heard from them since

Here’s a map of the three communities.  As you can clearly see, only Talmon, where Naftali Frenkel lives, is situated across the green line:

mapIn addition to the factual error, however, what possible moral significance does Beaumont and Lewis assign to the fact that the parents of one of the innocent Jewish teens decided at some point to move to an Israeli community across the green line?

3 missing boys

The three kidnapped teens, from left to right: Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel

Additionally, we’d like to know where precisely the Guardian is prepared to draw the line in their use of such a loaded term.  Would they refer to even young children (including infants) killed by Palestinian terrorists – such as the family members murdered by terrorists during the 2011 massacre in Itamar, including 11-year-old Yoav, 4-year-old Elad, and three-month-old Hadas – as “settlers”?

Let’s be clear: The Guardian’s use of the term “settler” – as an adjective to modify an otherwise factual description of an Israeli who’s been kidnapped, injured or killed by a Palestinian terrorist – represents a political decision which dehumanizes the victim, and serves as a potent reminder of the media group’s egregious bias even when publishing putatively straight news stories about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. 

Catherine Philp names a suspect in the Passover attack on Jewish family: The ‘settlements’

On Monday night a Palestinian sniper fired multiple rounds from a Kalashnikov rifle at a Jewish family travelling on Route 35 to their Passover Seder in Kiryat Arba, killing 47-year-old Baruch Mizrachi and wounding his pregnant wife and one of their young sons.

Though the IDF is still hunting for the perpetrator, the Times Middle East correspondent has already pronounced a likely suspect. Yes, you guessed it, ‘Israeli Settlers’.

Catherine Philp’s story on the lethal attack, quite callously, never names the victim – referring to Mizrachi alternately as “a policeman”, even though he wasn’t on duty or in uniform at the time of the attack, and “the driver” – and focuses almost entirely on news from the day before regarding four Jewish families who moved into Hebron consistent with a Supreme Court ruling determining the property was purchased legally.  

The narrative focus is already evident in the headline:

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The April 16th story (pay wall) begins thusly:

An Israeli policeman was shot dead near Hebron on the eve of the Passover festival as Jewish settlers celebrated their return to a disputed house in a Palestinian area of the West Bank city.

Three families moved into the building on Sunday evening, protected by Israeli soldiers, hours after Moshe Ya’alon, the Israeli defence minister, granted permission for their return — six years after their initial eviction.

The first apparent retaliation for the return of the settlers came on Monday night when a man opened fire on a car outside Hebron.

Remarkably, by the third paragraph Philp already establishes causation between the two events, without one iota of actual evidence and before, let’s remember, the culprits have even been apprehended or interrogated.

Philp continues, adding a bit more information on the nameless driver/policeman.

The driver, an Israeli policeman, was killed and his wife wounded. A nine-year-old boy in another car suffered light injuries.

However, the final ten paragraphs all deal with the broader story of the “provocation” of the continuing Jewish presence in Hebron, the oldest Jewish community in the world.

In total, only three out of fourteen paragraphs are devoted to the terrorist attack on a Jewish couple and their young children.

Mizrachi was laid to rest on Wednesday night, and left behind five young children, the youngest of whom recited Kaddish (the prayer recited by Jewish mourners) as the funeral began.

Baruch Mizachi

Baruch Mizachi

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What about the Grand Mufti’s desire to ‘liquidate the Jews’ doesn’t Robert Fisk understand?

Fisking “Middle East expert” Robert Fisk can be especially challenging, as he often pivots seamlessly between mere distortions and outright fabrications within the same essay.  His latest op-ed at The Independent, The real poison is to be found in Arafat’s legacy, Nov. 18, represents a great example of his talent for such multi-faceted misrepresentations.

fisk

Though he dismisses recent accusations that Arafat was poisoned, Fisk, in attempting to explain the legacy of the late Palestinian leader, whitewashes his decades-long involvement in lethal terrorist attacks against Israelis, and risibly claims that his biggest character flaw was that he was in fact ‘too trusting’ of Israeli leaders.

Fisk writes:

He made so many concessions to Israel – because he was growing old and wanted to go to “Palestine” before he died – that his political descendants are still paying for them. Arafat had never seen a Jewish colony on occupied land when he accepted the Oslo agreement. He trusted the Americans. He trusted the Israelis. He trusted anyone who appeared to say the right things. And it must have been exhausting to start his career as a super-“terrorist” in Beirut and then be greeted on the White House lawn as a super- “statesman” and then re-created by Israel as a super-“terrorist” again.

However, the most egregious lie by omission appears later in the essay when he addresses comments Arafat reportedly made about the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, per a conversation he had with Edward Said:

Edward Said told me that Arafat said to him in 1985 that “if there’s one thing I don’t want to be, it’s to be like Haj Amin. He was always right, and he got nothing and died in exile.”

Hunted by the British, Haj Amin, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, went to Berlin during the Second World War in the hope that Hitler would help the Palestinians.

His claim that the pro-Nazi Haj Amin was merely attempting to “help the Palestinians” represents an extraordinary obfuscation.  

As a CAMERA report (based on documentation in a book by Jennie Lebel titled ‘The Mufti of Jerusalem: Haj-Amin el-Husseini and National-Socialism‘) makes clear, Haj Amin’s desire to ‘help the Palestinians’ was superseded by a greater passion – to annihilate the Jews.

Haj Amin El-Husseini, who was appointed Mufti of Jerusalem in 1921 aided by sympathetic British officials, advocated violent opposition to Jewish settlement in the Mandate for Palestine and incited the Arabs against the growing Jewish presence. Lebel describes the violence of 1929, where Haj Amin spread the story that the Jews planned to destroy the Dome of the Rock and the Aqsa mosque. Using falsified photos of the mosque on fire and disseminating propaganda that borrowed from the anti-Jewish forgery, the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” the mufti instigated a widespread pogrom against Jews in Palestine. On Aug. 23, Arabs streamed into Jerusalem and attacked Jews. Six days later, a second wave of attacks resulted in 64 dead in Hebron

Hebron_massacre_newspaper

The Mufti injected a religiously based anti-Jewish component into the emerging Palestinian national consciousness….Presaging modern boycott proposals against Jewish settlement, Haj Amin called on all Muslims to boycott Jewish goods and organized an Arab strike on April 10, 1936.

He saw in the Nazis and Italian fascists natural allies who would do what the British were unwilling to do — purge the region of Jews and help him establish a unified Arab state throughout the Middle East…Believing that the Axis might prevail in the war, the mufti secured a commitment from both Italy and Germany to the formation of a region-wide Arab state. He also asked for permission to solve the Jewish problem by the “same method that will be applied for the solution of the Jewish problem in the Axis states.” 

On Nov. 28, 1941, he met for the first time with Adolf Hitler, relaying to the German leader the Arab conviction that Germany would win the war and that this would benefit the Arab cause. 
The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husayni, meets Hitler for the first time. Berlin, Germany, November 28, 1941.

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, meets Hitler in Berlin

While Hitler shared the mufti’s belief that the present war would determine the fate of the Arabs, his priority was the struggle against what he saw as Jewish-controlled Britain and the Soviet Union. Lebel reveals Hitler’s promise that when the German army reached the southern borders of the Caucasus, he would announce to the Arab world their time of liberation had come. The Germans would annihilate all Jews who lived in Arab areas.
… 

[Haj Amin's] conspiratorial view of Jewish ambitions are reflected in the widespread dissemination of such publications as “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” in the Arab and Muslim world. The view of the Jews as contaminators of society and malevolent conspirators resonate today in the founding Charter of Hamas.

In a radio broadcast from Germany on Nov. 16, 1943…Haj Amin laid out his vision of the conflict with the Jews:

“The Jews bring the world poverty, trouble and disaster … they destroy morality in all countries… they falsify the words of the prophet, they are the bearers of anarchy and bring suffering to the world. They are like moths who eat away all the good in the countries. They prepared the war machine for Roosevelt and brought disaster to the world. They are monsters and the basis for all evil in the world ….” 

As Nazi official Wilhelm Melchers testified after the war:

The mufti was an accomplished foe of the Jews and did not conceal that he would love to see all of them liquidated.

It’s clear that Haj Amin’s relationship with Hitler was no mere ‘alliance of convenience’, but was based on shared eliminationist antisemitic fantasies.  As Jeffrey Herf wrote in his 2009 book, ‘Nazi Propaganda for the Arab world‘, the Mufti “played a central role in the cultural fusion of European with Islamic traditions of Jew-hatred [and] was one of the few who had mastered the ideological themes and nuances of fascism and Nazism, as well as the anti-Jewish elements within the Koran and its subsequent commentaries.”

Robert Fisk’s innocuous description of Haj Amin as ‘pro-Palestinian’ is as morally perverse as characterizing Adolf Hitler as merely  ‘pro-Aryan’.

The “Jewish community” comes under attack at Amnesty International event

Cross posted by London-based blogger Richard Millett

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The UN’s Hamed Qawasmeh (right) next to the chairperson at Amnesty in London on Monday.

It didn’t take too long for yet another anti-Israel event at Amnesty International to spill over into criticism of Jews. It was Monday night and Hamed Qawasmeh had finished speaking on the subject of Human Rights in Hebron and Area C of the West Bank.  

Qawasmeh is a long time employee of the United Nations and his current remit is to “document human rights violations in the southern West Bank” (apparently human rights violations don’t extend as far as the recent cold-blooded murders of two Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, one in Hebron itself. Neither murder was mentioned during the event).

Qawasmeh described how Israel uses its control of Area C to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians. It does this, he said, by refusing to grant building permits, by demolishing Palestinian homes, by evictions and by building military zones and nature reserves so as to confiscate more land. Then there are the roadblocks, checkpoints and “separation wall”.

He claimed the Israeli government refuses to allow Israeli electricity companies to build electricity pylons for Palestinian homes near Jewish settlements.

Quite magnanimously, Qawasmeh did say that he had no problem with Israel wanting to protect its own people by building the wall, but that the wall should stick to the “1967 border” and not snake into the West Bank.

During the Q&A I stated that “settlements” are not illegal and that the so-called “1967 border” was not a border but merely an armistice line. I also said that when visiting Hebron twice I had seen many palatial Palestinian-owned houses en route.

I had intended to go on to ask how there could be any peace while Palestinian Authority television shows Palestinian children saying they want to become “martyrs” and with the Hamas calling for the murder of Jews via their Charter.  But by then the audience was getting restless and vocal and the chairperson was telling me I had taken up enough time. I tried to persist with my question but it got lost in a noise of insults. Meanwhile, a woman from the audience approached me and held my arm while asking me to leave the room with her.

I slumped back into my chair and stayed silent as the discussion moved onto how Israeli settlers throw stones at Palestinian children on their way to school and how Israel rounds up large numbers of Palestinian “kids” and tortures them under interrogation.

I felt I had to challenge such allegations, upon which Abe Hayeem rose to his feet (you can read all about Hayeem here). Hayeem pointed at me and said:

“He must be removed. He disrupts every meeting. He signifies the sort of people that are in Hebron. And I suggest that your (Qawasmeh’s) presentation should be made to the Jewish community here. The total injustice and criminality of what has happened here doesn’t penetrate him…”

This seemed to be a totally unprovoked attack on “the Jewish community”. But instead of being criticised for such an outburst Qawasmeh assured Hayeem that he gives his presentation to Israelis and also to “Jews who come from the States”.

On leaving the room I was confronted by a young woman who told me that her grandmother, who was a Holocaust survivor, would be ashamed of my behaviour. Someone else told me that she had no problem with Hamas. I was also twice told that my manner was too aggressive and that I was “not helping my own cause”.

Overlooking these shenanigans was Amnesty’s campaigns manager Kristyan Benedict. Benedict once tweeted “Louise Ellman, Robert Halfon and Luciana Berger walk into a bar…each orders a round of B52s … #Gaza”. The three MPs happen to be Jewish. He also once threatened to beat me up after another Amnesty event, again after I had questioned what I had heard.

According to the Jewish Chronicle Benedict was forced to apologise for his tweet and Amnesty said that he would “focus his energy on managing AIUK’s crisis work, particularly the human rights crisis in Syria”. But on Tuesday night he wasn’t focusing on Syria. He was at this disgusting anti-Israel event, albeit not chairing it for once.

Old habits obviously die hard.

The Guardian hosts an Israeli “settler” point-of-view

Cross posted by Yisrael Medad at My Right Word

My good friend Dani Dayan has an op-ed in, of all places, The Guardian.  He had one in the New York Times last July that really upset many left-wing radicals who think freedom of expression is to be limited to their way of thinking formulating politics.

Some extracts and comments from “What you call ‘settlements’ are on solid moral ground”:

…More than 360,000 Israelis live in almost 200 communities across Judea and Samaria, with 200,000 more in East Jerusalem. That’s more than half a million people. Our endeavour stands on solid moral ground.

This week marks 46 years since the agonising days of June 1967, when the Arab world physically tried to annihilate Israel. We defeated them and liberated the strategic hills that overlook 70% of Israel’s population. If partition of this contested land was ever the just solution to the conflict, it ceased the moment one side refused.

I would add, to fine-tune the piece: just as the indigenous Arabs rejected a partition proposal during World War I in the form of the Sykes-Picot arrangement, and as they did in 1937, in 1939 and again in 1947, they undercut their moral standing by being totally uncompromising.

Our communities stand on solid moral ground. Built on vacant land, no settlement stands on the ruins of any Arab village…In Judea and Samaria there is ample room for many Jews, many Palestinians and peaceful coexistence. Our communities stand on solid moral ground because the right of Jews to live in Shiloh, Hebron or Beth El is inalienable. These sites are the cradles of Jewish civilisation, the birthplace of Hebraic culture. Negating the right of Jews to live in these historic parts of the Jewish homeland would be morally wrong.

It is also quite contrary to legal rights Jews hold to their patrimony, recognized over the centuries by all the leading nations and religions and confirmed through the Balfour Declaration, the 1919 Versailles Peace Conference, the 1920 Sam Remo Conference and the 1922 League of Nations.

Unfortunately, too many people view as moral the necessity of the establishment of a Palestinian state and ignore the historic and legal aspects of Jewish national rights in the Land of Israel as well as the history and the character of the conflict over the last 90 years or so.

Moreover, many people, too many, say that Biblical narratives, even if true and confirmed by archaeological science, are irrelevant and I presume they would interpret this reference -“…Shiloh, Hebron or Beth El is inalienable. These sites are the cradles of Jewish civilisation, the birthplace of Hebraic culture” – as a Biblical reference.  But “biblical” does not mean only “religious” or “theological”.  There is an objective truth in the Biblical narrative.

What could be added to this claim is that Jews lived in these areas not only 2000 years ago but throughout the past 2000 years, in every century thereof, and until 1948.

It was the Arabs that practiced ethnic cleansing through terror and depopulated Jewish communities in Gaza, Hebron and Jerusalem’s Old City.  That is not only a strike at our historic right but very much immoral.

Dani concludes:

After 20 years of failed attempts to reach a two-state solution, isn’t it time we admit our failures and move on? The time has come to invest in new, innovative paths to peace that unite people through acts of mutual respect. The first step is to stop the demonisation of our communities and acknowledge that settlements aren’t the problem – but rather an integral part of any future solution.

And we need to formulate a second step.  That would be the idea of retention.  Then we can move on to other intermediate forms of self-rule.  Only then and after a testing period can we even contemplate anything further.

Harriet Sherwood gets it right about settlers and violence

We’ve recently been noticing a slight improvement in the quality of reporting by the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent, Harriet Sherwood – a slight but noticeable movement towards greater balance in her characterization of Israel and Israelis.

  • On Dec 7, we noted that, in a report on Israeli “settlements”, she accurately characterized Israeli disillusionment with the the land for peace logic underlying Oslo, and the general national concern over the rise of radical Islamist parties in the region, and concluded her report by quoting a truly moderate and representative Israeli commentator.
  • On Jan. 7 we observed how Sherwood again devoted considerable space, in a pre-election report which focused on Naftali Bennett, to two moderate Israeli voices who contextualized the support for Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi Party in a clear, fair and balanced manner.
  • And, on April 29, we commended both Sherwood and Phoebe Greenwood for reporting on incitement and indoctrination in Palestinian society.

The latest example of Sherwood’s tentative steps towards objective journalism can be found in a report on May 16, titled ‘Israel to approve four unauthorized West Banks settler posts‘, which focused on Israeli government approval for the construction of 300 homes in the community of Beit El – across the green line, 7.5 km north of Ramallah – in the context of a reported uptick in “settler” violence against Palestinians and their property, which she detailed thusly:

Meanwhile, attacks by settlers on Palestinians and their property have risen since the murder of Eviator Borovzky, 30, in the West Bank just over a fortnight ago.

This week, Muslim graves in the village of Sawiya have been vandalised, wheat fields near the village of Beit Furik have been torched, and 1,200 olive saplings near Akraba have been uprooted, according to Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors settler attacks.

The latest development was the targeting of Palestinian schools, he said. An attempt to set fire to a school in Ein Yabous village was thwarted this week by security guards, and settlers had thrown stones at school buses. “People are really upset and frightened,” he said.

Graffiti was sprayed on the walls of a mosque and several cars were torched in Umm al-Qutuf, an Arab village in Israel near the Green Line, Israel Radio reported. The public security minister, Yitzhak Aharonovich, viewed the attacks with gravity and said police were hunting for those responsible.

  However, then there was this sentence several passages down:

About half a million settlers live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, of whom a tiny minority engage in violent attacks on Palestinians.

We have criticized Sherwood quite often for passages which depict “settlers” – Jews who live on the other side of the 1949 armistice lines - in Hebron and elsewhere in a manner which bears little resemblance to the complex reality of their lives.  So, we are heartened that, with this one simple sentence, she seems to have acknowledged a degree of nuance which challenges the myopic, jaundiced and often bigoted  narrative about Israel and Israelis which so often passes for genuine journalism at the ideological place known as the Guardian Left.

The Guardian: Where Jews are “hardline”, while Hamas tries to ‘rein in extremists’.

In an April 7 post, we asked how many of the roughly 800 Jews currently living in the ancient city of Hebron Harriet Sherwood had spoken to or interviewed.  Our interest in the Guardian Jerusalem correspondent’s familiarity with Hebron’s Jews was piqued by the following sentence in her April 4 report about an outbreak of violence in the West Bank – including in Israelis cities such as Hebron.

After the funeral Palestinian youths threw stones at Israeli soldiers close to an extremist Jewish settlement in the heart of the city. The Israeli military responded with teargas, stun grenades and rubber bullets

We noted that by referring to a community of hundreds of Israelis as “extremists”, Sherwood was lazily imputing widespread fanaticism without evidence – and, more broadly, conveying a message that there’s something radical or extreme about the desire to maintain even a small Jewish presence in Hebron, the oldest Jewish community in the world.

Our April 7 post is relevant in contextualizing Sherwood’s report on today’s terrorist attack in the West Bank – in which a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli man to death, then grabbed his weapon and fired at nearby border police.

Sherwood begins her piece, entitled ‘Israeli security forces deployed in West Bank after settler is stabbed to death‘, April 30, with the following information, which includes a curious reference to the victim’s home town:

Large numbers of Israeli security forces have been deployed in the West Bank after an Israeli settler was stabbed to death by a Palestinian amid fears that the killing could trigger widespread confrontations.

Eviatar Borovzky, 30, a father of five children and a part-time security guard at the hardline settlement of Yitzhar, near Nablus, died of his wounds at the scene of the attack.

Even if the contention that some Jews who live in Yitzhar are “hardline” has merit, it’s unclear what significance the politics of the victim’s home city has in understanding the attack, anymore than the fact that the terrorist suspect is reportedly from a city (Tulkarem) where several deadly terrorist attacks have originated would have relevance.

Sherwood’s report also included the following:

Around the same time [as the attack on Borovzky],an Israeli air strike killed an alleged Palestinian militant in Gaza in the first targeted assassination since the eight-day war last November. The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said Haitham Masshal, 24, had been involved in a recent rocket attack on the Israeli Red Sea resort of Eilat. It described him as a “Global-Jihad-affiliated terrorist” and said he had “acted in different Jihad Salafi terror organisations and over the past few years has been a key terror figure”.

Hamas, the Islamist organisation which controls Gaza, has observed the ceasefire agreement that ended November’s conflict. However, in the past two months there has been renewed intermittent rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, blamed on small extremist organisations that Hamas is trying to rein in.

So, according to Sherwood, Hamas is trying to “rein in” extremism in Gaza.

Briefly:

  • Hamas is recognized as a terrorist movement by the US, EU, Canada, Japan, the U.K., and Australia.
  • Hamas’s founding charter cites the wisdom of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to “prove” that Jews are indeed trying to take over the world.
  • Hamas has carried out hundreds of deadly terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians.
  • Hamas leaders have called for genocide against the Jews.

Regarding the final bullet point, here’s one example: Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior leader and co-founder of Hamas, is seen in this video waxing eloquently (on Al-Aqsa TV in 2010) about the the Jews’ future in the Middle East:

No, there’s clearly nothing “extremist” or “hardline” about that!

The Guardian’s lazy, pejorative characterization of Jews in Hebron

How many of the roughly 800 Jews living in the ancient city of Hebron has Harriet Sherwood interviewed?

My curiosity regarding the Guardian Jerusalem correspondent’s familiarity with Hebron’s Jews was piqued by the following sentence in her April 4 report about recent violence in the West Bank (after “five months of calm“) following the death of convicted Palestinian terrorist Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, titled ‘Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli soldiers in West Bank‘:

After the funeral Palestinian youths threw stones at Israeli soldiers close to an extremist Jewish settlement in the heart of the city. The Israeli military responded with teargas, stun grenades and rubber bullets

Hebron’s Jewish community, which currently includes some “90 families and 200-350 yeshiva students”, is perhaps the oldest Jewish community in the world (dating back to Biblical times) and is designated as the second holiest city in Judaism, containing sites of historical significance such as the Tomb of the Patriarchs.

Jews have lived in Hebron almost continuously throughout the Byzantine, Arab, Mameluke, and Ottoman periods, and it was only in 1929 — as a result of an Arab pogrom in which 67 Jews were murdered and the remainder forced to flee — that the city became temporarily free of Jews.

Under Jordanian control from 1949 to 1967 Jews not only were not allowed to live in Hebron but were barred from entering the Tomb of the Patriarchs, while authorities undertook a systematic campaign to obliterate any evidence of Jewish history in the city.  They “razed the Jewish Quarter, desecrated the Jewish cemetery and built an animal pen on the ruins of the Avraham Avinu synagogue”.

Shortly following Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War, the Jewish community of Hebron was re-established, and today – consistent with the terms of the 1997 Hebron Agreement signed by the Palestinian Authority - is comprised of  two sections – H1 and H2.  H1 is all Palestinian (population apx. 120,000), while the city’s entire Jewish population resides in H2 (a geographical unit which is also home to 30,000 Palestinians).

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Jews in Hebron

Whilst Hebron is of course positioned on the ‘other side’ of the 1949 armistice lines (the green line), characterizing Jews who currently live in Hebron as “settlers” falsely suggests that they are interlopers, colonizing land with which they have no connection.  Worse, referring to a community of hundreds of Israelis as “extremists”, as Sherwood does, imputes widespread fanaticism without even a hint of evidence – conveying a message that there’s something radical or extreme about the desire to maintain even a small Jewish presence in the city.

Moreover, would the Guardian ever countenance such a negative characterization of residents within a Palestinian Arab city – even for places which have generated a large proportion of terrorist acts?

Try sounding these hypothetical sentences out in your head and decide whether they could conceivably ever be published at the Guardian in any context:

In 2002 Israel launched Operation Defensive Shield, which included a large anti-terror operation in the “extremist” Palestinian city of Jenin.

Or, how about this:

A rocket was fired into Israel today from Gaza City, “the extremist Palestinian city“.

Each example cites Palestinian towns where, by any standard, there has been a disproportionate amount of terrorist activity.  Yet, is there any doubt that the Guardian would never, under any circumstances, make such a huge generalization about every inhabitant of these cities?

Whilst it would of course be fair – based on the context and information in a particular story – to refer to specific Jews (or specific Jewish groups) within Hebron or other ‘settlements’ as “extremist” (as Sherwood did in an Aug. 12 report about Jews who physically attacked Palestinians for nationalist motives) stereotyping an entire community of Jews with such a pejorative is inaccurate, illiberal and intellectually lazy. 

What the Guardian didn’t tell you about Palestinian youths arrested in Hebron

On March 20, the Guardian’s ongoing Middle East Live blog included a dispatch titled ‘Children Arrested“.

Here is the complete forty-eight word post – which included a B’Tselem video:

The Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem, has uploaded new footage of appearing to show Israeli soldiers arresting Palestinian children, some as young as eight, in Hebron.

It demanded an emergency intervention by the authorities to secure the release of some of the children it claims are still detained.

Here is the B’Tselem video they showed:

Further, if you open the video in YouTube, and look at B’Tselem’s description, here’s what you’ll read:

B’Tselem this morning urgently contacted the Army’s Legal Advisor for Judea and Samaria, demanding his emergency intervention regarding the detention of numerous children, including some as young as 8 to 10 years old, by the Israeli military this morning in Hebron. Preliminary information received this morning indicates that Soldiers detained or arrested over twenty minors on their way to school. About ten of them were released. The video was filmed by an international activist.

The Guardian reader – as well as those who came across the story on B’Tselem’s YouTube Channel, and at other news sites which reported the story – would be forgiven for believing that Israeli security forces arbitrarily arrested innocent Palestinian children on their way to school.

However, here’s the rest of the story – the full picture which the Guardian will likely never report:

Per IDF Spokesperson Barak Raz:

On the morning of March 20, 2013, following near daily rock throwing at civilians passing by and security forces positioned in the area, the perpetrators of the rock throwing were apprehended and detained during such an incident. 27 were detained, of whom 7 were transferred to the police and 20 were released.

Contrary to reports and footage of children being “arrested on their way to school,” THIS is the complete picture of what really happened and what, in fact, led to that arrest .

As we said that morning, this arrest was carried out in real-time during an incident of rock throwing, and following similar incidents that had occurred almost daily.

Unfortunately, we experienced technical difficulties that morning with retrieving the footage, but we did make it very clear that footage made available from that incident only showed the arrest, and not what had led to it. The fact that we had such footage was also made very clear that morning, despite the claims that were made.

Here’s the video Barak posted:

For those still under the illusion that rock throwing is not a serious matter, recall that  just yesterday, March 30, a 4-year-old boy was wounded when the car he was traveling in was pelted by rocks on Route 60 near Efrat.

On March 14, an Israeli woman and her daughters, ages 3, 4 and 5, were injured after a car accident in the West Bank caused by rocks thrown by Palestinians. The 3-year-old – whose injuries were the most critical – was not breathing when medics arrived at the scene, and had to be resuscitated with a mouth-to-mouth procedure.  The Five Palestinian suspects arrested by Israeli security forces, and who all confessed to the attack, were 16 and 17-year-old youths from Kfar Haras.

On January 16, “an Israeli child was injured when Palestinians heaved a rock through the windshield of the car he was riding in”.

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Child injured in rock attack

In December, 2012, Palestinians threw rocks at a car on Route 505. One of the rocks − which was a full 12 centimeters wide and 19 centimeters long − “shattered the windshield and struck a 12-year-old girl, breaking her skull.”

One of the most serious recent attacks occurred in Sept. of 2011 when Palestinians rock throwers caused a crash which killed Asher Hillel Palmer, 25, and his one-year-old son Yonatan near Kiryat Arba.  

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The wreckage of the car Asher Palmer and his son were traveling in when they were killed in 2011.

The story about the murder of Jonathan and Asher was all but buried by the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent, Harriet Sherwood, who, in a report which focused mainly on another incident, referred to the victims not by their names, but as “a settler and his infant son.”

Israeli security officials have noted an increase in recent months of such attacks against Israeli civilian targets and vehicles.  In 2013 there has already been 1,195 incidents of rock throwing. 

Four out of the six Israelis murdered by Arab rock throwers since 2000 were children. 

What the Guardian didn’t mention about their Palestinian ‘prisoner of the day’

H/T Al-Gharqad

While we often post in response to Israel related news stories and commentary at the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’ which are biased, misleading or inaccurate in some manner, often a Guardian ‘photo of the day’ can similarly serve as a vehicle for propaganda due to the emotive strength of the image, along with a paucity of relevant context.

The following was included in the Feb. 11th edition of the Guardian’s ‘Best Photos of the Day’.

Mideast Israel Palestinians

Here’s the Guardian caption:

Palestinian women hold pictures of prisoners jailed in Israel during a rally calling for their release in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Photograph: Nasser Shiyoukhi/AP

Now, here’s what a Guardian reader casually glancing at the Palestinian “prisoner” wouldn’t have known.

A friend who’s fluent in Arabic read the poster and identified the ‘prisoner’ as Ayman Ismail Al-Sharawna. 

Al-Sharawna was jailed in Israel because of his involvement in a terrorist attack in in May 2002, in which two Palestinians placed an explosive device near a group of civilians in Beersheba and fled the scene. Eighteen Israelis were injured in the attack. (A technical fault prevented the bomb from exploding fully.)

He was sentenced to 38 years in prison, but released on October 18, 2011 as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal.

On January 31, 2012, the IDF re-arrested Al-Sharawna, resident of a Palestinian town near Hebron, on suspicion of having returned to terror planning with a Hamas cell in the West Bank.  He recently began a hunger strike.

Al-Sharawna is a “prisoner” because he tried to murder innocent Israelis, and, after his release, is evidently determined to try to murder again.

49 words: A “toy gun”, a Palestinian teen and a classic Guardian obfuscation

Harriet Sherwood’s Dec. 13 report, Hamas rallies in Fatah-dominated West Bank suggests growing Palestinian unity, included this passing reference to an incident in Hebron last week.

In Hebron, clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers erupted at the funeral of a teenager who was shot dead at a checkpoint on Wednesday. The Israel defence forces said a female soldier had killed Muhammad Ziad Awad Salaymah, whose 17th birthday it was, after he waved a toy gun. [emphasis added]

First, the Arab assailant did much more than “wave” a toy gun at the IDF.  He reportedly pointed a quite realistic looking weapon (at night) at an IDF Border Patrol Officer, pressing it to his throat and further attacked IDF officers, throwing punches and grappling with one officer.

Here’s an IDF security video of the incident. 

By the way, here’s the toy gun.

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As Captain Barak Raz, of the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, noted:

“Ask yourselves how you would react if this was pressed against your partner.”

Moreover, Sherwood’s passage about the incident, like so much reporting about Israel at the Guardian, is revealing in what information is included, the specific words used to characterize events and – just as importantly – what is left out:

  • Sherwood didn’t deem it important to note the gun (later discovered to be fake) in the context of the suspect’s unprovoked assault on the Israeli officer.
  • Sherwood didn’t deem it important to note that the gun likely looked quite real at the time (especially considering it was in the evening).
  • Sherwood deceptively characterized the suspect as having merely “waved” a “toy gun” at the Israeli officer, designed, presumably to downplay the presumed danger to the Israeli officer who had what appeared to be a real weapon reportedly pressed to his throat.
  • Sherwood evidently deemed it important in the context of the story to note that the Arab suspect was celebrating his 17th birthday.

Sherwood’s passage about the incident in Hebron only had 49 words, but so much deception.