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.

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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

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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.

One kick: The Guardian’s 37 seconds in Hebron.

The original video of an incident in Hebron involving an Israeli Border Policeman and a Palestinian youth, posted on YouTube by B’Tselem on June 29, lasts 2 minutes.

The video, shot through a gap in a building overlooking the Hebron street where the policeman was patrolling, hovers over the same small area for 1 minute and 16 seconds before the incident took place.

The videographer was lying in wait.

At the 1:16 mark, we see a Palestinian child walk by at the same location. A couple of seconds later the policeman (who was evidently a few meters away) rushes to the scene and grabs the Palestinian in a manner suggesting that the child was apprehended following an incident, the details of which we weren’t privy to.

At the 1:34 mark, another policeman approaches and gives the Palestinian a swift, mild kick. The child is then released, and is seen rushing off.

On July 3, the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood published a story about the incident, titled “Caught on video: Israeli policeman kicking Palestinian boy“. However, Sherwood’s video is edited so that the viewer only sees 37 seconds of the 2 minute tape. It begins at the point where the boy enters the scene.    

Sherwood noted that such Israelis are patrolling Hebron to protect “hardline settlers”.  She contextualized the kick by citing a “report published last week by a group of eminent British lawyers [funded by the UK Foreign Office] that concluded Israel had breached international law in its treatment of Palestinian children in military custody.”

Oh, and I almost neglected to note that the Israeli Border Police have opened an investigation into the incident and will publish their findings soon.

On August 31, 2010, four Israelis, including a married couple, were murdered in their vehicle in a Hamas terrorist drive-by shooting attack on Route 60 east of Hebron. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told Ynet the attack was proof that “the Palestinian resistance is living, breathing, and kicking“. [emphasis added]

Harriet Sherwood’s report on the Hamas terrorist attack focused almost entirely on fear that the “incident…could jeopardise vital peace talks”.

There was no video of the attack which claimed the lives of Yitzhak Ames, Talya Ames, Avishai Shindler, and Kochava Chaim.

However, the following photo of Palestinians celebrating the successful “operation” near Hebron was posted around the web.

As far as I can determine, there has been no report funded by the UK Foreign Office on such terror attacks as violations of international human rights law. 

Oh, and I almost neglected to note that there was no Palestinian investigation into the murder of four Jews near Hebron.

Hebron’s Hardline Jewish Settlers! A Harriet Sherwood production

Harriet Sherwood’s story on April 4, Israel evicts settlers from Hebron house, reported on the forced removal, by Israeli security personnel, of a Jewish family from a house in Hebron yesterday – a home they claimed to have purchased legally. (According to Israeli authorities, the family had failed to obtain the required permit to purchase property.)  

Sherwood’s report included these lines:

Israeli security forces have evicted a group of hardline settlers from a Palestinian house in Hebron,

About 500 hardline settlers live in a closed military zone in the heart of Hebron, protected by a large military presence.

Sherwood’s previous report, on April 3, prior to the eviction, included this headline:

That report included this:

The Israeli prime minister has intervened to prevent the eviction of hardline Jewish settlers from a house in the tense West Bank city of Hebron…

What is a “hardline settler”?

Well, in the context of Hebron it refers to Jews who live in perhaps the oldest Jewish community in the world, which dates back to Biblical times – 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 were forced to flee — that the city became temporarily “free” of Jews.

Under Jordanian control from 1949 to 1967 Jews were not allowed to enter the Tomb of the Patriarchs, and authorities undertook a systematic campaign to obliterate evidence of the 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.

After the 1967 Six-Day War, the Jewish community of Hebron was re-established, and today the city has approximately 500 Jews (who live there consistent with the terms of the Oslo accords accepted by the PA) and 150,000 Arab residents.

Calling Jews currently living or wishing to live in Hebron “settlers” necessarily implies that they are colonizing land with which they have no connection.

Worse, referring to such Israelis as “hardline settlers”, as Sherwood does, suggests that there’s something radical or extreme about the desire not to keep the city completely free of Jews. 

Hardline Jewish settler boy in Hebron on Purim

Such characterizations demonstrate either intellectually laziness or – more likely – ideologically-inspired, completely ahistorical, propaganda. 

Jonathan Freedland to Israel: I love you, I love you not.

It seems to be happening a lot lately: publicly known figures telling us how much they ‘love’ Israel and insisting that they are its ‘friend’ before launching into some kind of attack on this or that aspect of Israel. So I suppose it’s time to talk about love.

The kind of love for Israel which Jonathan Freedland professes in his JC article of November 7th is better known as infatuation. Like many a starry-eyed young lover, having just discovered that the object of his affections snores and leaves wet towels on the floor, he now feels betrayed. Israel is not the perfect being he put on a pedestal and so his affection becomes conditional; either she lives up to his ideals or it will be her fault that he can’t love her any longer.

That, of course, is not love. Genuine love is capable of accepting the faults of the loved one as part of the whole package but recognising the merits too. Just as our partners and children sometimes disappoint or annoy us with their flaws, so does Israel, but we do not stop loving them because of that. And we do not lay down pre-conditions for our love.

The Israeli people know full well that their country – like any other – is far from perfect, as do Israel’s many friends within the British Jewish community. But apparently unlike Freedland, both these groups understand that despite its flaws, Israel represents a tremendous achievement.  Increasingly and uniquely that achievement has its very existence called into question.

Freedland’s attempt to equate the external threat represented by delegitimisation of Israel’s basic existence with its internal faults and failures is at best disingenuous and possibly even a form of delegitimisation in itself due to its selective highlighting and amplification.

In his dramatic description of a visit to Hebron, Freedland fails to mention the town’s complex history including the expulsion of its ancient Jewish population, the fact that Israelis living there today do so under the terms of the Oslo accords accepted by the PA or the numerous attacks on Israeli civilians there which have made ugly and regrettable security measures necessary in order to protect lives. Freedland completely exonerates by omission one side of the dispute; his opprobrium is reserved exclusively for the object of his disappointed infatuation.

Moving on to Mea Sharim, again Freedland neglects to paint the whole picture, failing to state that the Israeli High Court has emphatically ruled against sex segregation (reflecting majority opinion in broader Israeli society) or to mention the sterling work of Jerusalem council members in combatting this aberration.  Equally disingenuously, Freedland presents one of the hundreds of proposals placed annually for debate on the Knesset table as though it were evidence of the demise of Israeli democracy.

Like any democracy, Israel has its fair share of healthy wrangles between different sections of society, each with its own interests. Rather than heralding its demise, there is much to celebrate about the fact that truly multi-cultural Israel is confident enough in its robust democracy to allow all kinds voices to be heard – even those the majority find unacceptable.

By presenting a selectively edited cameo of what he sees as Israel’s unlovable traits and conditionalising his love and friendship upon their removal, Freedland displays profound disrespect for the very democracy he claims to uphold and trivialises the many complex realities the Israeli people who make up that democracy face.

Even more worrying is his employment of linkage between perceived faults in Israeli society and Israel’s very existence – a tactic frequently used by the very worst assailants on Israel’s legitimacy and one which no other country, however undemocratic, has to tolerate.

Such conditionality chauvinistically reduces Israel to the status of dumb trophy wife.

That’s a version of ‘love’ best avoided by its object.

The Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland, Hebron and the logic of ethnic cleansing

Writing for The JC, under the heading, “This is Israel? Not the one I love“, Jonathan Freedland abandoned his usual relatively mild tone reserved for the ‘Organ of British Jewry’, and launched into a vitriolic, Guardian-style attack on the situation in Hebron today – Judaism’s second holiest place – not from the Jewish or Israeli perspective, but only through the prism of the Palestinians, the evidently rightful inhabitants of the city.

“What I saw would shock those who think they know it all” he opined (using a mini-headline in red for added emphasis), to prepare us for the worst.

So what was the the shocking scene he described?  Could it be that Israelis were hurling rocks at their Palestinian neighbours, using them as target practice in drive-by shootings, breaking into Palestinian homes to lynch their children while they sleep, etc.?

No. It was that the centre of Hebron (he coyly omits to say how much) “…has been utterly emptied, its streets deserted, its shops vacant, thanks to a policy the Israeli army calls ‘sterilisation’–ensuring the area is clear and safe for Hebron’s 800 settlers”.

He goes on to lament that “in what was once a throbbing market district…..successive restrictions have been placed on Hebron’s Palestinian population”, such as roads where they are not allowed drive or “even walk”.

Added to that, horror of horrors, the graffiti daubed on shuttered shops by the ‘settlers’, and, perhaps the most shocking of all, Stars of David used to “spit in the eye of a population hounded out of their homes”. Not nice, but not life threatening.

He then invoked the wisdom of Shaul, his “kippah- wearing army reservist guide” from the NGO Breaking the Silence, (anti-Israel activists generously funded by the EU who have been criticized by Israeli police for “antagoniz[ing]…settlers [in Hebron] in the hope that the settlers will attack them.”), who conducts tours for Anglo Jewish Zionist youth leaders, and “believes that Hebron…reveals the reality of the occupation in an intense, distilled form”.

Of course, the devil is in the detail, and what Freedland omits is not mere details but, rather, essential facts, omitted  because they would expose his damning accusations for what they are.

So here  they are :

Abraham resided in Hebron when he arrived in Canaan, King David was annointed there, and Jews have lived there almost continuously throughout the Byzantine, Arab, Mameluke and Ottoman periods.

It was only in 1929, long before the creation of Israel and the “occupation”, that the city became Judenrein, following a murderous Arab pogrom in which 67 Jews were murdered, and the rest forced to flee.

After 1948, during the Jordanian occupation of the West Bank which followed Israel’s War of Independence, Jews were forbidden to live in Hebron, and, despite the terms of the Armistice Agreement, forbidden from visiting the city to pray at the Jewish holy sites there – namely, the Cave of Machpelah, burial place of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rebecca and leah, the world’s most ancient Jewish site.

Even though Israel controls Hebron today, the Islamic Waqf controls the holy sites, and Jews have access to Ohel Yitzchak only 10 days a year, and visits are severely restricted to the other rooms.

It should be noted that the Jordanians together with local residents,  between 1948 and 1967, undertook a systematic campaign to obliterate evidence of the Jewish history of Hebron.  They razed the Jewish Quarter, desecrated the Jewish cemetery and built an animal pen on the ruins of Avraham Avinu synagogue.

Hebron was first called Kiryat Arba, mentioned in the bible, and today is a Jewish suburb of Hebron, the first re-established Jewish community in Judea and Samaria after the Six Day War, with some 6,000 Jews.

Today,  80% of Hebron is under the control of the Palestinian Authority.

What Freedland wilfully ignores is that without the protection of the IDF the Jewish inhabitants would be in grave danger of violent attacks from the Arab majority.

For Freedland, Jews are always the “illegal settlers”, even in cities where they’ve lived for thousands of  years.

Well done Jonathan—-your job at the Guardian is safe for a while—-your minders there will be delighted with this latest effort…you have proved yourself!

Harriet Sherwood‘s economies of truth

Back in Jerusalem after her Christmas holidays, Harriet Sherwood continues to be in fine form when it comes to being economical with both truth and facts. In her January 7th article she focuses upon the accidental killing of a Palestinian man during an operation to capture his nephew and four other Hamas terrorists.

“An IDF statement said it happened during an operation to arrest five Hamas militants who were released from a Palestinian prison yesterday. “A Palestinian man who was present in one of the terrorists’ homes was killed,” the statement said. “The IDF regrets the outcome of the incident.” Its investigation would present its conclusions “as early as next week”.”

Of course, in accordance with Guardian protocols, Sherwood cannot bring herself to use the word “terrorists”, so we get the euphemistic term “militants” instead – a word more evocative of striking miners than people who murder civilians in cold blood.

Predictably, Sherwood makes no reference to the fact that Wael Bitar – the dead man’s nephew – was in the Palestinian prison mentioned (in her passage cited above) due to his alleged role in the murders of Yitzhak and Talya Imes,Kochava Even-Chaim and Avishai Shindler on August 31st 2010, or the connection of some of the captured men to the Dimona suicide bombingin 2008.

Neither does she elaborate on the circumstances of the release of these five Hamas terrorists; no mention of the fact that it came not because of the outcome of a trial or because they had completed a prison sentence, but as a result of pressure applied on Mahmoud Abbas by various parties, including the emir of Qatar and the leader of the Islamic Movement in Um el Fahm –Raed Salah.

A conscientious journalist might have explained to readers that this is just the latest incident under Mahmoud Abbas’ ‘revolving door’ policy of arresting terrorists involved in attacks on Israeli civilians and then releasing them when the outcry has died down.  In fact, the Palestinian Authority admits that it only incarcerates Hamas terrorists in order to keep them safe from arrest by Israel.

“Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said that the Hamas men were kept in a PA prison so that they wouldn’t be arrested by the IDF.”

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