What the Guardian won’t report: Israel’s thriving, liberal democracy

Our friends at CAMERA wrote the following, in a post titled ‘Where’s the coverage? Israel the Only Free Country in the Middle East, Jan. 23, the day after yet another free and fair Israeli election.

Maybe they were too busy bemoaning the state of Israel’s democracy to do any actual reporting, but the mainstream news media [as well as the Guardian] completely ignored a report by Freedom House, an independent watchdog group dedicated to the expansion of freedom around the world, that rated Israel as the only free country in the Middle East.

As we noted in a post on Jan. 22, predictions by Guardian journalists, analysts and commentators that Israel’s democracy was in decline – and that the Jewish state was lurching towards an extreme right political abyss – were proven wildly inaccurate.

CAMERA continues:

In the 2013 edition of its annual report, “Freedom in the World,” the organization wrote: “Israel remains the region’s only Free country. In recent years, controversies have surrounded proposed laws that threatened freedom of expression and the rights of civil society organizations. In most cases, however, these measures have either been quashed by the government or parliament, or struck down by the Supreme Court.”

In other words, Israel’s democracy works. By contrast, both Gaza, under Hamas, and the West Bank, under the Palestinian Authority were rated “Not Free,” as was Jordan. Lebanon and Egypt ranked as merely “Partly Free.”

To look at a map of world freedom, click on this link. You’ll have to enlarge it quite a bit to see the sliver of green freedom that is Israel in the sea of yellow (“partly free”) and purple (“not free”) that is the Middle East and North Africa.

Here’s a snapshot of the Freedom House political freedom map, with a red arrow pointing to the sliver of democracy in the Middle East.

freedom

CAMERA adds:

Given the hyper-focus on Israel by the press, one might expect news outlets to at least mention this positive evaluation of the Jewish State. However, although Israeli and Jewish outlets reported the Freedom House study, CAMERA could not locate any mainstream news media that covered it. More embarrassing still, even Egypt’s Daily News wrote: “Egypt is now one of six countries in the Middle East that is classified by Freedom House as “partly free”. Eleven are classed as “not free”, while Israel is the region’s only “free” country.

A newspaper in a country that has only recently been upgraded to “partly free” covered Israel’s “free” ranking but news outlets in “free” countries did not.

One has to ask, why the hesitancy to report something positive about Israel’s democracy? 

While there are many factors which explain why the Guardian ignores evidence of Israel’s clear democratic advantages in the region, one of the most central is the ideological orientation of the Guardian Left which typically reduces complicated political phenomena down to a binary David vs. Goliath paradigm.

Such framing nurtures coverage of the region which routinely characterizes Israeli leaders, even in the context of fair and free democratic elections, as extremely “right-wing”, while avoiding such pejorative depictions of even the most reactionary Palestinian leaders.  

Indeed, as Simon Plosker observed, such a political orientation inspired the Guardian to describe Mahmoud Abbas, in one editorial, as the “most moderate Palestinian leader”.  Abbas is similarly framed as a “moderate” by Guardian journalists and CiF commentators despite the fact that the Palestinian President is currently serving the 8th year of a 4 year term, has engaged in Holocaust denial, and leads a government which promotes martyrdom and antisemitic incitement, and severely oppresses women, gays, religious minorities, critical Palestinian journalists and political opponents.  

Further, it simply strains credulity to imagine that a new independent Palestinian Arab state in the West Bank would be truly democratic, any more liberal, or nominally respect the human rights of its citizens. 

However, as long as Israeli politics are myopically viewed through the ideologically skewed filter of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, even the most intuitive evidence regarding the extreme right political center of gravity within Palestinian society on one hand, and the Jewish state’s liberal, democratic advantages on the other, will continue to be downplayed or ignored.

Guardian fails to take home top prize at 2012 Dishonest Reporting Awards

It just wasn’t their year.

Oh, how they tried to repeat the performance which earned them the 2011 HonestReporting Dishonest Reporting Award‘, but it simply wasn’t to be.

Though the Guardian failed to take home the top prize this year, they did receive less high-profile awards for their denial of reality itself (Biggest Train Wreck Over Principle: The Guardian, and UK Press Complaints Commission) by telling readers that Tel Aviv was Israel’s capital, as well one for most antisemitic cartoon (Most Anti-Semitic-Themed Cartoon: Steve Bell, The Guardian) for a depiction of feckless, slavish British leaders being controlled like a puppet by Israel’s Prime Minister.

While this year’s winner, Haaretz’s Gideon Levy, indeed deserves credit for a very compelling polemical performance in attempting to convince readers that Israelis support apartheid, the Guardian’s body of deceit for the year was, at least in the eyes of this blogger,  impressive nonetheless.

The Guardian’s editor, Alan Rusbridger, interviewed after being informed by HonestReporting’s judges that their media group lost the coveted award, said the following:

“Though it’s rare for a media institution to take home two Dishonest Reporting prizes in a row, we really thought our overall anti-Israel bias was the most effective in a very crowded anti-Zionist field, and should have won.  In addition to elevating Tel Aviv to the status of Israel’s capital, and publishing a cartoon indistinguishable from what’s found in the most Judeophobic Arab media, I’m also quite proud of the work done by Chris McGreal, whose characterization of the US relationship with Israel as ‘slave-like’ earned him a coveted spot in CST’s 2011 Report on Antisemitic Discourse. 

And, naturally, we thought that the buzz over Deborah Orr’s pejorative reference to Jews as ‘The Chosen People’ would also get the judges attention. 

Overall we had a great year of obsessively dishonest reporting about Jews and Israel and, while we congratulate Gideon Levy for his simply sublime smear of the Jewish state, we respectfully believe that the award academy overlooked our overall body of work. After all, we literally wrote the book on how to avoid reporting fairly about Israel and making antisemitism respectable among the liberal elite.”

academy

Rusbridger and Levy react to Dishonest Reporting Award announcement

Does the Guardian own a map? Op-Ed falsely claims E-1 would cut West Bank in two

On December 3, we demonstrated that Harriet Sherwood’s allegation that proposed Israeli construction in the area of land (known as E-1) between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim would cut off eastern Jerusalem from the West Bank is simply untrue.

Sherwood wrote:

“The development of [land east of Jerusalem known as] E1 has been frozen for years under pressure from the US and EU. Western diplomats regard it as a “game-changer” as its development would close off East Jerusalem – the future capital of Palestine – from the West Bank.” [emphasis added]

As CAMERA noted:

[It is not true that] construction [in E-1] would cut off Palestinian areas from Jerusalem. Access to Jerusalem through Abu Dis, Eizariya, Hizma and Anata is not prevented by the proposed neighborhood, nor would it be precluded by a string of neighborhoods connecting Ma’aleh Adumim to Jerusalem.

In an official editorial today, Dec. 4, ‘Israel-Palestine: Concreting over the solution‘, the Guardian repeats Sherwood’s erroneous claim that the E-1  construction “would sever the Palestinian state from its capital in East Jerusalem” and takes the false charge even further, arguing thus:

“Having spun the line that European governments had misunderstood Israels plan to create a settlement that would cut the West Bank in two and separate it from East Jerusalem, the prime minister’s office vowed that nothing would alter their decision.” [emphasis added]

The Guardian was under no obligation to consult Israel before making allegations that the proposed construction would cut the West Bank in two, but when making a specific geographical claim it does seem reasonable that (as “journalists”) they consult a map which could empirically prove or disprove their assertion.

So, would construction connecting Jerusalem to  Ma’aleh Adumim cut the West Bank in two:

No.

Here’s a map created by HonestReporting completely disproving the Guardian’s allegation:

westBank-E1

As HR observed:

“The Palestinian waistline — between Ma’ale Adumim and the Dead Sea, is roughly 15 km wide. That’s a corridor no different than the Israeli waistline. Indeed, that has never caused a problem of Israeli territorial contiguity.”

We will be in contact with Guardian readers’ editor Chris Elliott over this egregious error, and we suggest that you consider doing the same.

reader@guardian.co.uk

Righting the Guardian’s capital offense, and standing up for Israel

This essay was written by Simon Plosker (managing editor of HonestReporting) and published in the Jerusalem Post on August 12.

When HonestReporting filed a complaint with the UK’s Press Complaints Commission in response to The Guardian’s labeling of Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital, we did so expecting accuracy and common sense to prevail.

Outrageously, the PCC not only ruled in favor of The Guardian but actually went as far as to unilaterally declare that Tel Aviv was Israel’s legitimate capital, based mainly on the fact that many foreign embassies are located there.

Institutions not located in Tel Aviv include the Knesset, the Supreme Court, Bank of Israel and most government ministries.

The ruling even ignored Israel’s own declaration of Jerusalem as its eternal capital.

While the Guardian’s original “capital offense” could be viewed as yet another example of the newspaper’s animosity towards Israel, the PCC ruling demonstrated just how far beyond rational discourse any discussion on Israel appears to have gone in the UK.

The PCC offered no recourse for appeal.

On principle, however, we couldn’t let the PCC’s bizarre ruling stand. Risking potentially high legal costs but motivated by our desire to see truth prevail, HonestReporting initiated legal proceedings using some of the best legal professionals with the aim of taking the PCC all the way to a judicial review.

The Guardian has become the world’s third most read newspaper website, with 30.4 million readers in June 2012, according to industry analyst ComScore. The newspaper’s print edition may not be particularly large by UK media standards, but its readers are typically influential liberal and left-leaning elites in politics, academia and other media such as the BBC.

Put simply, the Guardian’s anti-Israel bias has a hugely significant reach and influence that cannot be ignored.

Read the rest of the essay, here.

Continuing CiF Watch coverage of the Guardian’s ‘Capital’ humiliation: Headlines

As we reported yesterday (here and here), the Guardian, in a rare nod to reality, surrendered and acknowledged that Tel Aviv is NOT Israel’s capital. (See HonestReporting’s account here.)

Here’s their correction:

“A correction to a picture caption said we should not have described Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. It went on to relay the advice in our style guide that the capital was Tel Aviv. In 1980 the Israeli Knesset enacted a law designating the city of Jerusalem, including East Jerusalem, as the country’s capital. In response, the UN security council issued resolution 478, censuring the “change in character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem” and calling on all member states with diplomatic missions in the city to withdraw. The UN has reaffirmed this position on several occasions, and almost every country now has its embassy in Tel Aviv. While it was therefore right to issue a correction to make clear Israel’s designation of Jerusalem as its capital is not recognised by the international community, we accept that it is wrong to state that Tel Aviv – the country’s financial and diplomatic centre – is the capital. The style guide has been amended accordingly (Corrections and Clarifications, 23 April, page 27).”

Here’s the Guardian Style Guide on Jerusalem before the change:

And, now:

So, in a blatant attempt to enjoy the Guardian’s humiliation (I must find a synonym for the word ‘Schadenfreude’) here’s a quick run down of a few of the stories (and accompanying headlines) about the Guardian’s submission.

Guido Fawkes:

Times of Israel

Jerusalem Post

 

JTA

The Jewish Chronicle

The Jewish Daily Forward

Jewish News 1

Jewish News One’s video on the Guardian correction:

Click image to go to video

Jspace

HonestReporting’s graphic accompanying their victory over the Guardian:

However, here’s a Guardian ‘correction’ from April, which AKUS commented on:

It looks like the Guardian’s ‘Corrections and clarifications column editor’ has some work to do.

I’d suggest contacting the Guardian’s Readers’ Editor and request that the April ‘clarification’ be corrected.

reader@guardian.co.uk

Also, Leslie Palmer is the Guardian’s ‘Corrections and Clarifications’ Editor.

leslie.palmer@guardian.co.uk

Finally, it looks like the following book will have to be revised for 2012.

The Guardian retracts lie that Tel Aviv is Israel’s capital!

The following is a press release from HonestReporting:

The Guardian has retracted its claim that Tel Aviv is the capital of Israel, writing unequivocally on Wednesday, “we accept that it is wrong to state that Tel Aviv – the country’s financial and diplomatic centre – is the capital.”

The Guardian’s concession follows a threat of judicial review against the UK’s Press Complaints Commission by HonestReporting (advised by UK solicitors Asserson Law Offices).

The PCC, a regulatory body that ensures accuracy in the UK media initially ruled that The Guardian’s claim was correct. HonestReporting, along with noted UK lawyer Trevor Asserson, then took initial steps to file for a judicial review of the decision, forcing the PCC to withdraw its ruling and demand that The Guardian defend its position.

In response to HonestReporting’s pressure on the PCC, The Guardian backed down from its claim, issuing a correction. It also changed its style guide, which had stated that Tel Aviv is the capital of Israel, to reflect the correction.

Although The Guardian has been forced to withdraw its absurd suggestion regarding the status of Tel Aviv, the wording of The Guardian’s correction has not been agreed after the newspaper unilaterally terminated its negotiations with HonestReporting and the PCC.

HonestReporting still awaits a new ruling from the PCC to replace the faulty decision it issued in May and agreed to reconsider in July.

Here’s the Guardian’s correction:

Here’s a more detailed account by HonestReporting.

CiF Watch will provide more commentary on the Guardian’s stunning mea culpa later in the day.

The Guardian & BBC, and a tall tale regarding a Palestinian ‘switched at birth’ in Gaza

Guardian journalists reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict at times seem to casually accept Palestinian claims at face value and often fail to perform even rudimentary research on the argument being advanced.  

For example Harriet Sherwood, in a May 30th 2011 report about the abandoned Arab village of Lifta – located at the western entrance to Jerusalem – uncritically accepted the claims of a former Lifta resident named Yacoub Odeh that the Israeli Knesset, Supreme Court, and Hebrew University were built on Lifta’s former farmlands.  

However, as CAMERA noted, in response to an LA Times story which parroted the same claims about Lifta:

“According to the Jerusalem municipality, none of those institutions are built on land formerly belonging to Lifta. Elie Isaacson, the spokesman for the municipality, noted that the Knesset’s land is leased from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. As for the Hebrew University and the Supreme Court, they sit on land that once was part of the Arab village of Sheikh Badr, not Lifta.”

“…a phone call to Israel Kimhi of the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, and a foremost expert on the city of Jerusalem, confirmed that Lifta’s boundaries did not extend that far south. He consulted a British Mandate era map and found that Lifta’s boundaries only went as far south as Jaffa Street…”

The Guardian never corrected the story.

Sherwood’s failure to corroborate Odeh’s tale came to mind when I read Elder of Ziyon’s recent post about a CBC radio program concerning Ahmed Masoud; a British writer and playwright who was born in Gaza.  During the program, according to the EoZ reader who drew attention to it , Masoud told a story that he had previously written for The Guardian last year:

Masoud wrote the following:

“I had a very happy childhood in a very large family, with five sisters and six brothers. I’m right in the middle, which is a good place to be. But we lived in one of the worst places on Earth – the Gaza Strip in Palestine – and when I was six, in 1987, the first intifada started. 

…Despite everything going on outside I had a happy childhood. But all this changed when I was 17.

One day I came home from school and turned on the TV. There was a programme about Palestinian refugees and how their families were fragmented because of the troubles, and it talked about how children and babies were mixed up in hospitals.

I looked at my mother and she was electrified – her mouth was open, her eyes were staring and she looked like a ghost. I knew there was something she wasn’t telling me. My dad, too, was staring at the screen. I could see that behind his glasses there was a tear coming down. I hadn’t seen my dad cry before, and to see his tears falling down his cheek was terrifying to me.

Then he wiped his eyes and held my hand, and my mum’s hand, and he started telling the story about what happened when I was born.

At the time, the hospital was being raided and I was evacuated to a special care unit before my mum had even seen me. My dad heard news that the hospital was being bombed and went straight there. When he arrived he was told the room and cot number where he could find me. He ran as fast as he could, but when he got there, he found not one but two babies in the cot. He didn’t know which one was his – the one on the left or the one on the right. There was no time to make a decision. He had to take one. He wondered whether the number they had given him was a mistake, but when he looked around all the other cots were crammed with babies too. And he had to make that decision. So he picked me up. Even now, if you ask him, he can’t answer why he picked me and not the other baby.

He went back to my mum and she wrapped me up, and they ran with me through the streets back home. He didn’t say anything to her until they got home. My mum just put me to her breast and began to feed me. That bond, that love, that motherly feeling was there. The more she looked at me and fed me, the more she was sure I was her son.”

An incredible tale, isn’t it?

Well, Elder thought so too, and you can click here to see him expertly fisk the story, representing a good example of journalistic fact-checking which Guardian editors evidently deemed unimportant.  

6 Secrets of Media Objectivity: What are the principles of fair news coverage?

The following was produced by HonestReporting, and is posted at CiF Watch with their expressed permission.

U.N Rep Khulood Badawi caught in a blatant lie about Israel: Refuses to apologize

Khulood Badawi is a UN representative and a partisan activist who published a picture of a child who was killed in an accident in 2006 as “another child killed by #Israel…another father carrying his child to a grave” during the latest escalation between Gaza and Israel.

She and other retweeters at the UN were informed of the mistake on the same day.

It took her 8 days to make a “correction” of sorts while stating that these were her personal views and not related to her work. This puts Badawi in violation of articles 100 & 101 of the UN charter (objectivity and non-partisanship of UN employees).

And, she still has not apologized for making a “mistake”.

People to contact:

Richard Miron: Chief Public Information Officer – mironr@un.org
Ramesh Rajasingham: Head OCHA – rajasingham@un.org

Or sign a petition here: http://t.co/jlrI4b8z

EXPOSED: UN Media Official Responsible for False Photo Tweet

Written by Simon Plosker at HonestReporting

Our guest post from the IDF revealed how a photo, allegedly depicting the results of Israeli air strikes in Gaza in recent days, have been proven false.

The offending photo was originally tweeted by Khulood Badawi.

(Read Top Tweet on Gaza Proven False for the full story on how this photo was exposed.)

Khulood Badawi happens to work for the OCHA – the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs where, according to a UN Contact List, she works as an Information and Media Coordinator.

A Google search reveals that Badawi has a history of activism in a range of pro-Palestinian non-governmental organizations, some of them radical and politicized. While this background may not in itself disqualify her from a career with the UN, it is absolutely unacceptable that a UN employee working specifically on dissemination of information to the media and public tweets malicious and false information to libel Israel.

HonestReporting’s CEO Joe Hyams comments:

Once again, we are bearing witness to the extent that organizations such as the United Nations have failed to vet the integrity of their employees. The disgusting actions of this individual – invoking the imagery of a dead child to slander Israel – exposes once more the abject failure of NGOs to ensure a basic work ethic and commitment to fair and impartial conduct on the part of its employees.

The halo-effect enjoyed by the UN, where the public trusts the integrity of its staff and its Mission, demands higher professional standards than we are seeing. The UN owes the public, no less than this young girl’s family, an apology. The immediate dismissal of Khulood Badawi on the grounds of incitement is expected.

Powerful images such as these have a deep impact on public opinion. Where Israel is trying desperately to defend more than 1 million of its civilians from the incessant murderous rain of Gazan rocket terror – it is abhorrent that a UN employee working for a body concerned with humanitarian welfare would have more concern for manipulating public sentiment than a true desire to protect innocent human life. Badawi cares more for the lie, than for life.

Call on the UN to take the appropriate action by contacting Badawi’s immediate superior at the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs – Allegra Pacheco – pacheco6@un.org

This appalling breach of integrity on the part of a UN employee deserves to be widely exposed. Please consider clicking +1, Tweet, Like or linking to this article on your blog or website. Getting the UN to take note is only effective when this article reaches a large readership, especially through the Google search engine. Creating a link to this page with the text “UN Employee Exposed Over False Photo Tweet” helps this article reach the first page search results for the term.

CiF Watch Gossip of the Day: Harriet Sherwood “Head Spinning” Edition

Via a highly reliable source, there was a truly quality moment at the 2012 Herzliya Conference todayat the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) – as the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood evidently unwittingly sat next to Simon Plosker of HonestReporting in the IDC cafeteria 

If you recall, the Guardian was the winner (in a landslide!) of HonestReporting’s 2011 Dishonest Reporter Award – an award attributed to, among other factors: Sherwood’s bizarre and unprofessional diatribe directed towards the Jewish Chronicle’s Stephen Pollard in response to a JC essay she disagreed with, her false claim that the Knesset was built on the ancestral farmland of the abandoned Palestinian village, as well as the journalist’s activist’s fishing expedition on board a Palestinian vessel (more than 3 nautical miles) off the coast of Gaza.

While I’m not sure if Sherwood knew she was seated next to one of her many Zionist nemeses while at the IDC, my guess is that this photo, from a couple of years ago, would accurately represent her possible reaction if so informed.

Israel fires back at Harriet Sherwood over allegations that Palestinian kids were mistreated

On Jan. 22, the Guardian published Harriet Sherwood’s report, Palestinian children – alone and bewildered in Israel’s Al-Jalame Jail, which included accusations that Israel mistreats Palestinian teens charged with acts of violence, allegations largely based on information provided by one radical, anti-Zionist NGO.

Specifically, Sherwood charged that a substantial percentage of Palestinian children arrested by Israeli soldiers (for acts of violence) have been mistreated while in custody – which, it was claimed, includes physical abuse and long stays of solitary confinement. 

In an over 2700 word long report only 230 were devoted to presenting the Israeli side of the story, and even those few passages curiously omitted the following emphatic denial by Israeli Security officials (which was provided to the Guardian prior to publication):

“The claims that Palestinian minors were subject to interrogation techniques that include beatings, prolonged periods in handcuffs, threats, kicks, verbal abuse, humiliation, isolation and prevention of sleep are utterly baseless.”

As HonestReporting noted, Sherwood also severely downplayed the offences Palestinian teens are charged with, which include:

[The recruitment by terrorist organizations...involvement in suicide bomb attacks, Molotov cocktail throwing, stone throwing and stabbing, grenade throwing, the use of explosives, shooting, car bombs, transfer of weapons, kidnapping, rocket launching, as well as assault and murder.

Today, eleven days following Sherwood's smear against Israel, 'Comment is Free' provided Amir Ofek, press attache for the Embassy of Israel in London, the chance to respond.

Ofek, consistent with the information made available to Sherwood prior to publishing her story, strongly refuted allegations that the torture and humiliation of Palestinian suspects was permitted, and categorically denied that "solitary confinement in order to induce a confession" is employed - all of which, Ofek argued, severely undermines the veracity of the Guardian report.

Moreover, while Sherwood provided meager space for the Israeli side of the story in her original report, she didn't see fit to include any information on the severity of the crimes Palestinian teens were arrested for, choosing instead to focus on the "emotional scars" inflicted upon those in custody. 

As Ofek noted about the horrific nature of the atrocities that minors, some as young as 12, can be arrested for:

Hakim Awad, 17, is a minor. Last March he and his 18-year-old cousin, Amjad, brutally murdered the Fogel family while they slept. No mercy was shown to three-month-old Hadas, her two brothers (aged four and 11) and their parents. The scene of the crime, including the severed head of a toddler, left even the most experienced of police officers devastated. The duo proudly confessed to their killings, and they have shown no subsequent remorse.

Ofek added:

Between 2000-04, 292 minors took part in terrorist activities...Ismail Tsabaj, 12, Azi Mostafa, 13, and Yousuf Basam, 14, were sent by Hamas on a mission chillingly similar to the one involving the Fogels, aiming to penetrate a Jewish home at night and slaughter a family in their beds. In this case, the IDF fortunately stopped them in time.

Ofek further noted that Sherwood's dismissive claim that "most [Palestinian children arrested] are accused of throwing stones at soldiers or settlers”, shows a “bewildering disregard for the damage that throwing stones…can cause”, before adding:

“Judah Shoham never reached the age of many of these minors, as he was killed by Palestinians throwing stones, aged just five months. Similarly, Jonathan Palmer never reached his second birthday; he was killed with his father [Asher] when stones were hurled at their car last October.”

Indeed, most tellingly, while Sherwood’s report not only named the Palestinian teens who alleged Israeli mistreatment (and even included an eleven minute video of the teens telling their story), a search of the Guardian’s website didn’t turn up even one mention of the Israelis – Jonathan (Yonatan) Palmer and his father, Asher – murdered by Palestinian teen “rock throwers” who Ofek referred to.  

The only mention of the deadly act of terrorism by Palestinian teens at all was a throw-away passage buried in a story about a mosque vandalized in Northern Israel, on Oct. 3., and a supremely callous characterization by Harriet Sherwood in a story titled “Israel approves new settler homes in East Jerusalem“, which referred to the victims in passing as a “Jewish settler and his son.” [emphasis added]

Wrote Sherwood of the Palestinian teens arrested by Israeli soldiers in her Jan 22 report:

“Following detention many children exhibit symptoms of trauma: nightmares, mistrust of others, fear of the future, feelings of helplessness and worthlessness, obsessive compulsive behaviour, bed-wetting, aggression, withdrawal and lack of motivation.”

As Sherwood continually demonstrates, the “trauma” suffered by family and friends mourning the loss of Israeli victims of terror (such as Asher and Yonatan Palmer) is simply not part of the narrative. 

Palestinian teens profiled in Sherwood's report

Not seen in the Guardian: Asher Hillel Palmer, 25, and his one-year-old son Yonatan, victims of terror committed by Palestinian teens


Guardian Report Misses the Real Child Abuse

This is cross posted by Simon Plosker at HonestReporting

NBC News reports:

The images grow no less shocking with time — a gaping wound on a tiny skull, the hair matted with blood; a gunshot that pierced the skin of a small torso and went straight toward the kidney; and finally, the broken neck and severed penis of a 13-year-old boy, his mangled body contorted on a plastic sheet.

This isn’t, however, a story from Israel but the shocking example of what is happening to Syrian children being tortured and murdered by the Assad regime.

Meanwhile, in Israel, The Guardian runs a special report on the alleged mistreatment of Palestinian children detained by the Israeli military. With the report is an 11 minute video which includes footage of an interrogation. A Palestinian child cries, not as a result of torture but because he is going to miss some school exams.

By opening this critique with the emotive and disturbing description of a dead child, we could be accused of being deliberately manipulative. Just like The Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood who also set the scene in a similar fashion:

The room is barely wider than the thin, dirty mattress that covers the floor. Behind a low concrete wall is a squat toilet, the stench from which has no escape in the windowless room. The rough concrete walls deter idle leaning; the constant overhead light inhibits sleep. The delivery of food through a low slit in the door is the only way of marking time, dividing day from night.

This is Cell 36, deep within Al Jalame prison in northern Israel. It is one of a handful of cells where Palestinian children are locked in solitary confinement for days or even weeks. One 16-year-old claimed that he had been kept in Cell 36 for 65 days.

It is an ugly scene for an equally ugly story that paints Israel as a serial abuser of Palestinian children. The real child abuse in reality, however, is that caused by Palestinian society and media that glorifies terrorists, suicide bombers and “martyrs”, encouraging Palestinian youth to follow the same path.

A vulnerable child is easy pickings for recruitment by terrorist organizations. In recent years the most predominant activities characterizing involvement of minors were involvement in suicide bomb attacks, Molotov cocktail throwing, stone throwing and stabbing. Minors have also been involved in grenade throwing, use of explosives, shooting, car bombs, transfer of weapons, kidnapping, rocket launching, as well as assault and murder.

See here for more on Children Dying to Kill.

And while it suits Palestinian propaganda to promote the image of children armed with stones facing Israeli armor, the reality is that stones can kill. As recently as September 2011, Asher Palmer and his infant son Yonatan were killed after the vehicle he was driving overturned as a result of Palestinian rock throwing.

The Israeli response: Unpublished by The Guardian

There are often complaints that Israel does not react in a timely manner to address allegations such as those made by The Guardian. While Israeli Government spokesman Mark Regev does appear in The Guardian’s video along with a token paragraph in the main article, most of the Israeli Security Agency’s (ISA) response went unpublished as Harriet Sherwood picked out only a few quotes.

Here, for the record, we are including the response from the ISA that was sent to The Guardian before its article was published. In it, the ISA states:

  • The claims that Palestinian minors were subject to interrogation techniques that include beatings, prolonged periods in handcuffs, threats, kicks, verbal abuse, humiliation, isolation and prevention of sleep are utterly baseless.
  • Those detained for ISA questioning receive the full rights for which they are eligible, in accordance with international treaties of which the State of Israel is a signatory and according to Israeli law, including the right to legal counsel and visits by the Red Cross.

Click here for the full ISA response.

DCI-PS: A Politicized, Anti-Israel NGO

We already know only too well from bitter experience, The Guardian’s anti-Israel agenda. But what of Defence for Children International – Palestine Section, the non-governmental organization (NGO) that collected Palestinian testimonies and collaborated with The Guardian?

According to NGO Monitor:

  • DCI-PS supports BDS campaigns, and is an active participant in boycott efforts in the framework of the UN and other venues. Also lobbies the UN and the EU to promote these campaigns.
  • Calls for Israel to “accept historical and legal responsibility for the Nakba, and recognise the principle of the right to return that was endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in its Resolution No. 194 in 1948.”
  • Published an ‘urgent appeal,’ calling the UN Human Rights Council members to “endorse all the recommendations contained in the Goldstone report…and submit the report to the General Assembly and the Prosecutor of the ICC for appropriate action.”

This is only a small selection of examples of DCI-PS’s politicized and anti-Israel agenda that puts its credibility in doubt. After all, if this NGO is actively seeking evidence with which to attack Israel, then coaxing questionable testimony from minors of questionable character who may have already been involved in criminal or terrorist activity may be easier than it should.

The Guardian’s Agenda Journalism

If any further proof were needed of The Guardian’s brand of agenda-driven journalism, it appeared the day after the original article. This follow-up focused on the UK government’s response to the allegations raised by The Guardian.

This is a prime example of how a biased and one-sided article in the media can have damaging consequences way beyond simple public relations damage.

Commenting to The Guardian is Sandra Osborne MP, who has been leading the campaign in Parliament. The photo below of Osborne with Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh taken in July 2011 is an indication of where her sympathies lie.

Harry’s Place blog documents Osborne’s thought’s on the “moderate” Hamas leader:

We were also able to meet with Ismail Haniyeh who is recognised as PM in Gaza (while Fayyad is still seen as PM in the West Bank), who heads up the successful Hamas Parliamentary Group. He is a popular figure, living modestly locally in Gaza. He has been pivotal in taking Hamas down a more moderate road leading to a renunciation of violence and keeping the more militant factions within Hamas under control while promoting engagement with rival Fatah. We discussed a wide range of issues but he made it clear that some of the most important could not be seriously addressed until Israel recognised the Palestinian State and real progress was made.

Advocacy journalism is not, by itself, unacceptable. After all, it is the job of a free media to shine the spotlight on untoward behavior wherever it might be found. Indeed, the Israeli press is usually the first to expose issues that need to be investigated in a functioning liberal democracy.

What is unacceptable, however, is The Guardian’s relentless campaign to portray Israel in as negative a light as possible. If only the children of Syria or any number of other places in the Middle East had Guardian reporters advocating on their behalf instead of on the one place where the mechanisms of accountability and rule of law actually exist.

It would be naive to believe that there have never been any Israeli violations of those laws specifically meant to protect the rights of minors in detention. If these cases exist, there are authorities tasked with investigating and dealing with such deviations. This is not, however, the norm.

The Guardian, in collaboration with DCI-PS, has deliberately and falsely portrayed Israel as a country that tolerates the torture and abuse of Palestinian children, which is definitively not the case. Having to arrest, prosecute and imprison minors is by its very nature a difficult issue. Unfortunately, Israel has been forced out of necessity to address a problem arising from Palestinian society.

So where then is the real child abuse?

Send your considered comments to The Guardian – letters@guardian.co.uk

Dutch Daily: “Chosen People have to be perfect” (Israeli prenatal care framed in Nazi eugenic terms)

This was written by Yochanan Visser of Missing Peace, and cross posted at HonestReporting.

Last week the Dutch Christian daily ‘Trouw’ reached a new low when it published a vicious article about prenatal care in Israel entitled: “The chosen people have to be perfect”.

The writer, Ilse van Heusden, gave birth to a healthy baby boy while temporarily living in Israel.

She succeeded in portraying the prenatal care in Israel as a government instigated ‘military operation’ aimed at the production of babies as perfect as possible.

Apart from distortions and lies the article contained many accusations and insinuations which are reminiscent of classic anti-Semitic rants.

Requests

After the publication of the article we contacted ‘Trouw’ with a request to allow the publication of an op-ed in which we could debunk the false claims and lies in Van Heusden’s article.

‘Trouw’ did not even bother to respond, nor did the editors respond to a similar request by the Dutch branch of the Likud party.

Examples

Here is a prime example of the anti-Semitic content of the article:

Van Heusden:

To be pregnant in Israel is comparable to a military operation. Countless echos and blood tests should produce the perfect baby, nothing can be left to the luck of the draw. The state demands healthy babies and a lot of them too.

This was later followed by an outrageous lie about child allowances in Israel.

Van Heusden:

What makes things even more emotionally charged is the Israeli demand to produce many children. The state promotes the birth of children by supplying, among other things, a considerable child allowance.

To support these outrageous claims, she misused a quote made by former Minister of the Interior Shlomo Benizri in 2002. At the time Benizri declared: “the fear of losing Israel’s unique character obligates us to take action so as not to become a minority in our own country.”

Of course Van Heusden knew very well that Benizri was not talking about more Jewish babies, but about the influx of illegal immigrants and foreign workers.

She then suggested that the way Israel promotes having children is comparable to Arafat’s policy of using the womb of Palestinian women as a weapon.

Child allowance

It is of course a lie that Israel ‘demands’ many or ‘perfect’ babies. The state does not interfere in the decision to have children; that is something Israelis decide for themselves.

It is also a lie that the state promotes child birth with considerable child allowances.

In fact, since 2002, the Israeli government has considerably reduced the level of child allowances. This reduction rose to as high as 70% for a family with 8 children.

An average child now receives 35 Euros ($44) per month.

That is far below the Netherlands where child allowance is an average of 120 Euro ($152) per month for children born before 1995, and roughly 75 Euro ($95) for children born since then.

Furthermore, this summer thousands of Israelis demonstrated against the fact that parents themselves had to pay for daycare of their children up till the age of five years (The Israeli government recently reduced the age to three years).

Racist state

After writing that she was diagnosed with the Cytomegalovirus (CMV) virus and as a result was requested to conduct an additional test, Van Heusden exclaimed:

I was surprised about the spasmodic attitude about this test and the previous one. After all children are loved and honored here and Israel is a paradise when it comes to having children … But the flipside of the story is that having children is a demand and a discussion about that demand is not possible.

In actual fact, the prenatal program in Israel consists of recommendations only; a woman can refuse to conduct any test at all stages of pregnancy.

Van Heusden then compared the Israeli prenatal care to the Dutch system which she holds in high esteem:

Every time I had to undergo such a test (diabetes blood test) it caused distress. In the Netherlands my first pregnancy was without problems and it was dealt with by the obstetrician accordingly. I was boring but ‘boring was good’, explained the obstetrician.

I am healthy and not in the category of the Ashkenazi Jews … yet I had to experience twelve echo tests and four blood tests”.

Writing about the birth of her son Van Heusden said:

finally we held this little baby boy in our arms that went through all those tests. When we admired his little fingers and toes we saw that one of his toes was too small. His personal revenge on the Israeli health system.

It is obvious that Van Heusden twisted everything that was done to safeguard her health and that of her child into an attempt to prove that Israel is a racist state which has a system to produce perfect babies.

Her claims are so outrageous that rebuttal seems beyond the pale.

Basic facts

However to understand the viciousness of the claims in her article it is nevertheless useful to provide some basic facts about Israeli prenatal care and the health system in general.

First of all, prenatal care in Israel is organized according to World Health Organization recommendations and is now on a higher level than that in the Netherlands.

Furthermore, Van Leusden was diagnosed with the CMV virus, which is the sole explanation for the many tests she had to undergo. In her article she admits that CMV can cause severe damage to the fetus.

Several Israeli women wrote us that on an average, 4 to 5 echo (ultrasound) tests are usual and not 12 as in the case of Van Leusden. Another woman from northern Israel claimed that her twins owed their lives to these echo tests.

Van Leusden’s criticism about the diabetes blood test is completely unjustified. This test – standard procedure in all modern medical systems – is designed to detect gestational diabetes; a disorder which can have serious and even fatal consequences for mother and child.

Mortality rate

Through this type of advanced prenatal care, Israel has managed over the last 35 years to reduce the infant mortality rate by almost 70% (24.6 per 1000 infants in 1973 compared to 3.8 per 1000 in 2008).

A similar figure was reached among the Arab population in Gaza and the West Bank (now the lowest in the entire Middle East: 11 per 1000 compared to 58 in 1968 and 61 in Iraq nowadays).

It is also the reason Israel now has a lower infant mortality rate than the Netherlands, which has one of the worst rates in Western Europe.

High quality care

The high quality of Israeli health care is in part due to prevention programs such as prenatal care. There are nationwide population examinations for breast and colon cancer. Blood tests are almost standard during visits to a doctor.

As a result people are living longer (81.6 years in Israel compared with an average of 79.5 in the OECD). Israel has one of the highest cancer survival rates in the world (84% breast cancer survival rate in 2009). The same applies to the survival rate after a stroke (CVA) and Myocardial Infarction.

All this was achieved with a health budget which is approximately 60% lower than in the Netherlands ($2,165 per person per year compared with $5144 in the Netherlands) and a number of hospital beds that is far below the OECD average (2 per 1000 compared with 3.5 in OECD countries).

Eugenics

Of course all of this data was also at Van Heusden’s disposal.

However, she chose to write a libelous article where care for an unborn child in Israel was deliberately presented as a military operation and as a political weapon born out racist motives.

When an Israeli caretaker finally had enough of her complaints about the excellent prenatal care in Israel and made a sarcastic joke about the need for ‘the chosen people to be perfect’, she used it to make her point.

One ‘Trouw’ reader summarized the article as follows:

Subtle article by the way, it even manages to bring good infant care in Israel in the vicinity of “eugenics” and thus comparing it to Nazism.

Indeed such articles can normally be found on the websites of white supremacists such as David Duke or on anti-Semitic sites such as Jew Watch.

The fact that a Dutch Christian mainstream paper published it should sound alarms in The Netherlands.

The paper should issue an apology and dissociate itself from writers like Ilse van Heusden.

(Trouw’s article deserves to be exposed to a wider non-Dutch speaking audience. Here’s your chance to let Trouw know how appalling this is. Send your considered comments to Trouw’s editorial team – redactie@trouw.nl)

The Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood Gets 2012 Off to a Shoddy Start

This is cross posted by Simon Ploskerat HonestReporting

The newsprint has barely dried on the back of 2011 that saw The Guardian deservedly pick up the annual Dishonest Reporter Award. This hasn’t, however, stopped the paper’s Harriet Sherwood from carrying on where The Guardian left off with her first dispatch of the new year.

According to Sherwood, a supposedly reformed Palestinian terrorist has had his amnesty revoked by Israeli authorities:

Zakaria Zubeidi, a former of leader of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, is being held by Palestinian security forces after being told he would be arrested by Israeli authorities if he did not hand himself in.

“I am in a Palestinian Authority jail in Jenin,” he told the Guardian by phone. His account could not be confirmed by either Israeli or Palestinian sources.

If Zubeidi’s account cannot be confirmed, why bother digging any deeper if it already fits The Guardian’s agenda? Sherwood has previously demonstrated an inability to do elementary research extending even to a simple Google search. In this case, the story is presented in typically black and white terms appreciated by Israel-hating Guardian readers as ‘peaceful reformed Palestinian held in Palestinian jail and it’s Israel’s fault.’

If the story fits that predetermined frame then why bother to do the same research or mention some salient points that other media outlets actually bothered with?

For example, here are some details in a report from Global Post that Sherwood failed to mention, all constructed from widely available existing news sources including Israeli media that Sherwood either didn’t bother to read or preferred to ignore:

The reason for the decision [to revoke the amnesty] has not yet been given. According to Arutz Sheva, Zubeidi was recently involved in an incident in Jenin in which “gunmen under his command pointed their guns at PA security officers.”

Ynet News also suggested that his detention had more to do with Palestinian authorities than Israeli ones:

Zubeidi [...] is also on the Palestinian security forces’ radar – they accuse him of weapon offenses, which place him in violation of his clemency deal.

 Indeed YNet also reported:

Zubiedi stressed that the deal was, in fact, signed with the Palestinian security forces and “not between me and Israel.”

All this extra context and information that Harriet Sherwood failed to include. After all, why ruin a story if Israel might not actually be the only alleged bad guy in the piece?