Guardian fauxtography: Chris McGreal pulls a Jon Donnison

You no doubt recall when, during the last war in Gaza in 2012, BBC’s Jon Donnison tweeted a photo of a girl with the title “Pain in Gaza”, to which Donnison added his own commentary – “Heartbreaking”.  It of course turned out that the genuinely heartbreaking image was actually from Syria and not from Gaza – a mistake for which Donnison subsequently apologized. 

Well, within the last hour, the Guardian’s Chris McGreal just retweeted the following, to his nearly 4,000 followers, a Tweet by Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director, Middle East and North Africa Division, for Human Rights Watch.


However, this photo of a boy (8 year old Eid) holding his new prosthetic leg was taken in Syria, not Gaza.


The article posted at the site of Palestine Children’s Relief Fund explains:

Thanks to the support of donors all over the world, the hard work of the PCRF Jordan Chapter, and Mr. Charl Stenger, an orthotics specialist working in Dubai, 8-year-old Eid from Syria got his new artificial legs after losing them from a bombing earlier this year (his mother was killed and his 5-year-old sister also lost a leg).  The PCRF is dedicated to helping any child in need, regardless of their nationality, religion or ethnicity.  

No doubt, apologies from McGreal and Whitson will be forthcoming.

UPDATE: Whitson deleted her tweet and wrote this:


No word yet from McGreal.

The Guardian continues to yawn over Palestinians summarily executed in Gaza

A couple of days following the start of the November war between Israel and Hamas, masked Palestinian gunmen in Gaza publicly executed seven Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel – a story which was widely covered.   

According to Palestinian witnesses, at around noon on Nov. 16 a van stopped at a Gaza City intersection, and several masked men pushed seven suspected ‘informers’ out of the vehicle.  The gunmen then ordered them to lie face down in the street and shot them all in the head.  Shortly after the killing, a mob surrounded the corpses and some in the crowd “stomped and spat on the bodies”, while others kicked the head of one of the dead men.

One of the corpses was tied to a motorcycle and dragged through the streets as people reportedly screamed, “God is Great!”.

Palestinian gunmen ride motorcycles as they drag  the body of a man, who was suspected of working for Israel, in Gaza City



“They should have been killed in a more brutal fashion so others don’t even think about working with the occupation,” said one of the Palestinian bystanders.

The victims allegedly had notices tied around their necks saying they had been killed by Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades – Hamas’s ‘armed wing’.

In stark contrast to the Guardian’s intense coverage of the 8 day war – which included an official Guardian editorial, frequent updates at their Middle East Live blog, and direct reporting from Gaza City by Harriet Sherwood and Chris McGreal - their only stand alone story about this brutal extra-judicial killing was an anonymous AP story on Nov. 20.

Additionally, the Guardian has also thus far failed to cover a recent report by Human Rights Watch (widely reported in the mainstream media) condemning Hamas for failing to investigate the Nov. 16 summary executions.  HRW noted that Hamas’s failure to investigate “the brazen murders” make “a mockery of its claims that it’s upholding the rule of law in Gaza”. 

Whilst the suggestion that Hamas would ever conduct a fair inquiry into human rights violations committed by its own military is of course absurd, the Guardian’s lack of interest in the savage murder of seven Gazans – particularly in contrast to their intense focus on Palestinian terrorists imprisoned by Israel who engage in hunger strikes – continues to make a mockery of claims that their concern for Palestinian rights is principled, and not largely inspired by an animus towards Israel.

Will the Guardian report on war crimes committed by Hamas?

Here’s how the Guardian’s Gaza page looks today, Dec. 27.


As you can see, there’s very little about Gaza, save ‘Snapshot amid blockades and gunfire from June, which highlights Palestinian suffering in the territory due, it is claimed, to Israeli restrictions, and a piece (circled) from Dec. 20 about an accusation by Human Rights Watch (HRW) that Israel violated the laws of war by attacking the offices of al-Aqsa TV and al-Quds TV during ‘Pillar of Defense’

Currently missing from the page, however, is a report issued by HRW – reported elsewhere in the media – that Gaza terrorists violated the laws of war during the November conflict by launching over a thousand rockets toward population centers in Israel.  HRW highlighted statements by the groups firing the weapons admitting that they were targeting civilians.

The report also noted that Hamas and other armed groups “repeatedly fired rockets from densely populated areas, near homes, businesses, and a hotel, unnecessarily placing civilians in the vicinity at grave risk from Israeli counter-fire.”

No, it’s not significant that HRW occasionally takes a detour from it’s egregiously disproportionate criticism of Israel to acknowledge the painfully obvious about the contempt for human life routinely displayed by the Palestinian extremists who currently rule Gaza.

The only question is whether the Guardian’s Israel correspondent will deem the Palestinians’ violation of Israeli human rights newsworthy.

Guardian ignores story of 30,000 blacks ethnically cleansed from Libyan town

H/T Joe

The BBC recently reported the following:

“The 30,000 people living in a town in northern Libya have been driven out of their homes, in what appears to have been an act of revenge for their role in the three-month siege of the city of Misrata.

For three months between early March and the middle of May, the forces of Muammar Gaddafi laid siege to Misrata. These forces were partly based in Tawergha, and the people of the town are accused of being complicit in the attempt to put down the uprising in the city.

The fighters of Misrata eventually prevailed, breaking out of their battered city, and Misratan brigades made up part of the force that overran the capital Tripoli in August.

In the middle of August, between the end of the siege and the killing of Gaddafi, Misratan forces drove out everyone living in Tawergha, a town of 30,000 people. Human rights groups have described this as an act of revenge…collective punishment possibly amounting to [ethnic cleansing &] a crime against humanity.

Tawergha, Libya

The BBC report continued:

Tawerghans are mostly descendants of black slaves, generally poor, were patronised by the Gaddafi regime and were broadly supporters of his regime.

What happened in Misrata and Tawergha…can also be seen as an example of the victors in the war that overthrew Gaddafi imposing summary and brutal justice on some of the communities that sided with the former regime and were vanquished.

As you enter Tawergha from the main road, the name is erased from the road sign. It is now eerily silent but for the incongruously beautiful bird song. There were a few cats skulking about, and one skeletal, limping dog.

Building after building is burnt and ransacked. The possessions of the people who lived here are scattered about, suggesting desperate flight. 

Buildings show the scars of heavy bombardment, some are burnt out shells, some are just abandoned. The town is empty of humans, apart from a small number of Misratan militiamen preventing the return of the town’s residents.

Those that escaped the town are now scattered across the country. As many as 15,000 people are in Hun, in central Libya. Some are in Sabha and Benghazi, and more than 1,000 are in a refugee camp in Tripoli.

…it does not appear that anyone is being held to account for the events in Tawergha.

British journalist Andrew Gilligan visited Tawergha after the cleansing of its residents and found many slogans painted in and around the city (consistent with the accounts of anti-Gaddafi fighters and commanders whom he quoted) which made reference to the dark pigmentation of many Tawergha denizens.

One sign referred to the Misrata Brigade as “the brigade for purging slaves [and] black skin“…

Human rights groups have documented some of the many atrocities committed by Misratans against Tawerghans.

They include beating to death a mentally ill man, torturing prisoners into false confessions and abusing prisoners held in detention.

“Abuse included the use of electric shock and beatings, including beatings on the soles of the feet (falaga).”

One Tawerghan detainee described his ordeal, saying:

“They beat me on my feet every night for 15 minutes, and some people hit my backside and my back. For four days I couldn’t sit. They poured cold water on top of me, then took an electric stick and put it on my shoulders, back, and arms each night for ten minutes. It shook me. I can’t describe it… They used an engine belt, a plastic hose, a wooden stick, a horse whip…. I had blood in my urine for four or five days.”

Witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch described the following:

“[We] saw guards whip one dark-skinned Tawerghan detainee while forcing him to run around a courtyard and then telling him to climb a pole while shouting, ‘Monkey needs a banana.’”

I searched for a condemnation, of even a mention, of the ethnic cleansing of Tawergha at the site of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and found nothing.

Upon searching the Guardian’s site, I found only one report which focused on what happened in Tawargha.  

The story all but ignored the crimes committed there despite the fact that other news media outlets, and human rights organizations, had been reporting about and documenting the forced expulsion and violence against the residents of Tawargha since mid August.

(Indeed, reports of racism, lynchings and explicit calls by Libyan rebel leaders to ethnically cleans Libyan blacks, such as the residents of Tawergha, were reported in July.)

The lone Guardian story (Tawargha: fires blaze and blood lingers in Libyan ghost town) by Chris Stephen on Sept. 13, suggested that the residents of Tawergha fled the town voluntarily!

Ugly racism and ethnic cleansing of a black minority by Arab Muslims:  a disturbing omen for the future of the Arab Spring’ the Guardian will certainly never report.

Guardian commenter gets banned after noting racist record of HRW’s Joe Stork

Joe Stork, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa division for Human Right Watch, published a piece at CiF, “Bahrain’s Medics are the targets of retribution“, May 5.

Stork, for those not already aware, is on record calling for the destruction of Israel and has expressed support for the Munich Massacre, a very inconvenient little fact which was noted by the following Guardian commenter:


How political inconvenient was the fact that the Middle East Director of HRW, and CiF contributor, has made racist comments and praised a deadly terrorist attack against innocent Israeli civilians?

If you go to the comment thread, you’ll see there is no trace of this comment anymore. Not only was this comment deleted without a trace, but we’ve learned that the commenter’s user privileges were also subsequently suspended.

As we’ve shown repeatedly about Comment is Free’s moderation process, all comments are treated equally, but some more equally than others.

Human Rights Watch Exploits Race To Vilify Israel, Bait Jewish Community

This Report was published by NGO Monitor.

  • An op-ed by Human Right Watch’s Middle East and North Africa Director Sarah Leah Whitson, “A Matter of Civil Rights” (Huffington Post, April 15, 2011), blatantly exploits the US Civil Rights Movement to vilify and demonize Israel.
  • Abusing the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King: “In a week when the U.S. paused to recall the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, President Peres might have considered King’s message — an end to segregation — and why such a system of racial inequality remains in place in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”
  • This op-ed contains 23 references that abuse civil rights rhetoric in this way, including accusations of “laws and policies [that] strictly segregate Jews from Palestinians,” “blatant racial inequality,” and “racial discrimination and segregation.” This is Whitson’s dominant theme.
  • In previous statements, Whitson has abused the term “apartheid” to further the assault on Jewish self-determination and equated Israeli policies to “Jim Crow laws of the American south.”  This type of rhetoric was condemned by African-American student leaders who called it “as transparent as it is base.”  Similarly, Dr. King decried discriminatory attacks on Israel, declaring, “When people criticize Zionism, they mean Jews.”
  • Crude propaganda replacing a complex ethno-national and territorial conflict with the false narrative of racism: “[N]ot only do Israeli laws and policies strictly segregate Jews from Palestinians, they deliberately deprive Palestinians of the most basic needs, in many cases forcing them out of their communities.”
  • “Jewish only roads” and other myths: “And security concerns do not justify systematically separating Palestinians from Jews, with shanties and dirt roads provided for the one, and spacious villas with swimming pools and paved highways provided for the other.”
  • Race baiting U.S. Jews: “And why should American Jews, who have a history of deep engagement with the U.S. civil rights movement, support settlements built on these kinds of laws and policies in Israel?”
  • Leadership in anti-Israel BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions): “This is why Human Rights Watch, which extensively documented these discriminatory practices in a report, has called on the EU to clearly label settlement-produced goods, on businesses to review their activities in the settlements, and on the US to cut aid to Israel equal to what Israel spends on the settlements and to investigate tax exemptions for settlement charities.”


HRW’s Middle East and North Africa Director Sarah Leah Whitson’s op-ed “A Matter of Civil Rights” (Huffington Post, April 15, 2011) further highlights this organization’s central role in exploiting universal human rights to promote anti-Israeli discrimination. This is a continuation of HRW’s December 2010 unsourced “report” entitled “Separate and Unequal,” which also abused the legacy of the US Civil Rights Movement to single-out and advance hatred towards the Jewish nation-state.

In the op-ed, Whitson replaces the complex national and territorial conflict with invented claims and legal myths in order to accuse the Jewish state of “a system of racial inequality remains in place in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” “laws and policies [that] strictly segregate Jews from Palestinians,” “blatant racial inequality,” and “racial discrimination and segregation.” Whitson also abuses the language of the US Civil Rights Movement to further vilify Israel: “We do no honor to [Dr. Martin Luther] King’s legacy by supporting policies that promote racial discrimination and segregation.” (Half the article is devoted to this false analogy, with the terms “segregate,” “race/racist,” “discrimination,” and “equal/unequal” appearing 23 times: “segregate” – 3; “race/racist” – 4; “discrimination” – 8; “equal/unequal” – 8.)

Whitson continues by employing stereotypes, generalizations, and crude references about American Jews:  “And why should American Jews, who have a history of deep engagement with the U.S. civil rights movement, support settlements built on these kinds of laws and policies in Israel?”

These dishonest attacks reflect deep prejudices and hatred. Such fictitious allegations of Jewish race-hatred of Arabs are part of the incitement program produced by the PLO’s Negotiation Affairs Department, which invented the myth of “Israel’s plan to segregate the Palestinian People while continuing the colonization of Palestinian land.”

Whitson and HRW’s obsessive focus on Israel is evident in the different language employed when referring to other contemporary conflicts, in which history, territory, security, and other factors are as or more significant. In the op-ed, she tries to claim that: “Most governments have long since stopped trying to justify separating people based on race or national origin . . . .”  HRW often erases systematic discriminatory and repressive practices – for example, in Saudi Arabia, where Whitson participated in a 2009 trip raise funds to combat “pro-Israel pressure groups.”  HRW’s role in the use of human rights to attack Israel, and close cooperation with Arab and Islamic regimes, has been cited by HRW founder Robert Bernstein, who condemned his own NGO for turning “Israel into a pariah state,” while ignoring the human rights violations of totalitarian regimes.

Whitson’s distortions and falsehoods are also used to advance BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions) targeting Israel. This is a key part of the strategy developed at the infamous NGO Forum of the UN’s 2001 Durban Conference, in which HRW also played a central role.  Since then, Whitson and HRW have been leading voices in this campaign.

Whitson, who has in the past abused the term “apartheid” to further the “Durban” assault on Jewish self-determination rights, equates Israeli policies to “Jim Crow laws of the American south.”  This misappropriation of civil rights and apartheid rhetoric for anti-Israel campaigning was recently condemned by a group of African-American student leaders who called it “as transparent as it is base.”  Similarly, Dr. King decried discriminatory attacks on Israel, declaring, “When people criticize Zionism, they mean Jews.”

Sarah Leah Whitson was hired as HRW’s MENA director (2004) after having worked as an anti-Israel activist. As thisHuffington Post article and many other statements demonstrate, and as documented in an article in The New Republic, she has abused her position at HRW to pursue this activism. That profile cites Whitson praise for the notorious anti-Israel campaigner Norman Finkelstein — “I continue to have tremendous respect and admiration for him, because as you probably know, making Israeli abuses the focus of one’s life work is a thankless but courageous task that may well end up leaving all of us quite bitter.”

In attempting to whitewash Whitson’s deep prejudice, HRW program director Iain Levine falsely claimed that activism does not play a role: “…when they come to the door of this organization, they park [their solidarity backgrounds] behind.” Clearly, for Sarah Leah Whitson and the Middle East division, this is not the case.

Charity begins with home truths: Secrets, lies and donations

A guest post from Geary

OxFam’s Israel Boycott Poster: “The Fruits of Israel Taste Bitter. Refuse the Occupation of Palestine: Don’t Buy Israeli Fruits or Vegetables”

It is an open secret that several of even the mainstream “high street” charities and NGOs long ago morphed into political associations.

One area where this is most obvious is environmentalism. According to War on Want, the only way to fight climate change (and presumably everything else they don’t like) is to smash capitalism.

Dr Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, has often expressed his utter dismay at this process of politicisation:

“The environmental movement I helped found has lost its objectivity, morality and humanity.”

His words are echoed by other experts in the field of human development:


Activists who’ve never had to worry about starvation, malaria and simple survival have no right to impose their fears, prejudices and ideologies on the world’s poor.

(CS Prakash, Professor of plant genetics)

Stewart Brand, one-time Green guru, describes in his book Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto the infiltration of his field in the 90s by far-left ideologues, refugees from the lost Cold War who saw environmentalism as a new way of attacking the west and its economic system.

Outside the Green ideological industry, we also have no trouble finding NGOs with blatant political agendas. Human Right Watch’s anti-Israeli stance is a glaring case. The main story on its Middle East page is very generally a criticism of Israel – quite absurd in a region where many countries and organisations, including and especially Israel’s enemies, are guilty of particularly egregious human rights abuse.

However, even when a charity / NGO has not necessarily been infiltrated by far-left ideologues, aid charities find themselves in a kind of fundamental “existential bind”, described with great clarity by Nick Cohen:

The aid charities are hybrids with incompatible aims. On the one hand, they provide relief regardless of the political consequences – like the Red Cross – and, on the other, they lobby for political change – like Human Rights Watch.

Of interest here, he takes the particular case of Oxfam:

… if Oxfam were to speak out against the obscenity of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe being elected to head the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, there’s a fair chance Mugabe would stop Oxfam workers from relieving the suffering inflicted by his economically unsustainable regime. Its hybrid status means Oxfam has to direct disapproval at governments that won’t respond to criticism by closing down Oxfam operations, but, rather, will invite Stocking in for a chat and a cup of tea. The aid charities are therefore treacherous guides to global politics. They are dependent on dictators and must overlook their crimes. They are respected by democrats and can therefore safely blame the democracies for the crimes of others.

(Nick Cohen, New Statesman, May 2007)

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On “martyrs” and enablers

As a follow-up on our earlier post regarding the recent “martyrdom”(via a NATO airstrike in Afghanistan) of British al Qaeda leader Mahmoud Abu Rideh, note the astonishingly sympathetic piece the Guardian did on him in June 2009 entitled “A Day in the life of a terror suspect.”

Here’s some background:

  • Abu Rideh had been detained by the British government in December 2001 for having links to al Qaeda.  In 2005, after a British high court ruling, Rideh was released from prison but was subject to a “control order” – a house arrest which restricted his movements.
  • Rideh was said to have had close ties to the senior leadership of al Qaeda, including its deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and former leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, along with Abu Hamza, the radical preacher.

The portrayal of Rideh (who was then under house arrest) as a victim of government oppression by the Guardian – and NGOs like Amnesty and Human Rights watch – once again demonstrates that much of the British intelligentsia possess a seemingly unlimited capacity to cast reactionary jihadists as victims, as well as what can only be described as a willful blindness to the threat posed to Western society by radical Islam.

We may never know how many Americans and Brits lost their lives as a result of Mahmoud Abu Rideh’s involvement with al Qaeda, and his wish to become a “martyr.”  But, what we certainly do know is that those who continue to make excuses and even advocate for such jihadists are not innocent in the crimes committed by those whose freedom they assisted in securing.

Selling out to Soros


Well,well; it’s amazing what one finds out by reading the Guardian. Had I not read the October 28th editorial “In praise (I think that’s British understatement) of George Soros” for instance, I would never have discovered that I’m apparently of a curmudgeonly persuasion.

It turns out too that I’m deemed to remain “an ill-tempered person full of resentment and stubborn notions” (according to the dictionary) for the Guardian informs me that “[o]nly the most curmudgeonly of his critics could fail to admire what the billionaire is doing with his money”.

As a socialist, I do resent the fact that the Soros fortune was mostly made by carelessly playing around with the lives of the little people affected by currency speculation. Short sellers and operators of hedge funds for the super-rich are not the traditional type of praiseworthy hero for a Left of centre newspaper, but the Guardian’s apparent ‘conversion’ indicates just how far it is prepared to go in sanctifying the methods in order to realise the aim.

I’m afraid that I must also plead guilty to holding on to the stubborn notion that the legalisation of drugs – one of Soros’ pet campaigns – is not a positive step for society to take, particularly in light of the well-known link between drugs and the financing of terror, but also due to my experience as a health-care professional who has often had to deal with the devastating effects of drug use not only upon the lives of addicts themselves, but also upon their families and even innocent bystanders.

But the aspect of Soros’ ‘chequebook advocacy’ which makes me most ill-tempered is his support for organisations which aim to eliminate the Jewish nature of Israel and undermine the elected government of a democratic nation by means of delegitimisation. Call me old fashioned, but I prefer to live in a society in which we count votes, not cash; in which every voice carries equal weight, regardless of wealth or connections. The sad thing is that once upon a time, the Guardian believed in that too.

Soros’ ‘Open Society Institute’ funds a whole host of operations in Israel such as Adalah, Peace Now, Breaking the Silence, Gisha and Yesh Din. Adalah works towards a one-state ‘solution’ in which the Jewish nature of Israel would be replaced by a “democratic, bilingual and multicultural” framework. Jewish immigration would only be permitted for “humanitarian reasons.” In other words, millions of Palestinian refugees would be brought to Israel, but Jews would be severely limited in their right to immigrate as the Law of Return would have been abolished.  Adalah promotes the erroneous and delegitimising concept of ‘Israeli apartheid’ and contributed significantly to the infamous Goldstone Report.  Soros’ Open Society Institute has provided legal assistance to Adalah in its attempts to overturn the Israeli law which states that spouses from enemy states are not automatically granted Israeli citizenship for reasons of security. That’s not only foreign intervention in the internal legal affairs of a sovereign state, but also reckless gambling with the lives of Israeli citizens.

Soros recently donated $100,000,000 in matched funding over a period of 10 years to Human Rights Watch. Readers will no doubt remember that just over a year ago Human Rights Watch’s founder, Robert Bernstein, accused the organization of “helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state”. The generous Soros pledge does not bode well for any kind of improvement in the organizational culture at HRW ; in fact one might even say that this is a case of ‘birds of a feather’ joining forces –  supposed political agenda-free ‘human rights’ activists using the language of civil rights and democracy in order to promote extremist ideology. And if that sounds a little far-fetched, consider the following.

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The Big(gest) Problem With Obsessing Over Israel

This is cross posted by Matthew Ackerman, a Middle East Analyst at The David Project.

For years, because of the numerical superiority brought to bear by Arab League and Organization of the Islamic Conference member states, the UN has pushed out a regular stream of anti-Israel resolutions, working papers, statements, and related flotsam designed to defame the Jewish state. From 2003 until today, more than 40% of human rights resolutions passed by all UN bodies have focused on Israel, an extraordinary figure.

Although now it can seem difficult to believe, the same was not always the case with human rights organizations and related prizes and other goodies governments and other bodies hand out in support of individuals fighting oppression and injustice around the world. And while we seem to live in a world in which the existence of a range of these kinds of organizations is taken for granted, it’s important to remember that they are nearly all of relatively recent birth. The most important of these organizations in the US, for example, is Human Rights Watch. It was founded only in 1978, and has only in the past 10 years made Israel a primary focus of its work.

HRW is instructive in other regards as well. It was founded as Helsinki Watch and designed to monitor the compliance of the Soviet Union and its satellites behind the Iron Curtain with theHelsinki Accords, signed in 1975, with specific provisions guaranteeing freedom of expression and religion to individuals in communist countries. So like other human rights organizations, its moral authority grew almost entirely out of its ability to cast a spotlight on the abuses of oppressive regimes.

But with the collapse of communism in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, it became an organization in search of a mission. It found it by widening its scope to include things like criticism of the Allied bombing campaign in the first Persian Gulf War in 1991 and highlighting the problem of unexploded land mines, which in the 1990’s was a Western cause célèbre, not least because of the interest in the effort showed by the late Princess Diana. That work even won HRW a Nobel Peace Prize, which is a direct ticket to international notoriety and, of equal importance, greater funding dollars.

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HRW’s subjectivity; or, MENA Behaving Badly

This article was originally posted at the Elder of Ziyon blog.

Visitors to Jerusalem this month can pick up the latest free print edition of the English language magazine ‘This Week in Palestine’ from hotel lobbies and other points of distribution. In this June 2010 edition they will find a plethora of anti-Israel articles all of which reinforce the familiar narrative of Palestinians oppressed by Israelis, without any mention of Palestinian violence, the reasons for the construction of the anti-terrorist fence and checkpoints or the inter-factional fighting between Hamas and Fatah. The uninformed tourist’s heart will bleed after reading of children in Ramallah who have never had the opportunity to paddle in the Mediterranean Sea during the hot Middle East summer, but of course the various writers invariably neglect to mention that this is a result of the Oslo accords freely signed by Palestinian leaders and not just some spiteful action on the part of Israel.

Among the articles, most of which are designed to work at a purely emotional level and do not allow uncomfortable facts to distract from their message, is one entitled ‘Juthuruna’  by Nadia Barhoum.

“Some mornings we would wake up to shots from the IDF firing range, just a few hundred feet from my aunt’s home. We could see the soldiers, filing one behind the other, aiming at actual cut-outs of bodies with bull’s-eyes drawn across their chests. The sound of the shots was jarring at first, and then slowly became ‘adi, just background noise. I would strangely begin to feel this way about many other aspects of life there; I began to notice the normalization of occupation: waiting hours to get anywhere, identity cards being demanded at every crossing, and the look of worry on Amti’sface when she knew that anyone was going to travel beyond the village. We could not live as we wanted there.”

Heart string-tugging propaganda aside, this piece takes on a more sinister aspect when one realises that Nadia Barhoum works for Human Rights Watch in New York in its Middle East and North Africa division (MENA).
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