Following CiF Watch post, Guardian removes reference to ‘powerful Jewish lobby’

Though our complaint to the Guardian this morning has thus far gone unanswered, we’re pleased they removed an extremely gratuitous (and pejorative) reference to Jews in a column by Ian Black and Martin Chulov (Israeli forces seize rockets ‘destined for Gaza’ in raid on Iranian ship in Red Sea, March 6).

Here’s the original passage which we highlighted in our post:

The seizure follows a visit this week by the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, to Washington, where he used a meeting with Barack Obama and a stump speech to the powerful Jewish lobby AIPAC to underscore his reservations about a nuclear deal with Iran.

Here’s the passage now:

The seizure follows a visit this week by the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, to Washington, where he used a meeting with Barack Obama and a stump speech to the powerful pro-Israeli lobby AIPAC to underscore his reservations about a nuclear deal with Iran.

As we argued earlier, AIPAC is not a Jewish organization, and the decision by Black and Chulov to use the term “powerful Jewish lobby” is inconsistent with the warnings of the Guardian Readers’ editor Chris Elliott (in a column in 2011) to their journalists and commentators to avoid “language long associated with antisemitic tropes such as Jews having too much power and control”.

Whilst, unfortunately, there’s no editor’s note below the article explaining the new wording, we’re of course glad they saw fit to make the revision. 

UPDATE: Guardian editors did respond to our email, and noted that the article includes the following addendum:


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The Guardian reveals a ‘racist’ song somewhere in the Middle East

Ian Black, the Guardian’s Middle East editor, published a story on Feb. 11th titled ‘Barack Obama cruel for preparing to sell out Jerusalem says Israeli singer’focusing on a song by Israeli songwriter Amir Benayoun which “accuses a ‘cruel’ Barack Obama and Binyamin Netanyahu of preparing to sell out [Jerusalem] as part of a peace agreement”.  

Black contextualizes the story by arguing that Benayoun “represent[s] an increasingly important demographic in Israel, and one that is unlikely to support any division of Jerusalem”.

However, save one gratuitous and arguably bigoted reference to the American President’s middle name, the lyrics of the Sephardi performer’s song are pretty tame, and the editorial decision to devote an entire article on it is especially curious given the paper’s failure to devote any coverage to official Palestinian incitement which sometimes includes explicit calls to murder “evil” Jews.

Here are a few examples which Black or any of his “anti-racist” colleagues could have easily found merely by perusing the website of Palestinian Media Watch.

This Palestinian Authority (PA) TV music video promotes violence and martyrdom for children:

This song demands violence and jihad, and aired on a PA TV cultural show:

This kids’ music video which appeared on PA TV demands that they fight Jews for their mother’s honor:

This PA TV kids’ music video demands that kids fight the evil Jews:

As we’ve noted previously, the Guardian’s almost complete silence in the face of hundreds upon hundreds of examples of state sanctioned anti-Jewish racism – and the glorification of terror – by the PA ensures that their readers will never truly understand the dynamics representing the biggest impediments to peace in the region.

Additionally, Black’s decision to focus on one marginal example of an Israeli musical figure expressing skepticism about peace, while ignoring antisemitic cultural expressions which represent the norm within Palestinian society, provides further evidence of the media group’s inability to hold Palestinians and Israelis accountable to the same moral standards.  

Such ‘bigotry of low expectations’ continues to define the ideology of the Guardian Left. 

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Guardian editor struggles with Jewish Geography, but puts ‘Israeli hawks’ back in Jerusalem

On Nov. 18 we reminded readers that until the summer of 2012 the Guardian’s Style Guide stated that Tel Aviv is the capital of Israel - a shamefully false claim which was only officially retracted by their editors after a complaint was filed with the PCC.  We noted this quintessentially Guardianesque misinformation in response to a recent report by their Middle East editor, Ian Black, titled ‘Hawks squawk even before Iran nuclear deal is sealed‘, Nov. 8.  

Black’s report included this sentence:

Hardliners in Tehran, hawks in Tel Aviv and Washington, nervous Saudis and their Gulf allies are all alarmed at the prospect of a nuclear deal between Iran, the US and the international community [in Geneva].

As we noted, the context made it clear Black was referring to the putatively “hard-line” and “hawkish” political leaders within the governments of Iran, Israel and the United States.  Yet, while the capitals (where the ‘seats of government’ is located) in Iran and the United States were of course correct, the paper’s Middle East “expert” bestowed this status to the wrong Israeli city.

Though no change was prompted to Black’s misleading Nov. 8 report after our complaints, the following sentence in Black’s latest report (a ‘Middle East Year in Review’ published on Dec. 19) included an update on the nuclear deal which, at the very least, is quite curious.

It is an interim [nuclear] agreement and faces opposition from hardliners in Tehran who mistrust the emollient Rouhani, Republicans in Washington and hawks in Jerusalem, where Israel – anxious to maintain its monopoly of (undeclared) nuclear weapons – was ignored by Barack Obama

Yes, those ‘squawking Zionist hawks’ are safely back in their nation’s capital.  

We of course can’t formally claim credit for Black’s ‘evolving’ expertise in the subject of Jewish Geography which likely inspired his implicit acknowledgement that it is wrong to suggest that Tel Aviv is Israel’s capital.  But, in the event that one of their contributors attempts similar rhetorical slights of hand in the future, you may want to ‘gently’ remind them of the following:


The Guardian AGAIN falsely suggests that Tel Aviv is Israel’s capital

As absurd as it may seem to those unfamiliar with the ideological bias which colors most Israel related items published at the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’, up until the summer of 2102 the Guardian’s Style Guide stated that Jerusalem is NOT the capital of Israel; Tel Aviv is”.  This false claim was only retracted after a complaint was filed with the PCC.  

In the August 7 edition of their ‘Corrections and Clarifications’ section, the Guardian accepted that “it is wrong to state that Tel Aviv – the country’s financial and diplomatic centre – is the capital”.

Here’s the Guardian Style Guide before the change:


And, now:


So, while reading the following opening passage, in a Nov. 8 article by the Guardian’s Middle East Editor Ian Black (Hawks squawk even before Iran nuclear deal is sealed), keep in mind that the paper has at least officially ‘acknowledged’ that Tel Aviv is NOT the capital of Israel and that the seat of government is located in Jerusalem.

Hardliners in Tehran, hawks in Tel Aviv and Washington, nervous Saudis and their Gulf allies are all alarmed at the prospect of a nuclear deal between Iran, the US and the international community.

The context makes it clear that Black is referring to the putatively “hardline” and “hawkish” political leaders within the governments of Iran, Israel and the United States.  Yet, while the cities (where the ‘seat of government’ is located) in Iran and the United States are correct, the paper’s Middle East “expert” bestows this status to the wrong Israeli city.

Jerusalem is of course where the Israeli Knesset, Supreme Court, Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office are located, and thus – by the Guardian’s own definition per it’s ‘amended’ style guide – is where the evidently ubiquitous ‘squawking’ Israeli ‘hawks’ routinely gather.


The Israeli Knesset, Jerusalem

The Guardian erred on a fundamental fact about the Jewish state – ‘a mistake they’ve made more than once’.

The Guardian falsely characterizes First Intifada as a “largely unarmed rebellion”

Yesterday we called out the Guardian for repeating the blatantly false claim that Ariel Sharon started the Second Intifada.  Today we came across another Intifada related falsehood advanced by the paper – the suggestion that the First Intifada was “largely an unarmed rebellion”.

The claim, which has been echoed by other Guardian contributors as well, was made in a story they published today from the Guardian Archives – a report about the original Oslo Agreement between Israel and the PLO (written by Ian Black) which originally appeared in the paper on Sept. 10, 1993.


Black’s story included the following passage:

Progress towards this historic moment was driven by the intifada, the largely unarmed rebellion that erupted in Gaza in December 1987. 

Of course, as anyone familiar with the uprising (from 1987 to around 1991) would know, characterizing it as an “unarmed rebellion” is extraordinarily misleading, as the intifada was violent from the start.  Whilst most people remember images of rock throwing Palestinian youths, in fact more than 3,600 Molotov cocktail attacks, 100 hand grenade attacks and 600 assaults with firearms were carried out during that time – violence directed at soldiers and civilians alike.

During this period, over 200 Israelis were killed by such terror attacks, and more than 1,400 Israeli civilians and 1,700 Israeli soldiers were injured.

Memorial for the 16 Israelis killed in first attempted suicide attack of 1st Intifada, in 1989. The attack occurred when the 405 bus from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was forced off the road by a Palestinian terrorist

And, much like the Second Intifada, Palestinian leaders played a lead role in orchestrating the violent insurrection.

Finally, Jews were not the only victims of the violence, as the number of Arabs summarily executed by Palestinian death squads exceeded the number killed in clashes with Israeli troops – incidents which included attacks with clubs, knives, axes, guns, and even acid.

Twenty years ago, the Guardian grossly misled readers about the nature of the First Intifada – a significant obfuscation thoroughly consistent with their broader pattern of running interference for the illiberal and violent nature of the Palestinian national movement.

Guardian Mid-East editor legitimizes the political pornography of Ali Abunimah

The Guardian’s Middle East Editor, Ian Black, provided an analysis of President Obama’s March 21 speech in Jerusalem (titled ‘Obama shows emotional and political intelligence with Jerusalem speech‘) which represents a good example the Guardian Left tendency to impute ‘authenticity’ to the most radical and uncompromising activists.  

This journalistic tick can be seen, for instance, in Harriet Sherwood’s decision to award ‘progressive’ Hechsher labels to both Joseph Dana and slain terror-abetting anti-Israel campaigner, Vittorio Arrigoni

Such political posturing also colored their coverage of the so-called ‘Palestine Papers’ in 2011, where Mahmoud Abbas’s putative flexibility during negotiations with Israel over the refugee issue was characterized as “craven” – as “selling out” Palestinian rights – in a series of reports which seemed to reflect the media group’s attempt to ‘out-Palestinian’ the Palestinians themselves. 

Their institutional tendency to promote a radical chic (and even terrorist-chic) brand is also evident in their frequent decisions to publish Islamist extremists, and the dearth of space they provide to peaceful and truly moderate two-state proponents.

In his March 21 report Black praised Obama’s speech at the Jerusalem Convention Center as “appealing to ordinary Israelis over the heads of their political leaders”, and as representing “a smart combination of emotional and political intelligence in pressing the buttons that matter to mainstream Jewish opinion in Israel.”

Palestinians, however, observed Black, were not impressed.  He noted that some Palestinians complained that Obama’s speech lacked depth or substance, before citing a critique by Ali Abunimah, the American born, Ivy League educated son of a Jordanian diplomat who founded ‘Electronic Intifada’ (EI) – and who, from his home in Chicago, engages in hate-filled “commentary” about the Jewish state with abandon.


Indeed, the Tweets by Abunimah (a former ‘Comment is Free’ contributor) cited in the following passage by Black are a fair representation of the activist’s social media style.

Black writes the following: 

Ali Abunimah, an outspoken critic of the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and a supporter of the one-state solution, tweeted in anger: “Palestinians yearning for peace live in a tough neighborhood, surrounded by racist settlers and a murderous US-backed sectarian ‘army.’ Obama’s ‘history’ of Israel is as delusional as his US history which still praises slave-owning, slave-raping founding fathers. This speech will drive liberal Zionists wild because it legitimizes their segregationist desires & dresses them up as ‘peace’ & ‘democracy.’”

The text cited, however, represents several separate Abunimah Tweets.  So, for clarity, here are the three (140 character or so) ‘meditations’ by Abunimah which the Guardian Middle East editor evidently found elucidating. 

Here are a few additional Tweets that day by Abunimah not cited by Black:

Zionist psychopaths: 

Israel slaughters children:

Israel is a “supremacist” state:

Though Abunimah blocks many pro-Israel activists from following him, it still isn’t difficult to locate his Twitter paper trail – which includes a tweet concerning the murder of Israelis by Hezbollah terrorists in Bulgaria in 2012, which clearly suggested a Mossad conspiracy,  and another one calling for Palestinians to start a 3rd Intifada.

However, Abunimah is no mere American pro-Palestinian activist.  He’s defended Hamas and has flirted with insidious Israel-Nazi analogies – once even Tweeting the following: 


The fact that the Guardian’s Middle East editor – who undoubtedly could have found a more moderate, lucid and truly peace-seeking pro-Palestinian critic to cite – decided to hitch his wagon to Abunimah’s hateful political brand is an apt commentary on the Guardian’s continuing  fealty to the most belligerent voices in the region.

Guardian editorial on Israeli vote ignores their own erroneous political predictions

While we’re quite accustomed to Guardian reporters and commentators completely re-writing Israeli history, an editorial on the results of the Israeli election re-writes their own history by ignoring their entire body of work on the subject prior to the Jan. 22 vote.

The official Guardian editorial, Israel: the new normal, is, to be sure, characteristically imperious and hubristic towards the “truculent” Jewish state, but also concedes – based on the likelihood that Netanyahu will be forming a centrist coalition – that “the Israeli voter rejected “the far right”.

However, the editorial also briefly touches on those political observers who didn’t for a second believe that the Israeli center would hold:

“In the end, the crown prince of Israeli politics was not the dotcom millionaire who would annex 60% of the West Bank. He was neither of the far nor the national religious right, as many had confidently predicted.”

So, who precisely were these arrogant prognosticators who got it so terribly wrong?

Here’s a graphic look back at the headlines and passages published by the media group which they may be referring to.


‘Comment is Free contributor, Rachel Shabi


Guardian’s Middle East Editor, Ian Black


Ian Black


Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent, Harriet Sherwood

black tweet

Ian Black is Gloomy and Inaccurate


Observer’s foreign affairs editor, Peter Beaumont


Again, Harriet Sherwood


Harriet Sherwood cites a piece by the New Yorker’s David Remnick,  to confirm Israel’s rightward shfit


Guardian journalist, Jonathan Freedland


Jonathan Freedland asks why the Israeli move right – which didn’t in fact happen – was happening.


Freedland also cites wisdom of ‘New Yorker’ contributor on Israel’s “endless” move right 


Once again, Harriet Sherwood

mid east

Guardian’s Middle East ‘Live’ Blog post edited by John Henley 


Guardian publishes two letters from readers affirming Guardian analysis of Israel’s move to the right

As Adam Garfinkle recently observed, in a thoughtful piece about coverage of the Algerian hostage crisis, much of the media often sees what they expect to see, and thus ignores all evidence that “does not fit with [their] framing of the situation”.

Whilst I’ve been following the Guardian far too long to be so foolish as to expect anything resembling a mea culpa from their editors in response to such an egregious misreading of the Israeli electorate, it would truly be a gift to their readers if they were to even briefly acknowledge the limits of their capacity to interpret Israeli political phenomena unfiltered by their preconceived, ideologically inspired, conclusions.

The Guardian gets it wrong: Exit polls indicate no rightward political shift in Israel

If exit polls (as reported by Times of Israel and other media outlets) turn out to be accurate, the Guardian mantra – parroted by nearly every commentator and reporter who’s been providing ‘analysis’ on the Israeli elections – warning of a hard and dangerous shift to the right will prove to have been entirely inaccurate.

In the final days before the vote, the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Harriet Sherwood seemed certain that the elections would bring “a more hawkish and pro-settler government“, and Guardian Middle East Editor Ian Black warned that “Netanyahu [was] poised to…head a more right-wing and uncompromising government than Israel has ever seen before“.

Rachel Shabi predicted that Israel would elect “the most right-wing government in its history“, while Jonathan Freedland expressed gloom that diaspora Jews would have to watch “the centre of gravity…shift so far rightward [in Israel] that Netanyahu and even Lieberman will look moderate by comparison.”

However, based on preliminary reports, not only does it appear that there has been absolutely no rightward shift, but the makeup of the next Knesset may be slightly more left than the current one.

While in 2009 the right-wing bloc bested the center-left bloc by 65-55, the tallies released tonight after polls closed in Israel at 10 PM showed that the new Knesset will have a narrower (61-59) right-bloc advantage.    


Screenshot from Israel’s Channel 2, showing 61-59 right-left split based on exit polling

According various exit polls, the top three parties will be Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu with 31 Knesset seats, the centrist Yesh Atid with 19, and the leftist Labor Party with between 16-18. The rightist party, Jewish Home, headed by Naftali Bennett, came in fourth and will have 13 or 14, while Shas, the ultra-orthodox party, came in fifth with 12.

Some Israeli commentators are already predicting that Binyamin Netanyahu will attempt to form a centrist or even a right-center-left coalition.

Though the final results aren’t expected to be announced until the early hours of Wednesday, a few things are certain:

The Guardian invested heavily in promoting their desired political narrative of a Jewish state lurching dangerously towards the right.  

They got it completely wrong.

They will learn absolutely nothing from their egregious miscalculation.


“Abu Nidal, Abu Shmidal”: Guardian Mid-East editor misleads on roots of ’82 Lebanon War

A February, 2012 piece by the Guardian’s Middle East editor, Ian Black, which attempted to draw an analogy between Israel’s 1982 war against the PLO in Lebanon and current tensions with Iran, suggested that both scenarios demonstrate the Israeli propensity to cynically use a phony “pretext” to start a dangerous war.

Black wrote the following in the final paragraphs of his story:

“…In June 1982 an assassination attempt on the Israeli ambassador to London by the renegade Palestinian faction led by the Iraqi-backed Abu Nidal provided the pretext for war against Yasser Arafat’s PLO in Lebanon, despite a ceasefire that had held for nearly a year. Ariel Sharon, then defence minister, was pressing to attack and persuaded the prime minister, Menachem Begin, to go ahead

“Abu Nidal, Abu Shmidal,” Begin reportedly replied as his security chiefs explained the crucial detail and significance of the London attack. Full scale invasion, thousands of dead and years of war and occupation were the result.” [emphasis added]

Black, evidently delighted by the chance to cite the alleged use, by an Israeli leader, of the Yiddish-inspired verbal tradition (using “sh” or “shm” to dismiss something with mockery) in order to, himself, dismiss Israel’s motivation for entering the war, evoked the the same alleged quote – which, interestingly, has alternately been attributed to Israel’s then army chief, Rafael Eitan – in his piece on Friday, ‘January 4, ‘Arabs are losing faith in America: Lessons from Lebanon 1982‘.

Black, in an effort to buttress his narrative that the ’82 war was the beginning of the Arabs’ disenchantment with an America unwilling, evidently, to check Israel’s reckless aggression with a stern and mighty hand, writes the following:

“The war began in a sense in London, where, on June 3, a Palestinian gunman shot the Israeli ambassador, Shlomo Argov. It was clear from the start that the hit team was not from the PLO but from the dissident Iraqi-backed outfit run by Abu Nidal, Yasser Arafat‘s sworn enemy. Israel‘s prime minister, Menachem Begin, egged on by his defence minister, Ariel Sharon, went to war against the PLO in Lebanon anyway. “Abu Nidal, Abu Shmidal,” another Israeli minister said.” [emphasis added]

Black’s breezy dismissal of Israel’s decision to enter the Lebanon Civil War (which, by 1982, had already been raging for seven years) is historically unserious.

No, the war didn’t, “in a sense”, start in London.

The roots of the Lebanon war lay in the bloody expulsion of the PLO from Jordan, their relocation to Lebanon in 1971 and subsequent attacks against the Jewish state by the Palestinian terrorist group.

In March 1978, PLO terrorists infiltrated Israel, hijacked a bus and ended up murdering 34 Israeli civilians on board.  In response, Israeli forces crossed into Lebanon and overran terrorist bases, pushing the PLO away from the southern border.  The IDF shortly withdrew and allowed UN forces to enter, but UN troops were unable to prevent PLO terrorists from re-infiltrating the region and acquiring new, and more dangerous arms. 

A series of PLO attacks and Israeli reprisals ended briefly due to a U.S. brokered ceasefire agreement in July 1981, but the PLO repeatedly violated the cease-fire over the ensuing 11 months(Between July 1981 and June 1982 26 Israelis were killed and 264 injured.)

Meanwhile, over 15,000 PLO fighters were encamped in locations throughout Lebanon, armed with an extensive cache of weaponry – which included mortars, Katyusha rockets, an antiaircraft network and even surface-to-air missiles.

Israel was unable to stem the growth of the PLO militia, and the frequency of the attacks had forced thousands of Israeli residents in the Galilee to flee their homes and take refuge in shelters.

So, while the final provocation occurred in June 1982 when a Palestinian terrorist group led by Abu Nidal attempted to assassinate Israel’s Ambassador to the UK, Black’s suggestion that Israel may have cynically exploited the assassination as a pretext break a peaceful “truce”, in order to launch an unnecessary war, is patently untrue.

The casus belli for Operation Peace for the Galilee was self-evident, building for years, and needed no “pretext”.

What country on earth would permit a terrorist group (with an increasingly deadly arsenal of weaponry) on its border to launch frequent terror attacks against its citizens without a robust military response?

Today, as in 1982, the Jewish state can not afford to shy away from confronting clear and present dangers it faces, and, more importantly, need not morally justify – to Ian Black and others who evidently fancy themselves sophisticated political sages – a robust defense of its national interests and its citizens’ lives.

Guardian’s obsessively critical coverage of E-1 construction proposal, by the numbers

News that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu announced the start of planning for home construction in the area known as E-1, between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim, received saturation coverage at the Guardian.

Between Dec. 1 and Dec. 4, the Guardian’s coverage included an official editorial, analysis by Middle East editor, Ian Black, reports by Harriet Sherwood, a ‘Live Blog‘ on the announcement and political fallout, a photo story and a video.

The coverage almost exclusively advanced the narrative that plans to eventually build homes in E-1 would represent a death knell to the Two State Solution, would literally cut the West Bank in two, and would deny access to eastern Jerusalem to West Bank Palestinians.

(Most of of these arguments were proven to be demonstrably false.)


E-1 in (yellow), between Jerusalem (light gray) and Ma’ale Adumim (purple)

Here’s a statistical and narrative summary of the Guardian’s coverage of E-1

  • Total number of words in Guardian reports, analyses and commentaries on E-1 : Nearly 8,000
  • Total number of separate reports or commentaries on E-1: 14 
  • Number of reports or commentaries which were mostly or entirely negative towards Israeli plans: 13*
  • Number of false allegations suggesting that E-1 construction would cut the West Bank in two, or would cut off eastern Jerusalem from the West Bank: 7
  • Number of times the above allegations, suggesting that E-1 would cut the WB in two, and cut eastern Jerusalem from the WB, were refuted by someone sympathetic to E-1: 1
  • Number of times it was argued that E-1 construction would make the creation of a viable and contiguous Palestinian state impossible or undermine the ‘Peace Process’: 30
  • Number of times the above allegations, suggesting that E-1 jeopardizes the ‘Peace Process’, were refuted:
  • Number of times it was noted that E-1 construction represented an Israeli consensus: 1

*Harriet Sherwood’s Dec. 3 report was somewhat balanced.

Guardian reviews of ‘Homeland’ reveal failure to understand antisemitic motives of extremists

The U.S. drama ‘Homeland’, based on the Israeli series Hatufim, was the subject of a column by Peter Beaumont on Oct. 13.  The series stars Claire Danes as a CIA officer who believes that a U.S. Marine held captive by Al-Qaeda as a POW was turned by the enemy and now threatens the U.S.

Though the show has received much critical acclaim, Beaumont (foreign affairs editor of the Observer, sister publication of the Guardian) published a piece, ‘Homeland is brilliant drama but does it present a crude image of Muslims, expressing a dissenting view.

Beaumont found the show’s depictions of Muslims “crude, childish, offensive” and “Islamophobic” which he blamed in part on the fact that the show was “rooted in its genesis as an Israeli drama, where the view of the surrounding neighborhood is more paranoid and defensive.”

Similarly, the Guardian’s Middle East editor, Ian Black, was also offended by the show. In ‘Homeland: does it give an accurate picture of Middle East politics?‘, Oct. 25, Black sums up his concerns, thus:

“Homeland purports to portray a nuanced version of the “war on terror” but the story is still told through a national security prism and (as Peter Beaumont pointed out recently in the Observer) with more than a touch of Islamophobia — from Brody’s badly pronounced “Allahu Akbar” while praying secretly in his garage, to the portrayal of all the Muslim characters as devious and cruel.

Strikingly, the cast has not (yet) included any Palestinians – important players in the contemporary Middle East. Like it or not their grievances are highly relevant to Arab/Muslim hostility to Israel and its US protectors. You don’t have to be Abu Nazir to observe that neither are simply the passive victims of evil and motiveless terrorists.”

In Beaumont’s narrative, Israelis possess a large degree of paranoia about Muslims, irrational hostility which arguably informs and influences the Islamophobia present in the American show.  And, for Black, the show’s failure stems from the absence of context which would instruct the viewer that Arab/Muslim violence can be explained, in large part, by legitimate Palestinian grievances against Israel.

Both Beaumont and Black illustrate the most glaring antisemitic habit present on the Guardian Left: the failure to take modern Jew hatred, manifested in Judeophobic propaganda throughout the Arab/Muslim world, or in terror attacks against Jewish targets, seriously as an unjustifiable form of racism.

The reason why the obscene, often demonic, portrayal of Jews – seen routinely in Arab and Muslim newspapers, caricatures, websites, TV news, films and educational materials - is almost never reported by the Guardian is arguably related to their belief that such hatred stems not from traditional antisemitism, but is merely a reaction to the politics of the Jewish state. 

The narrative which ties global antisemitism to Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians, which has its roots in the far left, has tragically found fertile ground within the mainstream left, and among Western policy makers.

Speaking at a Jewish conference on antisemitism organized by the European Jewish Union (EJU) last December, Howard Gutman, the US Ambassador to Belgium, argued that a distinction should be made between traditional antisemitism, which should be condemned, and Muslim hatred for Jews, which stems from the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Gutman’s stunning moral logic – echoing narratives advanced in the Guardian – posits that the West must be careful not to impute Jew hatred to Muslims in the Middle East whose animosity towards Jews may be merely informed by anti-Zionism.

Such rationales would suggest that demonic depictions of Jews, the belief in Jewish global conspiracies, Holocaust denial and blood libels should not be condemned as dangerous signs of cultural pathogens which evoke the darkest periods in antisemitic history, but, rather, should be contextualized – their “root causes” understood and rationalized.  

It’s as if imputing antisemitism to Muslims who express hatred towards Jews either demonstrates a lack of political sophistication or could even itself suggest a form of ‘Islamophobia’. 

Nobody with a good understanding of the history of antisemitism should be surprised that, once again, antisemitism has found fertile ground.

What is surprising, however, is that many of the most highly educated Western elites fail to understand the most fundamental lesson of centuries of anti-Judaism and antisemitism (and indeed on all forms of racism): that such hatred is always a commentary on the haters – their moral and intellectual failures – and never on the object of such hate.

In every generation there are those who find new reasons to engage in antisemitism, and there are those who will invariably argue that, this time, such hostility towards Jews may be justified – insidiously asking the question, in one form or another, “What have Jews done to make people hate them so much”?

Why does the Guardian get Middle East analysis wrong?

On June 17th the Guardian discovered that Iran was behind the bomb attacks in Thailand, Georgia and India four months ago, during which the wife of an Israeli diplomat was badly injured in Delhi, along with her driver. This news was brought to us by the Guardian’s correspondent in south Asia, Jason Burke, who also produced another two articles on the same subject. 

In light of this, it is interesting to remind ourselves of how the Guardian covered the events at the time. 

Harriet Sherwood was quick off the mark with an opening sentence claiming with startling certainty that the attacks were linked to the anniversary of the death of Imad Mughniyeh

“Israeli diplomatic missions in India and Georgia have been targeted in bomb attacks linked to the anniversary of the assassination of a Hezbollah militant in Lebanon four years ago.”

Ian Black appeared to chastise the Israeli Prime Minister for blaming Iran for the attacks and was also keen to advance the Mughniyeh theory:

“It came as little surprise that Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, blamed Iran and Hezbollah for Monday’s twin attacks – though he did so extremely swiftly and without any sign of hesitation.”

“Hezbollah also has a clear motive for revenge against Israel: Sunday was the fourth anniversary of the assassination of its operations chief, Imad Mughniyeh, in a highly professional car bombing in Damascus in 2008 that was widely blamed on the Mossad secret service. Israel has never admitted responsibility but it did little to hide its satisfaction at Mughniyeh’s violent demise and the chilling message it sent about its own long reach and deterrent power.”

In stark contrast to the Guardian’s apparent reluctance to accept Iranian involvement in the attacks, Black had no qualms about pointing evidence-free fingers elsewhere, with the possibility that a similar modus operandi in two cases might indicate the same perpetrator seemingly never occurring to him. 

“The use in Delhi of a sticky bomb attached to an Israeli embassy vehicle by a man riding a motorbike seemed to mimic the modus operandi used by Israel’s agents in Tehran. Hints, surely, do not come much heavier than that?”

Black’s disingenuous attempt to portray Israel as permanently spoiling for a fight is revealed in his penultimate paragraph: [emphasis added]

“Nor could the stakes be higher. In June 1982 an assassination attempt on the Israeli ambassador to London by the renegade Palestinian faction led by the Iraqi-backed Abu Nidal provided the pretext for war against Yasser Arafat’s PLO in Lebanon, despite a ceasefire that had held for nearly a year.” 

In fact, repeated violations of the 1981 US-brokered cease-fire (which was 11 months old by the time Operation ‘Peace for the Galilee’ began on June 6th 1982) resulted in the deaths of 29 Israelis and the wounding of some 300 others in 270 terror attacks staged by the PLO. On the day of May 9th, 1982 alone, for example, some 100 rockets were fired over a period of 24 hours by PLO terrorists in Lebanon at villages in the Galilee region of the north of Israel. But that, according to the Guardian’s Middle East Editor Ian Black, did not break the ceasefire. 

However, by far the most egregious article of all in the Guardian coverage of the February 2012 attacks was the piece it ran on ‘Comment is Free’ on February 15th by Arshin Adib-Moghaddan, entitled “Iran seems an unlikely culprit for the attacks on Israeli diplomats“. 

Adib-Moghaddan’s somewhat pitiful attempts to blame anyone and everyone except Iran for the attacks in India, Thailand and Georgia were addressed at the time here, here and, very comprehensively by an Iranian writer, here

So why did the Guardian get it so wrong? Why did it engage in these contortions, trying to shoe-horn the facts into its own existing narrative? And why did it publish the risible Adib-Moghaddan article which was bound to raise howls of disdainful laughter from anyone who is not a shill for the Iranian regime?  

Well, somehow, Adib-Moghaddan’s Guardian profile neglects to mention that in addition to his day job at the SOAS, he is also active in  the Iranian regime’s puppet organization known as CASMII (Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran). 

CASMII is of course much beloved by the Stop the War Coalition and its founder Abbas Edalat spoke at the StWC conference in 2012. In 2010 (and not for the first time) the StWC adopted a CASMII-proposed resolution at its annual conference (at which the Guardian’s Seumas Milne was a speaker) and the two organisations frequently work together, with CASMII having a representative on the StWC steering committee.   Seumas Milne of course makes regular appearances on behalf of the Stop the War Coalition at its rallies, events and conferences

What Guardian editors and journalists do in their spare time is no doubt their own affair, but nevertheless it seems highly likely that the fact that so many of them seem to hang around on the extremist fringes of political opinion has an effect upon the paper’s ability to get things right and its editorial decisions, as this particular case indicates. 

It is therefore perhaps little wonder that increasing numbers of the British public perceive the Guardian’s Middle East analysis and reporting as being virtually indistinguishable from the kind of propaganda put out on the websites of extremist organisations such as CASMII, StWC or the PSC. 


Iran, Lebanon and tortured political analogies: Ian Black’s Israeli caricature

Ian Black

The latest report by the Guardian’s Middle East editor, Ian Black, Feb. 13, is titled “Israeli embassy attacks in Delhi and Tblisi could set off conflagration“.

Black’s analysis attempts to contextualize the recent attack on the Israeli embassy in India, and the thwarted attack in Georgia, (likely committed by Iran or Hezbollah) with the “ongoing campaign of sabotage and assassination against [Iranian] scientists” working on a nuclear programme”.

Black characterizes such covert acts as representing a “highly volatile element in an extremely unstable landscape.”

Adds Black:

Against a background of extraordinary turbulence across the Middle East, the Israeli-Iranian confrontation is by far the most dangerous element.

Black’s analysis of the Iranian-Israeli conflict includes the following:

  • A requisite obfuscation over Iran’s nuclear intentions.  Black non-judgmentally contrasts Iran’s insistence that its program is peaceful with “Israel and western countries adamant [that it] is not”, failing to cite the latest IAEA report, available on the Guardian website, which states: “the information indicates that Iran has carried out…a structured program…to develop an explosive nuclear device.”
  • The suggestion that Iranian attacks on Israeli targets are justified: Black quotes a former British diplomat accusing Israel of “international state terrorism [which] invit[es] a response. It looks like a further twist that will lead to a tit-for-tat.”

However, the most egregious distortion in Black’s report is the historical analogy he attempts to draw in the penultimate paragraph, suggesting that Israel is looking for a “pretext” to war.

Nor could the stakes be higher [for the Middle East]. In June 1982 an assassination attempt on the Israeli ambassador to London by the renegade Palestinian faction led by the Iraqi-backed Abu Nidal provided the pretext for war against Yasser Arafat’s PLO in Lebanon, despite a ceasefire that had held for nearly a year. Ariel Sharon, then defence minister, was pressing to attack and persuaded the prime minister, Menachem Begin, to go ahead

Full scale invasion, thousands of dead and years of war and occupation were the result.

Black’s characterization of the cause of the 1982 war, about which he attempts to draw an analogy to the current crisis, is grossly ahistorical.

The roots of the Lebanon war lay in the bloody expulsion of the PLO from Jordan, the terror group’s relocation to Lebanon in 1971 and subsequent staging of hundreds of terrorist acts across Israel’s northern border.

In March 1978, PLO terrorists infiltrated Israel, hijacked a bus and ended up murdering 34 Israeli civilians on board.

In response, Israeli forces crossed into Lebanon and overran terrorist bases, pushing the PLO away from the southern border.

The IDF shortly withdrew and allowed UN forces to enter, but UN troops were unable, or unwilling, to prevent PLO terrorists from re-infiltrating the region and introducing new, and more dangerous arms – a striking similarity to the complete failure of UNIFIL troops to keep southern Lebanon free of Hezbollah weaponry, per their mandate under UN Resolution 1701, following the 2nd Lebanon War in 2006.

Violence escalated with a series of PLO attacks and Israeli reprisals, which culminated n a U.S. brokered cease­fire agreement in July 1981.

However, the PLO repeatedly violated the cease-fire over the ensuing 11 months, carrying out terror assaults from Jordanian territory. (Between July 1981 and June 1982 26 Israelis were killed and 264 injured.)

Meanwhile, a force of over 15,000 PLO members was encamped in of locations throughout Lebanon, including thousands of foreign mercenaries. Israel later discovered an extensive cache of weaponry – which included mortars, Katyusha rockets and an anti­aircraft network. The PLO also brought hundreds of T­34 tanks into the area, and even surface-to-air missiles.

Israeli commando raids were unable to stem the growth of the PLO army, the of frequency of attacks forced thousands of Israeli residents in the Galilee to flee their homes and spend large amounts of time in bomb shelters.

So, while the final provocation occurred in June 1982 when a Palestinian terrorist group led by Abu Nidal attempted to assassinate Israel’s Ambassador to the UK, Black’s suggestion that Israel cynically used the assassination as a pretext break a peaceful “truce”, in order to launch an unnecessary war, is patently untrue.

What country on earth would permit a terrorist group (with an increasingly deadly arsenal of weaponry) on its border to launch frequent terror attacks against its citizens without a robust military response?

In fact, the important historical analogy with Iran today and the PLO in the early 1980s, which the Guardian’s Middle East editor fails to observe, is that Israel is again faced with increasingly well-equipped terrorist militias on their borders (Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad) – with funds, training and increasingly sophisticated weaponry provided directly by the regime in Tehran.

Every cross border raid, every missile attack, and every attempt to abduct Israeli soldiers by Iranian proxy armies in Lebanon and Gaza over the years have represented acts of war – military aggression by an Islamist state which is attempting to develop nuclear devices, producing rockets capable of delivering such a lethal payload, and whose leadership has provided explicit religious justifications for the use of weapons of mass destruction on Jewish civilians.

Black’s last paragraph included the following, which he no doubt views as an incriminating quote by Menachem Begin, to buttress the overriding narrative of an Israeli state determined to use any pretext to ignite a dangerous regional conflagration.

Abu Nidal, Abu Shmidal,” [Menachem] Begin reportedly replied as his security chiefs explained the crucial detail and significance of the London attack. 

However, those of us who understand the circumstances of Israel’s wars against hostile state and non-state actors since its founding  (be it Nasser, the PLO, Hezbollah, Hamas or Iran) are not swayed by Black’s crude caricature of an Israeli antagonist.  We read the attributed quote and see an Israeli leader who understood that his first role was to protect his nation from harm, and that the threat posed by a well-equipped military force reigning terror down on Israeli civilians more than justified an assertive military response.

The casus belli for Operation Peace for the Galilee was self-evident, building for years, and needed no “pretext”.

The antagonists have changed, but Israeli leaders today similarly face a very real threat by an even more powerful foe.

Today, as in 1982, the Jewish state will not shy away from confronting clear and present dangers it faces, and need not morally justify – to Ian Black or others who fancy themselves sophisticated, dispassionate political sages – its fierce and unapologetic defense of its national interests, and its citizen’s lives. 

Israeli minister summons Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood to protest publication of pro-terrorism letter

Yuli Edelstein, Israel’s Minister for Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, on Thursday, instructed the Government Press Office (GPO) to summon the Guardian’s correspondent in Israel to protest a letter published in the paper which justified terrorism.  (See CiF posts, here, here, and here).

As we noted previously, the letter, by Ted Honderich, a professor of philosophy at University College London, made the case that the Guardian’s “Palestine Papers” showed that Israel was such a morally indecent nation that:

“The Palestinians have a moral right to their terrorism within historic Palestine…Terrorism, as in this case, can as exactly be self-defence, a freedom struggle, martyrdom, the conclusion of an argument based on true humanity.”

Edelstein wrote Guardian editor Ian Black to express his outrage that his newspaper would publish a letter that calls for the murder of innocent civilians. He asked that Black print an apology and clarification stating that the newspaper did not condone terrorism in any form and did not consider it a legitimate tool in a struggle for freedom.

Edelstein also instructed GPO head Oren Helman to “urgently summon”Guardian correspondent Harriet Sherwood to discuss the letter. (Apparently, however, Sherwood is currently in Egypt.)

Coming on top of the heated criticism by Ron Prosor, Israel’s Ambassador to the UK, of the Guardian’s commentary of the “Palestine Papers” (which, Prosor said, was so sympathetic to extremism it risked “out-Hamasing Hamas”) it appears that the Israeli government has made a decision to rightly “name and shame” the Guardian for their egregious anti-Israel agenda – an ideological orientation which increasingly seems sympathetic to the most radical, not to mention reactionary, violent movements.

While we eagerly await Ian Black’s reply to Edelstein, the paper’s Readers’ Editor, Chris Elliott – as we noted previously – already offered a curious response to criticism over their decision to publish the letter by Honderich.

Elliott said:

“It is the policy of the Guardian not to publish letters advocating violence against others…”

But, then, justifying the letter, he argued:

[Honderich] is not advocating suicide bombing, he is questioning how it is regarded by most people in the west, and how it might be seen as something other than terrorism by people in other places and circumstances.

However, this argument ignores the wording of Honderich’s letter, which (as we’ve noted) wasn’t some philosophical meditation on the ethics of war and conflict but, rather, a specific reply to the “revelations” of the “Palestine Papers” – which Honderich argued provided moral justification for specific acts of terrorism against Israeli men, women, and children.

In other words, contrary to Elliott’s defense – and regardless of the defense that may be provided by Ian Black or anyone else at the Guardian – no amount of sophistry or obfuscation can change the fact that Honderich’s letter was solely addressing (and sanctioning) acts of murder in a particular country and against a specific group – Israeli Jews.

While we’re heartened to see that more and more people, from across the political spectrum, are beginning to realize how morally reprehensible the Guardian’s commentary on Israel truly is, there is no sign at this point that their correspondents, editors, or management are any closer to engaging in any serious reflection on the issue.

In other words, regardless of the facts and consequences of their behavior, their ideology is far too rigid and, seemingly, ingrained in their company’s culture for us to expect any growth or understanding.

It’s certainly interesting that a newspaper which so fancies itself as an agent of change in the world – one which “speaks truth to power” –  has become what they supposedly are dedicated to fighting: A behemoth far too crippled by their own hubris to be open to true reform or self-examination – an orientation, it should be noted, which is decidedly illiberal.

Guardian claim about Livni in Palestine Papers contradicted by their own document

H/T Elder of Ziyon:

More and more, the story of the Palestine Papers is not what may have been revealed in the negotiations but, rather, the Guardian’s capacity to distort almost any nugget of information in a way which confirms their worldview.

In “Papers reveal how Palestinian leaders gave up fight over refugees” written by Ian Black and Seumas Milne – another perfect example of what Melanie Phillips aptly termed the Guardian’s tendency to try to seem “more Palestinian than the Palestinians” – was this:

[Tzipi] Livni told Palestinian negotiators in 2007 that she was against international law and insisted that it could not be included in terms of reference for the talks: “I was the minister of justice”, she said. “But I am against law – international law in particular.”

Except that, as the following transcript shows, the document clearly contradicts this characterization of Livni’s’ remarks.

Livni opens the meeting: I would like to suggest that we will continue according to what I tried to at the beginning of the session yesterday, but unfortunately while doing so we ended up in some sort of a discussion. At the end of today’s meeting the minimum that is required is some sense of the six or seven points that you stated that need to be in the document. Just [a] list [of] what is agreed or not agreed. Put aside the core issues for now, just have a list of agreed and not agreed, in points. If we have this agreement… let’s not include the areas of disagreement now.

Ahmed Qurei: We can finish tonight the subjects – the preamble. What are the components. Not the language or the nice words etc. We should focus on three things in the preamble. One is the terms of reference [“TOR”]. The three core elements in addition to the [nice] language. One is the TOR. Second is the 2 state solution. Third is the Roadmap [“RM”]. Is there anything to be added to the preamble?

Livni: No – it’s ok. And what we called before some good words. The basic idea of where we are going. End of conflict, [the goal is] to find a way to do so… something like this.

So if you want to summarize the positions, this is something we did in our former conversation. When it comes to the TOR we want reference to 242, 338, the RM and other agreements agreed between the two sides. You added, and this is the problem, the API [Arab Peace Initiative], international law, 1515, 1397, and 194. And we wanted the three principles of the Quartet.

[more discussion of what should be included in the Terms of Reference and Preamble for the document]

Qurei: International law?

Livni: NO. I was the Minister of Justice. I am a lawyer…But I am against law — international law in particular. Law in general.

If we want to make the agreement smaller, can we just drop some of these issues? Like international law, this will make the agreements easier.

Livni’s “I am against law” remark is merely signaling that she does not want any reference to legal issues, or international law, in the joint (ceremonial) statement, so that a final peace agreement will be easier to achieve.

In other words, the Guardian buried the lead of this particular story which should have read something like: “Document shows Tzipi Livni flexible, and committed to achieving a peace deal.”

Beyond burying the lead, the Palestine Papers reveal the Guardian doing what they do best: burying facts which contradict their preconceived conclusions.