One sentence by the Guardian’s Mid-East editor explains their coverage of the war

 To date, the Guardian’s coverage of the war has revealed the following:

  • A focus on claims of Israeli war crimes, and silence concerning Hamas’s widespread (and well-documented) illegal use of human shields.
  • The acceptance of Palestinians claims (about the number of civilians casualties, for instance) at face value.
  • A dearth of commentaries (at their blog, Comment is Free, political cartoons, etc.) that are critical of Hamas.

Indeed, one sentence in a July 23rd article (UN human rights body to investigate claims of Israeli violations in Gaza) written by the Guardian’s Middle East editor, Ian Black, arguably helps explains at least the last dynamic we cited.

While providing analysis on the predictable decision by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) “to launch an international inquiry into violations” against Israel, Black makes the following observation about demands to end Israel’s blockade.  

“Pillay [the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights] also called for an end to the blockade of Gaza, the underlying reason for the conflict and an issue that will have to be tackled if any ceasefire is to endure.”

So, Israel’s legal Naval blockade of weapons to Gaza, according to the Guardian’s senior Middle East editor, represents the “underlying reason for the conflict” between Israel and Hamas!  

Does it really need to be pointed out that the blockade is meant to curtail the terrorist group’s capacity to import deadly weapons into the strip and that, in lieu of such restrictions, Hamas would be free to acquire even more accurate and deadly weapons than they’re using in the current war?

Does Black honestly believe that Hamas leaders truly only desire an end to the blockade in order to provide a better standards of living for Gazans?

Does Black not know that Hamas has diverted tens of millions of dollars in imported cement and other construction materials (supposedly meant for “humanitarian projects” such as roads, schools and clinics) to construct terror tunnels and other weapons of war?

However, beyond the specifics of the blockade and Black’s absurd reduction of the conflict, it’s amazing that such putatively sophisticated journalists fail to understand the blockade is the result of Hamas’s aggression, not its cause.  

It all seems to come down to an intellectually crippling political correctness which insists upon imputing reasonableness to even the most malevolent political actors.

Such absurd moral equivalencies are what drive Guardian editors to continually fail to even note that the Sunni Islamist group (the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood) is an extremist organization, one which oppresses women and gays, shuns democratic values, rejects the very idea of peace with the Jewish State, and promotes the most virulent form of antisemitism, which includes explicit incitement to engage in the mass murder of Jews.

Hamas’s reactionary politics  – their contempt for modern notions of tolerance, freedom, individual rights and the sanctity of human life – is of course the underlying cause of the conflict, and it continually baffles us how such putatively anti-racists can’t morally distinguish between antisemitic extremists and the Jews they’re trying so desperately to kill. 

If Palestinians don’t respect 6 million murdered Jews, how can they co-exist with 6 million living ones?

UK media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict typically imputes good faith to Palestinians – operating under the premise that most truly want a peaceful resolution with the Jewish State.

However, what if this assumption is misplaced?  

How would media coverage of  boycotts, lawfare and other forms of Palestinian ‘resistance‘ change if journalists took seriously the possibility that the Palestinians’ end goal was not to live in peace with their neighbors, but, rather, perpetual war, the only desirable end result being the elimination of the Jewish state?

Well, an independent Catholic news site asked that very question (Do Palestinians Want Peace?, June 19), in the context of linking to a Guardian report by their Middle East editor Ian Black about the forced resignation of a Palestinian professor who led a group of his students on a trip to Auschwitz.

Black – as Guardian editors are wont to do – framed the depressing episode, in which a Palestinian professor was vilified for merely attempting to evoke sympathy amongst Palestinians for Jewish victims of Hitler’s genocide, as a story of ‘competing narratives of victimization.

Black:

Dajani resigned from his post at Jerusalem’s Al-Quds University this week after failing to win the unequivocal support of his employers in a row which highlighted the darkest taboos of the conflict with Israel and each side’s enduring sense of victimhood.

The visit to the concentration camp was part of a project to study the Holocaust and teach tolerance and empathy. “It is about understanding the other,” Dajani told the Guardian during a conference in the Qatari capital, Doha. “You need to understand the other because reconciliation is the only option we have. And the sooner we do it the better. Empathising with your enemy does not mean you sanction what your enemy is doing to you.”

Organised in conjunction with three other universities, one German and two Israeli, the project also arranged for Israeli students to meet Palestinians living in refugee camps.

Dajani faced abuse, intimidation and death threats over the visit. Al-Quds dissociated itself from the project but defended his right to be involved. It insisted he had not been dismissed and supplied him with bodyguards. But in the end it accepted his resignation.

Implacable in the face of the uproar, he rejected accusations that he intended to promote the Zionist narrative of the conflict rather than respecting the primacy of the Nakba (“catastrophe” in Arabic) – the flight, expulsion and dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians that was the price of Israel’s independence in 1948.

Black then adds his own spin:

Propaganda that conflates antisemitism with opposition to Israel has also played a role. Israel’s foreign minister, Abba Eban, famously talked about the country’s “Auschwitz borders”. Menachem Begin, the prime minister who invaded Lebanon in 1982, described Arafat “cowering in his bunker” in Beirut like Hitler in Berlin.

Indeed, it’s the line about ‘conflating antisemitism with opposition to Israel’ where Black loses the plot and promotes the Guardian narrative – one which suggests that Jews cry antisemitism in the face of ‘mere’ anti-Zionism, or, in its more troubling form, that Jews cry antisemitism with the cynical intent of deflecting criticism of Israeli policies (The Livingstone Formulation).

However, a more holistic understanding of Palestinian attitudes – one which takes into account empirical data on Palestinian attitudes about Jews and Israel – would lead those not swayed by such pronounced ideological biases to contextualize the Palestinians’ “resistance” to Holocaust education in a much different way.  

We’re alluding to a recent survey commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League demonstrating that Palestinians have the highest rates of antisemitic attitudes in the world – a survey consistent with polls about antisemitism conducted in previous years by Pew Global .

Here are the highlights from the ADL survey which, let’s remember, did NOT ask any questions about Palestinian attitudes about Israeli policy:

  • 88% of Palestinians believe Jews have too much control over global affairs.
  • 88% of Palestinians believe that Jews have too much control over the global media
  • 78% of Palestinians believe that Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars.

But, perhaps most troubling – even worse than the belief that Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars (an attitude consistent with libels found in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion) – is the following:

  • 87% of Palestinians believe that people hate Jews because of the way Jews behave.

Of course, on one hand, it likely stands to reason that those who believe that Jews control the world would justify ‘hatred of Jews’ by explaining it as a rational reaction to Jewish villainy.  However, there’s a more important point about the 87% of Palestinians who believe that Jews are hated because of the way Jews behave, one which relates to Black’s article about Palestinian rejection of the ‘Holocaust narrative’.

Even the most parve forms of Holocaust education begin with the premise that 6 million murdered Jews were innocent victims of a grotesque manifestation of anti-Jewish racism, and that there is no justification whatsoever for the crimes committed in the name of Nazi ideology.

So, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Palestinians – who believe, per the poll results, that their own acceptance of historic antisemitic canards about Jewish perfidy is justified as a rational response to Jewish behavior – would reject efforts to encourage them to accept a Holocaust ‘narrative’ premised on Jewish innocence.

The manner in which Palestinians relate to the Holocaust has significance for those who wish to understand Israelis’ nuanced views of efforts to achieve a two state solution.  Though the overwhelming majority of Israelis accept in principle a two-state solution, most are also skeptical, in light of the persistent problem of Palestinian incitement, terror glorification and antisemitism, that two states will actually result in peace.

Even if a treaty is signed by the two parties, why are we expected to possess confidence that Palestinians will stop inculcating their children with the values of resistance, and truly see the agreement as a final end to all historical claims?

Finally, what, in light of the Palestinian rejection of even the most benign efforts to humanize six million murdered Jews, should provide us with hope that a piece of paper signed by Palestinian leaders will actually result, after seven decades of hostility, in a diminution of Palestinians antipathy towards the Jewish other, and create a society which humanizes – and accepts the existence of – six million living Jews?

Whilst it is perhaps not surprising that UK journalists – those with the luxury of dealing with such matters as amorphous political abstractions –  uniformly ignore such questions, those of us who will have to live the real-world consequences of Palestinian sovereignty cannot breezily dismiss this seemingly immutable Palestinian enmity, nor allow ourselves to be seduced by the chimera of peace.

Lyn Julius replies to the Guardian’s whitewash of the ethnic cleansing of Jews

On May 4th we posted about an article by Guardian Middle East editor Ian Black that whitewashed the radical anti-Israel agenda of the NGO, Zochrot.  However, what we didn’t address at the time was Black’s characteristic whitewash of the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Arab lands in the following passage of the article:

Zochrot’s focus on the hyper-sensitive question of the 750,000 Palestinians who became refugees has earned it the hostility of the vast majority of Israeli Jews who flatly reject any Palestinian right of return. Allowing these refugees – now, with their descendants, numbering seven million people – to return to Jaffa, Haifa or Acre, the argument goes, would destroy the Jewish majority, the raison d’etre of the Zionist project. (Israelis often also suggest an equivalence with the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees who lost homes and property after 1948 in Arab countries such as Iraq and Morocco – although their departure was encouraged and facilitated by the young state in the 1950s.)

We were going to comment on Black’s historical revisionism today when we learned that Lyn Julius - one of the more knowledgeable commentators on the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab countries – had submitted a letter to the Guardian in response which (unsurprisingly) the paper declined to publish.  

Here’s her letter:

Ian Black’s article (Remembering the Nakba: Israeli group puts 1948 back on the map) promotes a fringe Israeli NGO’s sick objective: the destruction of the state of Israel through the Palestinian ‘right of return’, while virtually ignoring the ‘Jewish Nakba’ of 856,000 Jewish refugees from Arab countries at the same time.

Wringing their hands about depopulated Palestinian villages, Zochrot remain ignorant, silent and unmoved by the depopulation of scores of Arab cities of their age-old Jewish communities.

There are almost no Jews living in Baghdad, Alexandria, Tripoli, Sana’a and Damascus  today. While the Palestinians were the tragic by-product of a war their leadership launched and lost, a larger number of Jews became refugees through an Arab policy of scapegoating and ethnic cleansing.

The mass airlifts of these persecuted Jews to Israel were in fact rescue missions.

Antisemitism prevents any possible return of Jews to Arab countries.

Imagine if a Zochrot equivalent operated in Baghdad, where Jews were once the largest single ethnic group.

On second thoughts, don’t. The Jews would be run out of the city and would be lucky to escape with their lives.

Finally, here’s a graph by the group ‘Justice for Jews from Arab countries‘ quantifying the extent of the forced Jewish exodus.

main facts

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Want the Jewish state wiped off the map? Guardian approved NGO has an app for that!

Ian Black, the Guardian’s Middle East editor, wrote the following in a May 2nd article titled “Remembering the Nakba: Israeli group puts 1948 Palestine back on the map‘:

In a run-down office in the busy centre of Tel Aviv, a group of Israelis are finalising preparations for this year’s independence day holiday. But their conversation – switching between Arabic and Hebrew – centres not on celebrating the historic realisation of the Zionist dream in May 1948, but on the other side of the coin: the flight, expulsion and dispossession that Palestinians call their catastrophe – the Nakba.

Maps, leaflets and posters explain the work of Zochrot – Hebrew for “Remembering”. The organisation’s mission is to educate Israeli Jews about a history that has been obscured by enmity, propaganda and denial for much of the last 66 years.

Next week, Zochrot, whose activists include Jews and Palestinians, will connect the bitterly contested past with the hi-tech present. Its i-Nakba phone app will allow users to locate any Arab village that was abandoned during the 1948 war on an interactive map, learn about its history (including, in many cases, the Jewish presence that replaced it), and add photos, comments and data.

It is all part of a highly political and inevitably controversial effort to undo the decades-long erasure of landscape and memory – and, so the hope goes, to build a better future for the two peoples who share a divided land.

Further in the article, Black alludes to the fact that Zochrot’s plans to “build a better future” in the region include an unlimited Palestinian ‘right of return':

Zochrot’s focus on the hyper-sensitive question of the 750,000 Palestinians who became refugees has earned it the hostility of the vast majority of Israeli Jews who flatly reject any Palestinian right of return. Allowing these refugees – now, with their descendants, numbering seven million people – to return to Jaffa, Haifa or Acre, the argument goes, would destroy the Jewish majority, the raison d’être of the Zionist project

Black’s use of the term “Zionist project” is of course quite telling.

As David Hirsh noted in an essay at Fathom, though in the decades prior to 1948 opposing the ‘Zionist project’ (anti-Zionism) was debatable even among fierce opponents of antisemitism, after ’48 such a position became a “programme for the destruction of an actually existing nation-state”.

Indeed, Zochrot (an NGO heavily funded by several European governments) quite openly seeks a one-state solution through the ‘right of return” for millions of Palestinians who claim to be descended from refugees from ’48.  Even more disturbingly, the group’s founder has written the following about his vision of the future:

When the refugees return, Jews will become a minority in the country.  Israel as a Jewish state will change radically, and it will no longer be defined as such.  Jews will no longer be able to determine their future…by themselves…. There may be Jews, most of them of European origin, who won’t be able to adjust to a non-Zionist reality, and prefer to use their other passport to move elsewhere…”

One of the more troubling elements of the Guardian’s coverage of the region is their propensity to legitimize one-state advocates – editors, reporters and commentators who’ve learned nothing from the dark history of antisemitism in the 20th century and somehow reconcile their putatively ‘liberal’ politics with plans to render 40 percent of the world’s Jews powerless, and dependent upon the whims and wishes of a hostile Arab majority.

Or – the argument goes – they can ‘move elsewhere’.

Though the Guardian may not typically trade in crude Judeophobic tropes, they can’t cry foul when accused of at least abetting antisemitism for continually endorsing reactionary political actors who seek to annul the fundamental Jewish right to self-determination and thus jeopardizing millions of Jewish lives. 

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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:

update

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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:

corex

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:

jlem

And, now:

new-jlem

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.

knesset

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.

archive

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.

ali

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: 

nazi

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.

1

‘Comment is Free contributor, Rachel Shabi

2

Guardian’s Middle East Editor, Ian Black

9

Ian Black

4

Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent, Harriet Sherwood

black tweet

Ian Black is Gloomy and Inaccurate

5

Observer’s foreign affairs editor, Peter Beaumont

6

Again, Harriet Sherwood

sherwood

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

8

Guardian journalist, Jonathan Freedland

replacement

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

freedland

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

new

Once again, Harriet Sherwood

mid east

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

letters

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.    

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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.)

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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”?