IDF official slams Australian report suggesting Palestinian kids were tortured

My colleague Tamar Sternthal published a superb response at CAMERA to wild allegations in a Feb. 10th Australia Broadcasting Corporation Four Corners” report concerning the alleged torture of Palestinian children during interrogation.  

Here’s an excerpt:

“Simply fictitious,” responded a senior Israel Defense Forces official when asked about allegations leveled in a Feb. 10, 2014 Australia Broadcasting Corporation “Four Corners” report concerning brutal torture of Palestinian children during interrogations.

In contravention of journalistic codes of ethics, reporter John Lyons never gave Israeli officials the opportunity to respond specifically to the alleged instances of extreme abuse described. CAMERA, therefore, checked with Israeli authorities, reaching a high-level official intimately knowledgeable about the minors interviewed in the “Stone Cold Justice” broadcast.

One of them, Fathi Mahfouz, who was arrested on April 10, 2013 at the age of 15, and held for 82 days, claimed on camera that during his interrogation he had been hung from a cross-like structure for hours and beaten, and had been subjected to hitting and electric batons.

Another child, Qsai Zamara, alleged that his 18-day nightmare at the age of 14 included an interrogation in which he was whipped with a hose and threatened with electrocution.

About these two children, the IDF official stressed that they had never made these claims in court. Mahfouz appeared in court one day after his April 10 arrest, and he returned to court again on April 14 when he entered into a plea bargain, confessing to the crime for which he had been indicted, which was throwing rocks at military vehicles and personnel from a distance of 15 meters during a wide scale demonstration. During these two appearances, he never raised any allegations of being suspended from a cross or being beaten. “The only claim [of abuse] he made in court was on the 14th that the border policeman who arrested him in some way injured him and the court ordered that a protocol of a hearing be sent to the internal affairs office of the police, part of the Justice Ministry, for investigation.”

“Never once did he make a claim regarding his interrogation at any stage,” added the official, who confirmed that Mahfouz was represented by a lawyer in court.

Similarly, Zamara never voiced claims of torture during his court appearances. He was arrested on April 22, 2013, and brought to court the following day for a remand hearing in which he was represented by a lawyer. Three pages of arguments were made on the April 23 hearing, and “never once does he mention the terrible torture he [later said he] was subjected to.” On April 25, he again appeared in court when his indictment was filed. Any alleged torture that took place during interrogations would have happened in this window of time, and yet “never once had Zamara claimed that he had been so viciously attacked or tortured.”

It’s unbelievable that now, 10 months afterwards, he’s making these amazing claims of what happened to him,” stated the incredulous official.

Read the rest of Sternthal’s post, here.

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Qalandiya “Martyrdom”: Harriet Sherwood Tweets from the Palestinian street

Several Palestinian rioters were reportedly killed this morning after Israeli border police were ambushed while attempting to arrest a terror suspect in Qalandiya, north of Jerusalem. A Border Police spokesperson reported that during the anti-terror operation over “1,500 Palestinians poured into the streets and attacked the officers with firebombs and rocks.”

The IDF said soldiers rushed to the scene after the Border Police officers came under attack, and that soldiers opened fire after they felt their lives were in “imminent danger.”

A video uploaded onto YouTube today appeared to show Palestinians on rooftops in Qalandiya raining down rocks and other objects on Border Police vehicles during the incident.

Whilst we of course await Harriet Sherwood’s report on the incident, which the Guardian has thus far only covered via AP, here are her Tweets evidently live from the scene:

At 1:44 PM, ‘martyrdom’ had been officially confirmed.

Sounds Israeli: The music of ‘Fools of Prophecy’

I had the pleasure of seeing the band Shotei Hanevuah (Fools of Prophecy) perform live during my first and only trip to Israel prior to making Aliyah, and I’ll likely forever associate their sound – a fusion of dub reggae, hip-hop, dance and eastern Mediterranean music - with the magical time when I first fell in love with Eretz Yisrael.

Here’s a very raw version of their hit song ‘Ein Ani‘, performed in front of an IDF unit in 2012.

Pallywood Light: Guardian video claiming to show ‘Jews attacking Palestinians’ fails to deliver

Following the murder of an Israeli man, 32-year-old Evyatar Borovsky, by a Palestinian terrorist in a stabbing attack at a bus stop in the northern West Bank on Tuesday, the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood reported on the incident, as well as on subsequent retaliatory attacks by “Jewish settlers”.  

The Jewish ‘attacks’ evidently occurred near the Yitzhar community where Borovsky lived, as well as in the Palestinian villages of Burin, Hawara, and Orif – and a nearby highway (route 60). According to multiple reports, some Israelis threw rocks at Palestinians and some set Palestinian fields ablaze.

The claim that there were some retaliatory attacks by Jews following Borovsky’s murder doesn’t appear to be in doubt.

However, the Guardian also published a video story on May 1, with the following title:


Here’s the video caption:

A group of masked Jewish settlers set fire to a house and fields across villages in the West Bank before attacking Palestinians. Palestinian villagers clash with the settlers on a hill overlooking the village of Orif. Israeli soldiers arrive to disperse the crowd with stun grenades. The attack was in retaliation to the killing of Israeli settler Eviatar [sic] Borovsky

However, upon viewing the one minute and six second Guardian video, we couldn’t help but notice the absence of any clips actually showing ‘Jewish settlers attacking Palestinians’, despite text on the bottom of the screen at various moments stating that such attacks were taking place.

Here’s the video in its entirety.

Here’s what we just saw:

  • Israeli soldiers on patrol
  • Israeli soldiers talking to what appear to be Palestinians
  • Tear gas and stun grenades are employed by Israeli forces
  • A Palestinian man (at the 54 second mark), purportedly injured, being carried to an awaiting ambulance

Here’s what we did not see, despite claims made in the title and accompanying text:

  • Jewish settlers attacking Palestinians
  • Jewish settlers burning Palestinian fields

Whilst the events described by the Guardian may have indeed occurred, the video they produced and posted certainly did not present any visual evidence to buttress these claims.  

Though there have been far more egregious examples of ‘Pallywood‘ in action (i.e., intentionally misleading or doctored Palestinian film footage; and the staging of certain scenes) it is reasonable to ask why the Guardian editor who published this video failed to engage in basic journalistic critical scrutiny of what the clips were claiming to document.

A Jew, a jihadist and the Guardian: A brief illustration of photographic sympathy

Yesterday, April 30, we posted about a report by Harriet Sherwood on the murder of an Israeli man, 32-year-old Evyatar Borovsky, by a Palestinian terrorist affiliated with Fatah in a stabbing attack at a bus stop at the Tapuach Junction, in the northern West Bank. The report also noted that, on the same day, Israeli forces killed a jihadist bomb-maker and arms dealer in Gaza named Hitham Ziyad Ibrahim Mishal, who was believed to be responsible for a recent rocket attack on Eilat.

Mishal was active in multiple Salafi-jihadi organizations, and reportedly “dealt in the manufacturing, upgrading and trade of firearms, rockets and bombs, which he delivered to various terror organizations.”

Sherwood’s report in the Guardian was entitled ‘Israeli security forces deployed in West Bank after settler is stabbed to death and included this photo depicting grieving Palestinians in Gaza:


Here’s the Guardian caption:

A Palestinian boy, right, mourns as men comfort a relative during the funeral of Hitham Masshal, whose body is being carried in the background, in Gaza City’s al-Shati refugee camp. Photograph: Mohammed Salem/Reuters

While certainly not at all surprising, it’s important nonetheless to note that Guardian editors did not show the following photo, which was published elsewhere in the media, showing three of Evyatar Borovsky’s surviving children at his funeral yesterday.

kids-635x357There is another even more heartbreaking photo online of one of these young boys – arms wrapped around his father’s coffin – which we will not show. However, if you’d like to learn more about the life of Evyatar Borovsky (and his widow, Tzofia) you can see the following reports.

The Guardian: Where Jews are “hardline”, while Hamas tries to ‘rein in extremists’.

In an April 7 post, we asked how many of the roughly 800 Jews currently living in the ancient city of Hebron Harriet Sherwood had spoken to or interviewed.  Our interest in the Guardian Jerusalem correspondent’s familiarity with Hebron’s Jews was piqued by the following sentence in her April 4 report about an outbreak of violence in the West Bank – including in Israelis cities such as Hebron.

After the funeral Palestinian youths threw stones at Israeli soldiers close to an extremist Jewish settlement in the heart of the city. The Israeli military responded with teargas, stun grenades and rubber bullets

We noted that by referring to a community of hundreds of Israelis as “extremists”, Sherwood was lazily imputing widespread fanaticism without evidence – and, more broadly, conveying a message that there’s something radical or extreme about the desire to maintain even a small Jewish presence in Hebron, the oldest Jewish community in the world.

Our April 7 post is relevant in contextualizing Sherwood’s report on today’s terrorist attack in the West Bank – in which a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli man to death, then grabbed his weapon and fired at nearby border police.

Sherwood begins her piece, entitled ‘Israeli security forces deployed in West Bank after settler is stabbed to death‘, April 30, with the following information, which includes a curious reference to the victim’s home town:

Large numbers of Israeli security forces have been deployed in the West Bank after an Israeli settler was stabbed to death by a Palestinian amid fears that the killing could trigger widespread confrontations.

Eviatar Borovzky, 30, a father of five children and a part-time security guard at the hardline settlement of Yitzhar, near Nablus, died of his wounds at the scene of the attack.

Even if the contention that some Jews who live in Yitzhar are “hardline” has merit, it’s unclear what significance the politics of the victim’s home city has in understanding the attack, anymore than the fact that the terrorist suspect is reportedly from a city (Tulkarem) where several deadly terrorist attacks have originated would have relevance.

Sherwood’s report also included the following:

Around the same time [as the attack on Borovzky],an Israeli air strike killed an alleged Palestinian militant in Gaza in the first targeted assassination since the eight-day war last November. The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said Haitham Masshal, 24, had been involved in a recent rocket attack on the Israeli Red Sea resort of Eilat. It described him as a “Global-Jihad-affiliated terrorist” and said he had “acted in different Jihad Salafi terror organisations and over the past few years has been a key terror figure”.

Hamas, the Islamist organisation which controls Gaza, has observed the ceasefire agreement that ended November’s conflict. However, in the past two months there has been renewed intermittent rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, blamed on small extremist organisations that Hamas is trying to rein in.

So, according to Sherwood, Hamas is trying to “rein in” extremism in Gaza.


  • Hamas is recognized as a terrorist movement by the US, EU, Canada, Japan, the U.K., and Australia.
  • Hamas’s founding charter cites the wisdom of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to “prove” that Jews are indeed trying to take over the world.
  • Hamas has carried out hundreds of deadly terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians.
  • Hamas leaders have called for genocide against the Jews.

Regarding the final bullet point, here’s one example: Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior leader and co-founder of Hamas, is seen in this video waxing eloquently (on Al-Aqsa TV in 2010) about the the Jews’ future in the Middle East:

No, there’s clearly nothing “extremist” or “hardline” about that!

Israel launches operation ‘Pillar of Defense’ to cripple Gaza terrorist infrastructure

After a period of four days which saw more than 120 rockets fired by Gaza terrorists at Israeli cities, causing injuries and endangering the lives of hundreds of thousands of citizens, the IDF  has launched Operation ‘Pilar of Defense‘ with the aim of hampering the terrorist organizations’ rocket launching and weapons build up capabilities.”

IDF Spokesperson told The Algemeiner that “the operation began about an hour ago with a pin-point strike on Hamas terror chief al-Jabari”, adding that “since then…we have targeted about 20 different sites in the Gaza strip focusing specifically in long-range rocket capabilities that have been developed in Gaza.”

We’ll keep you posted on the Guardian’s coverage of the operation as it develops.  

You can follow The Muqata who’s live blogging on the operation.  Our Twitter feed for updates is here.

The Guardian yawns in reaction to Gaza terrorists targeting Israeli school children

A guest post by AKUS

On Sunday, August 26th, two rockets hit the small industrial area of Sderot at about 9:00 am. Had they fallen about 100 meters to the west, they would have landed in the densely populated “shikunim” (low-cost housing projects) across the road. The satellite picture below shows the area where the rockets fell. The white oblongs are the little workshops and factories in the area, and the long one on Kopenhagen Street is a supermarket.

The timing was not coincidental – it is the time in the early morning when children go to school and adults go to work and are more likely to be caught out in the open. Had the kassam that hit the factory in Sderot fallen into one of the suburbs shown to the left, above, there would have been a high probability of killing or injuring people leaving home to go about their day’s activities.

Today, at the time children return from school, two more rockets were fired towards the town. Again, the timing was not coincidental. The objective was to hit people – children – caught in the street between school and home.

Three rockets were fired at the area on Saturday. During the school holidays, Ma’ariv reports that over 100 rockets were fired at the area (I heard a few of them)

The people firing these rockets are the so-called “militants” that the Guardian brings to write op-eds and columns that attempt to cover up the use of terror against Israeli civilians, and, specifically, as we can see from the timing of the rockets, children. There is not a mention of these attacks in the Guardian, currently obsessing again over Rachel Corrie while ignoring all the Israeli Rachels who get no trial, no plays written, and no sympathy.

The IDF has announced that the rockets were fired by the Salfist Jihad group in Gaza. Nevertheless, Israel holds Hamas responsible as the group that purportedly governs the Gaza Strip, and retaliated, destroying an arms warehouse owned by Hamas. The Salafis may be trying to push Israel to war, and they are about one child’s death away from succeeding. If Hamas does not want a repeat of Cast Lead, it had better do something about this – quickly.

A public bomb shelter in Sderot, painted so as not to scare children.

The Gaza you’ll never see in the Guardian

H/T IDF, who was responsible for much of the information in this post

The tired narrative advanced by uninformed observers, the mainstream media (and, certainly, more ideologically extreme sites like the Guardian) about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict often includes the flippant cliché that Gaza is a “concentration camp” or an “open air prison” — and that Israel is to blame.

Such lazy characterizations of the situation in Gaza are simply fictitious. 

First, Gaza is ruled by Hamas, a terrorist group sworn to Israel’s destructionand rockets fired from the strip routinely strike southern Israel. So, is it really difficult to comprehend why the IDF can’t allow imports into Gaza without first inspecting the contents to ensure that there aren’t weapons?

Further, not only is there no “humanitarian crisis” in Gaza but, in certain areas of the territory, the economy is booming. Every day, the IDF transfers thousands of tons of goods and gas into Gaza - products delivered to Palestinian merchants and international organizations such as UNRWA.

But some things can’t go in, right?

Wrong.  All items can go in, even dual-use items — those that can be used for both civilian and military purposes, like certain fertilizers that can be used to build rockets.  (Such dual-use items merely require permits, and are typically sent to Gaza via international aid agencies to ensure that they don’t fall into the hands of Hamas terrorists.)

While no single photograph can capture the entire reality of life in Gaza, the common refrains, that Gaza is a “big concentration camp” or a big “prison camp”, are simply lies.

As a 2010 report in the Washington Post described:

“[Gaza] grocery stores are stocked wall-to-wall with everything from fresh Israeli yogurt and hummus to Cocoa Puffs smuggled in from Egypt. Pharmacies look as well-supplied as a typical Rite Aid in the United States.”

Take a look at Gaza as you rarely see it in the media:

The central public library in Gaza. Photo by Laura Goldman

Palestinians shop at the new al-Andulusia mall in Gaza City, August 2011. Photo by Hatem Moussa, AP

Here’s a brief video about the new al-Andulusia mall in Gaza.

More photos from Gaza:

A wedding in Gaza

A street vendor at the Friday market in Gaza City

A cake shop in Gaza City 

The gold market in Gaza City

The Kazem ice cream shop in Gaza

A small boat takes Palestinian leisure-seekers into the Mediterranean Sea for a fare.

Check out these additional photos from Gaza as well as these examples of staged photography.

CiF Watch ‘When Pigs Fly’ Edition: Guardian publishes 100% POSITIVE story about Israel

The following Guardian report (The Israeli Defence Forces: First for women, July 9), was written by Nick Hopkins.

Though Hopkins is the Guardian’s defence and security correspondent, the report was placed on the Life Style page of their site:

The odd placement notwithstanding, Hopkins’ piece represents something of a first for the Guardian: an entirely positive take on Israeli society, reporting on gender equality in the IDF – relative parity between men and women serving in Israel’s armed forces which other nations’ militaries are trying to emulate.

Indeed, there were some passages which were not only completely free the Guardian’s institutional bias against the Jewish state, but actually were indistinguishable from what would be written in pro-Israel blogs.  Here’s an example.

“Though the Israeli military has a very macho image, the IDF is the most progressive in the world – when measured in terms of  at least. Almost one-third of the force and 50% of its officers are female. In the UK, only 13% of the armed forces are women, while there are only slightly more in the US army (13.4%).” [emphasis added]

Yes, that was really written in the Guardian!

Hopkins’ praise of Israel’s progressive prowess continues:

“The British military is one of several around the world that has sought advice from the IDF on equality, though the UK is unlikely to catch up in the short term, despite recent efforts to do so.”

Of course, none of this is new to those of us familiar with the rights afforded women (and gays) in the IDF, but I never thought I’d live to see the day when the Guardian’s “purity of ideology” would ever allow for such journalistic “treif” – unvarnished truth about Israel’s undeniably progressive nature.

Hopkins continues:

“There are laws that demand women must be recruited to the IDF, and a series of legal challenges have shattered barriers to what they can do thereafter. The process started in 1949 with a law that demanded equality in the IDF – and 92% of roles in service are now open to women…Women now regularly serve in anti-aircraft brigades, in the artillery, and as fighter pilots.”

Again, contrasting the IDF with the British Armed Forces, Hopkins notes:

“In the UK, women remain banned from small units in the frontline because of fears that, in the heat of a battle, male colleagues may seek to look after them, rather than concentrate on fighting.”

We hope, of course, that the UK will continue to look to Israel for guidance regarding other gender equality issues and, further, that the Guardian uses this report as a teachable moment for their staff, thus ushering in a new Guardian era of (CP Scott-inspired) Zionist advocacy, and philo-Semitic commentary.

Yeah, I know, when non kosher animals grow wings!

Happy Independence Day!

Every year since the very first anniversary of Israeli independence (with the exception of 1957), the Ministry of Education has produced a poster celebrating Yom HaAtzmaout

Anyone flying in or out of Israel will probably have noticed the exhibition of those posters at Ben Gurion airport. I always make a point of looking for ‘my’ poster – the one produced in the year in which I came to Israel – and noting how many have followed. But my favourite of all the many beautiful designs is the very first one from 1949 which carries a quotation from the Declaration of Independence that is just as relevant today as it was all those decades ago. 

“This right is the natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign State.”

קובץ:Israel 01 Independence Day 1949.jpg

In contrast with most other nations, that natural right still has to be defended and protected by Israelis. As we make the difficult transition from a day of commemoration for those who gave their lives defending their country to a day of celebration of 64 years of Jewish self-determination, here is a film tribute to the current generation of Israel’s soldiers who stand guard every day of the year to defend our country, our independence and our natural right to both. 

Happy Independence Day! יום עצמאות שמח

With thanks to Shoot East for their permission to use the film. 

Harriet Sherwood’s Cultural Baggage.

Many years ago I went down to breakfast in a hotel in Istanbul only to find a large tour group of British holiday-makers already ensconced in the dining room.  As I perused the luscious menu, the waiters hovered around the other tables, trying to take orders. At each table they got the same instructions: “Just a pot of boiling water and some bread rolls”. My amusement at the perplexed expressions on the waiters’ faces then turned to uncontrollable snorts of laughter as the tourists began to set out upon the tables an impressive array of produce from the motherland, ranging from Tetley’s tea bags to Robertson’s marmalade.

That same prissy and parochial attitude, that inability to even try to be open to a different culture, that passing of judgement according to standards of ‘I know what I like and I like what I know’ are often glaringly apparent in Harriet Sherwood’s writing, and her latest missive subtitled “IDF programme for young Jews from outside Israel is part of a militaristic culture” shows that in nine months in Israel Sherwood has done nothing to try to understand the place in which she lives. That would not matter if Sherwood were just yet another British tourist with a head full of unshakable stereotypes, but she is supposed to be a foreign correspondent who enables her readers to better understand a foreign country. If Sherwood herself can’t be bothered to try to comprehend Israelis, what chance do her readers have?

In her article Sherwood interviews a young woman from Britain who has taken part in a voluntary eight week program for gap-year students. In other words, two women from the same culture discuss a project in no way representative of what conscripted Israeli youth, who serve for a minimum of two to three years, experience.  The tone is already set by Sherwood’s choice of closed questions:

“An IDF video on youtube says that, in lectures and training, emphasis is placed on Israel’s security situation. I asked Lucy Cohen how that came across, and whether there was any acknowledgment of the IDF being an occupying force in the Palestinian territories.”

Naturally, Sherwood sees no necessity in reminding her readers how and why Israel came to be in control of land conquered and occupied 19 years previously by the Jordanian army or in pointing out that the areas still under Israeli control are in fact those defined as such under the Oslo accords which Palestinian representatives signed of their own free will.

“Her group had done a role play on an IDF mission to search a “house with terrorists”. Some of the group, she said, equated “Arabs” with “terrorists” without distinction. “I would say that there’s quite a lack of education,” she added.”

“The group”, one presumes, refers to the foreign students. In other words, this paragraph tells the reader nothing about Israel where Bedouin Arabs, Druze Arabs, Circassian Muslims and Christian Arabs serve side by side with Jewish Israelis in the IDF. All we learn here is that “some” (two? three?) of a group of unknown size made up of non-Israelis hold less than open-minded opinions. But Sherwood is only now getting into gear.

“I’ve spoken to young Britons, here on holiday or to visit family, who report a feeling of awe or admiration at their Israeli counterparts in uniform and toting loaded weapons.

Others are repelled by what they see as the glorification of the military.”

It is of course highly significant that Sherwood has chosen only to speak to “young Britons”. English-speaking Israeli soldiers are not exactly a rarity here by any stretch of the imagination, but to talk to them, to try to understand what it is like to be responsible for the defence of one’s country at the age of eighteen, might upset Harriet’s apple cart of stereotypes. She might even discover that guns are not ‘toted’, but carried for a very good reason and that whilst soldiers travel, the weapons are not loaded.

Now, let’s take a look at Sherwood’s use of the phrase ‘glorification of the military’. Given the overall tone of her article, we can probably safely conclude that in this context the definition she had in mind was something along the lines of “to cause to be or seem more glorious or excellent than is actually the case”.

Israelis do indeed hold their soldiers in high esteem, particularly those serving in elite units, because they are only too aware that those eighteen to twenty-one year-olds are sacrificing the best years of their lives to serve their country and protect its civilian population. On the other hand, unlike in Britain where one can live for years – particularly among the middle classes – and never really meet a soldier, in Israel the army is a people’s army. The soldiers are our children, our parents, our siblings, ourselves. The idea that something so universal, so ordinary,  can be glorified (particularly in Israel, where every wart and stumble is analysed and dissected by a much less docile media than that in the UK) is actually quite laughable. Washing a soldier’s smelly socks is not exactly conducive to exaltation in my experience.

Next, we are treated to Sherwood’s pseudo-psychological explanation of the role of the army in Israeli society.

“ The role that compulsory national service plays in Israeli society serves a number of purposes. Firstly, it provides the IDF with the raw material any army needs to fight battles. Secondly, it strongly reinforces the sense – felt acutely by most Israelis – that their nation is under constant existential threat. Thirdly, it serves to bind people together in a common experience.”

This, one has to admit, is priceless as an example of just how ridiculous a journalist can be when he or she is afflicted by a cultural blind-spot. First, there is the use of the phrase “raw material” – usually employed when talking about an innate object – which not only dehumanizes the soldiers themselves, but also takes no account of the soul-searching this nation undergoes in all sectors of society when military action is necessary. Unlike in Sherwood’s country, here the sons and daughters of Prime Ministers also serve shoulder to shoulder with the son of the street-sweeper. That fact makes for a kind of accountability of which Sherwood obviously cannot even conceive.

According to Sherwood, the army exists in part in order to deliberately manufacture a sense of constant existential threat. She is so locked in her own mental straightjacket that she cannot acknowledge that the IDF exists precisely because of the threats to Israel’s existence from day one of its establishment. Indeed, her lack of comprehension of the region as a whole prompts her final fluffy “why can’t they all just get along?” paragraph:

“The decades-old conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has produced a deeply-militarised culture on both sides. Instead of inculcating young people in weapons training and their inalienable right to the land, the prospects for a peaceful solution might improve if Jewish and Palestinian teenagers were taught more about a culture of peace, reconciliation and co-existence.”

So, seeing as Harriet Sherwood obviously has no intention of speaking to actual Israeli soldiers and finding out how they really feel about having to guard their country’s borders in the cold and rain or the searing summer heat, let me offer her the point of view of the mother of some of those soldiers.

This week I have been running around with our son – the youngest of five children. He is nearly seventeen and received his call-up papers some time ago, but by now we as a family are old hands at this. On Tuesday he had an optician’s appointment, on Wednesday he had to go to the call-up centre in our local town and on Thursday for a medical test at the local hospital. Next he has to return to the call-up centre and will receive his ‘profile’ – an assessment of his physical and mental abilities which will determine his choice of unit for the three years of his service.

I would very much prefer to be discussing with him choices of universities instead of army units right now. In fact when his oldest brother was born, around the time of the signing of the peace treaty with Egypt, I was convinced that by the time he grew up there would be no need for him to go to the army. Of course, I was very wrong and so far I have stood four times choking back the tears as the child I have spent eighteen years protecting got on a bus at the call-up centre which would take him or her to places where I could no longer look after them.

We have been very lucky: all our children have come back safe and sound from Lebanon, from Gaza and from the hell-holes of Ramallah, Schem and Hevron during the second Intifada. In another year and a half the youngest will get on that bus too and another three years of sleepless nights and missed heart-beats at every late-night knock on the door will begin. I wish it were different. I wish my children had been able during those golden years to travel or study like the majority of the world’s youth. But it isn’t like that here, and the reason for that is not because Israel is a ‘militaristic’ society or because Israelis don’t want peace. The reason is that there are those in this world who do not want this country to exist – people who dress babies up as suicide bombers, who glorify (and here that word is appropriate) terrorists by naming town squares after them and teach small children that Jews are sub-human.

And if Harriet Sherwood is not perceptive enough to realise that if Israelis tomorrow lay down their guns and break out in a rousing chorus of ‘Kumbaya’, peace will not instantly descend upon the Middle East (quite the opposite, in fact), then she should stick to writing about subjects she does understand,  because clearly not only she is not up to doing her job, but she is also guilty of promoting untruths and entrenching misguided opinions about a conflict obviously far too complex for her level of understanding.

Just like those British tourists with their tea and marmalade, Harriet Sherwood clings to the cultural baggage she brought with her to a place where it is not in the least bit relevant and prevents her from discovering what is really happening around her. And just like generations of British colonialists and missionaries who stomped around the world with the aim of imposing their own standards and ideals on ‘inferior’ native populations, she too really does believe that she knows what is best for Israelis.

So much for ‘post-colonialism’.

Slow news day in Israel for Sherwood? No worries. Just regurgitate lies, damn lies, and statistics about the “cruel” Gaza blockade

A guest post by blogger Daphne Anson

Reading the Guardian on Israel is always a queasy experience.  Were it not for the fact that Harriet Sherwood’s Guardian report of 30 November headed “Israel accused over ‘cruel’ Gaza blockade” reflects the customary tone and thrust of her Jerusalem-based reports concerning Israel, I might have assumed that her willingness to swallow the detrimental assertions of a lynch mob of NGOs hook, line and sinker is just a case of Sherwood being green.  Alas, I know better: the Guardian has an agenda, and one that’s in perfect harmony with that of the NGOs who are in the forefront of efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state. In reporting the latters’ report uncritically, with no genuine look at the countervailing facts, Ms Sherwood acts less as correspondent than as cheerleader.

Gaza‘s 1.5 million people are still suffering from a shortage of construction materials, a ban on exports and severe restrictions on movement six months after Israel agreed to ease its blockade on the territory, according to a report from 21 international organisations”, her opening sentence tells us. “The loosening of the embargo has done little to improve the plight of Gaza’s civilians, according to the coalition, which includes Amnesty, Oxfam, Save the Children, Christian Aid and Medical Aid for Palestinians.”  The usual suspects, then, well-known for their antipathy to Israel’s cause – though if we don’t already know that for ourselves we’d be none the wiser, for Ms Sherwood has not volunteered that salient fact. We have to have read the thoroughly researched reports and empirical analyses at the website of NGO Monitor to know who pushes their buttons and why they do and say the things they do.

Like the Guardian itself, the organisations named all peddle the familiar narrative of Palestinian victimhood and Israeli evil that the Guardian under Alan Rusbridger’s editorship has done so much to bolster.  The report which they and the sixteen other NGOs involved (many of which are in the forefront of efforts to promote BDS and delegitimize Israel) have just issued, entitled Dashed Hopes: Continuation of the Gaza Blockade, tells us, according to Ms Sherwood’s précis:

“Israel agreed to ease its restrictions on goods and materials allowed into Gaza following its attack on a flotilla of aid boats in May, in which nine Turkish activists were killed. Since then the import of food and many other consumer items has resumed, although there is still a ban on exports and severe restrictions on construction materials. Israel argues that the latter could be used by militants for military purposes.”

This is a deplorably shallow and one-sided description.  We don’t necessarily expect investigative journalism, but surely we deserve honest reporting.  Ms Sherwood has omitted to remind readers (and if any readers need reminding, they are the Guardian’s!) that the “attack” was not on “a flotilla” – it was, by the law and custom of the sea, a legitimate raid on a particular vessel that had refused to cooperate with the Israeli authorities.  The flotilla sailed under the auspices of the IHH, a fundamentalist Islamic group with direct links to terrorism.  Antisemitic chants had preceded the flotilla’s sailing.  “Go back to Auschwitz!” was an audible taunt from the vessel when contacted by Israeli coastal radio operators and asked to put into Ashdod so that its cargo, avowedly of humanitarian supplies for the people of Gaza, could be searched and assessed prior to being sent to its destination overland.  Israeli commandos had been brutally beaten with iron bars as they attempted to go aboard, and responded accordingly.

It’s true that there is still a ban on exports – although as Ms Sherwood tells us at the end of her report – strawberries and carnations for European markets are allowed out.  (To be precise, starting from last Sunday, 2.5 tons of strawberries and 2,000 blooms are being exported to Europe via the Kerem Shalom crossing.)  She tells us, again précising the NGOs’ report, that: “imports of construction materials are 11% of the 2007 pre-blockade levels” and that “Despite having agreed to allow in materials for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency to rebuild its schools and clinics damaged or destroyed in the three-week war in 2008-09, Israel has permitted only 7% of the necessary amount.”

While big-noting the report is part and parcel of what we have come to expect from the Guardian, ever-zealous to highlight something, however tenuous, that might damage the image and interests of the Jewish State, in many respects the NGOs – like the Guardian in its enthusiastic airing of their indictment against Israel – have been overtaken and outsmarted by events.  Its assertions are nicely diluted by Israeli governmental statistics, more specifically by those of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).  Thus, since the beginning of this year, 78 projects, largely concerned with education, health and infrastructure, have been approved for funding – 64 of them since Israel’s easing of the blockade.  This past Sunday, 286 trucks loaded with humanitarian aid and commercial products crossed from Israel into Gaza, along 21 imported vehicles.  In October, 2569 Palestinians left Gaza through the Erez crossing.

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What the Guardian isn’t telling you (Part….oh heck; I’ve lost count..)

In keeping with its self-declared progressive and liberal credentials, the Guardian devotes considerable energies to its Environment section of CiF.

One would think, therefore, that the news of a ‘green revolution’ in one of the world’s most talked-about armies would be worth a few paragraphs. Apparently not.

It seems that the cognitive dissonance of coming to terms with the fact that Israelis (and even worse; the Israeli army) might be doing something positive about addressing environmental issues is just too much for the average Guardianista to bear.

So here’s a short film about some of the steps being taken by the IDF in order to reduce its carbon footprint.

In fact, there’s an awful lot of environmental news coming out of Israel. From electric cars, through massive solar energy projects and innovative methods of water conservation to name but a few, Israelis have been playing their part in developing the technologies needed to secure the world’s environmental future for quite some time.

But if you do a Google search on the words Guardian, environment and Israel, all you will get is less than a handful of bad news stories which reinforce the stereotypical Guardian World View of Israel and Israelis.  A search for Guardian, environment and military produces only articles about the US army and environmental issues.

How predictable.


Inconsolable victimhood?

This is cross posted from the blog, This Ongoing War

The Islamic Jihad terror organization announced earlier this afternoon (in a report quoted by Haaretz, as well as by Reuters) that one of its terrorists was killed on what it termed a “Jihadist mission” today – in other words, an attack aimed at Israelis. Islamic Jihad has been behind many of the rocket attacks that have targeted civilians in southern Israel from launching points in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. Ynet, quoting Gaza Palestinian sources, says the dead man was 20, and a member of Islamic Jihad’s so-called military wing al-Quds Brigades (as if a terrorist organization has wings that are not inherently terrorist).

The IDF’s spokesperson confirmed the basic facts: one of its tanks fired on “two Palestinian suspects who approached the security fence” and the target was hit. Palestinian Arab medical sources in Gaza, also quoted by Haaretz, said a second person nearby was wounded.

As happens so often, this is only part of the story. Earlier today a mortar shell fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip exploded in an open area near one of the kibbutzim of Shaar Hanegev. Fortunately, no one was hurt and there was no damage, but this was not the intention of the jihadists. And unlike the death of the terrorist, the mortar attack is entirely unreported at this hour, outside of Israeli news channels.

Meanwhile, true to form, the major news agencies are already promoting the traditional photos(see below) of wailing, inconsolable friends and relatives… of the dead terrorist for heaven’s sake. His name happens, perhaps not by chance, to be Jihad Afanah. The narrative by which the jihadists and the Islamists are perpetual victims is, somehow, irresistible to the photo editors who, sad to say, know their customers well.

Here, below, are several of the agency photos already making their way around the world into the syndication channel. To us, the tone of sympathy and tragedy they sound is a disgrace. Not a new disgrace, but a disgrace. Either the editors at AP and Reuters believe the dead man is a terrorist, in which case why do they time and again frame the death by reference to bereavement and loss? Or they actually believe this dead man and his ilk are activists – and in that case their message seems to be: how very sad that a sincere young man died while trying to achieve his noble goal. Either way, the syndicated publication of pictures like these brings no credit to the editors or the agencies.

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