Independent posts op-ed about Gaza by extremist who supported Al Qaeda attacks on 9/11

Mads Gilbert is a Norwegian doctor, commentator and “radical Maoist politician” who openly supported the “moral right” of Al Qaeda to murder thousands of Americans on 9/11, and who,  argued that the world’s oppressed have an inherent “moral right to attack the USA with any weapon they can come up with”.

He visited Shifa Hospital in Gaza during the 2008-09 war in Gaza and, according to NGO monitor, “repeatedly and falsely accused Israel of deliberately targeting civilians” while making “no mention of evidence that Al-Shifa hospital has been used for military purposes”.

Well, Dr. Gilbert has returned to Shifa Hospital, and has published an open letter at the Independent about his experiences:

gilbert

In the opening passage, Gilbert declares that the injured and killed – including, presumably, Hamas fighters – are all civilians and all “innocent”.

The last night was extreme. The “ground invasion” of Gaza resulted in scores and carloads with maimed, torn apart, bleeding, shivering, dying… All sorts of injured Palestinians, all ages, all civilians, all innocent.

As with his previous visit to the hospital in 2009, Gilbert has failed to acknowledge that the hospital is reportedly being used for military purposes and has actually become “a de facto headquarters for Hamas leaders”. 

Concerning Israel’s treatment of innocent Palestinians, Gilbert adds:

Now, once more treated like animals by “the most moral army in the world” [sic!].

the heartless and merciless have done their calculations and planned another dahyia – onslaught on Gaza.

Of course, there’s no mention by the doctor of Hamas’s cruel, cynical and illegal policy of using the Palestinians he supports as human shields, nor the undeniable evidence that the group has placed.

The Indy’s decision to publish an extremist like Gilbert simply reinforces our view (which has been solidified while monitoring their coverage of the war) that, at least concerning the Israeli-Palestinian issue, the paper is slouching towards the Guardian.

Indy contributor Mira Bar-Hillel accuses British Jews of bombing Gaza

“Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel” represents an example of modern day antisemitism, according to the EUMC Working Definition, a perfect example of what’s known as the new antisemitism, as it evokes the classic Judeophobic narrative ‘accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for the alleged wrongdoing committed by a single Jew or Jewish group’. 

To boot, the following Tweet by Indy contributor Mira Bar-Hillel:

Then there was this response:

We should point out (in the context of Bar-Hillel’s accusation to  that “you” bombed women and children) that Mr. Newmark is a British Jew and not an Israeli. 

To provide a little context, Ms. Bar-Hillel’s polemical history at the Indy has included the following:

  • She strongly suggested that Jews (per the Livingstone Formulation) often smear people unfairly with the charge of antisemitism to “gag into submission any critic of Israel”.
  • She evoked Nazi Germany in characterizing Israeli racism and IDF military actions in Gaza.
  • She admitted to being prejudiced against Jews.

Regarding her acknowledgement of being prejudiced against Jews, here’s the full quote 

The Jews of today scare me and I find it almost impossible to talk to most of them, including relatives. Any criticism of the policies of Israel – including the disgraceful treatment of Holocaust survivors as well as refugees from murderous regimes – is regarded as treason and/or anti-Semitism. Most papers and journals will not even publish articles on the subject for fear of a Jewish backlash. Goyim (gentiles ) are often treated with ill-concealed contempt, yet the Jews are always the victims. Am I prejudiced against Jews? Alas, yes.”

Yet, despite Ms. Bar-Hillel’s concern that “most papers and journals will not even publish articles on the subject for fear of a Jewish backlash”, she continues to be published by the Independent, a paper which just last year wrote a spirited editorial claiming that “neither Israel nor the broader Jewish community is demonised by this newspaper”.

Sorry, but when, as an editor for a major UK daily, you make the decision to license a commentator who admits to being prejudiced against Jews – and one who continues to advance Judeophobic calumnies on your op-ed pages – your righteous indignation over charges of antisemitism ring a little hollow.  

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CiF Watch prompts Indy correction to false claim by Mira Bar-Hillel

We recently posted about an op-ed by Mira Bar-Hillel (a Jewish commentator who has acknowledged being antisemitic) which erroneously suggested that the Israeli media demanded the IDF bomb Gaza “back to the Stone Age” (see here), and accused Israelis of believing that “Palestinians aren’t quite human”.  

As we pointed out, she also made a patently false claim concerning the 2012 Gaza War.

Here’s the relevant passage:

Over the past decade we have had “Operation Cast Lead” (2008/9) in which illegal white phosphorus was employed, 1,400 Gazan civilians were killed including one family whose children bled to death on the roof because Israeli aircraft prevented their evacuation. The Israelis lost 11 soldiers. In “Operation Pillar of Smoke”, (2012) hundreds more died, all Palestinian.

Of course, her claim that ALL of those who died during the war (Operation Pillar of Defense) were Palestinian is not true. Four Israeli civilians and two soldiers were killed in that war.

After contacting Indy editors, they agreed to revise the passage accordingly.

It now reads:

Over the past decade we have had “Operation Cast Lead” (2008/9) in which illegal white phosphorus was employed, 1,400 Gazan civilians were killed including one family whose children bled to death on the roof because Israeli aircraft prevented their evacuation. The Israelis lost 11 soldiers. In “Operation Pillar of Smoke”, (2012) hundreds more Palestinians died.

We commend Indy editors for promptly correcting Bar-Hillel’s false claim.

On the Indy’s hypocrisy over that Bill Maher Tweet

The Independent recently covered the evidently serious controversy surrounding the following Tweet by comedian Bill Maher.

The Indy, in an article published today (July 18th), had a clear critical editorial stance towards the Tweet: 

Bill Mayer has sparked a bitter backlash online for appearing to condone Israeli aggression in Gaza and domestic violence in one, foul Twitter swoop.

“You can only hold her wrists for so long before you have to slap her,” he wrote.

The caustic American comedian, who is himself of Jewish heritage, compared Palestinian Sunni Islamic organisation Hamas to a “crazy woman trying to kill you”.

His controversial “joke” comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the IDF had launched a directive for “ground action” against Gaza.

Palestinian health officials say that 233 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli air and naval strikes during 10 days of conflict. Meanwhile, one Israeli civilian has been killed by fire from Gaza.

His comments were heavily criticised, not just for appearing to suggest a pro-Israel stance, but also for appearing to be insensitive to victims of domestic violence:

Note that readers are informed that Maher is Jewish, despite the fact that he’s only half-Jewish, and is a well-known agnostic and fierce critic of religion – a gratuitous reference which may be inconsistent with the section of the Editor Code which warns against providing details of an individual’s religion unless relevant to the story.

However, for some reason, editors at the Indy covered the story of a British comedian named Alexis Sayle – who gave an interview where he likened Israel to a child rapist and a psychopath – in a context which appeared to at least legitimize his comparison:

First, here’s the video: 

 

The July 15th Indy story begins:

Comedian and pro-Palestinian activist Alexei Sayle has fiercely condemned Israel’s air strikes in the Gaza Strip, by comparing the nation’s behaviour to that of prolific sex offender Jimmy Savile.

His comments were released after Israel resumed airstrikes in the Gaza Strip – killing one Palestinian civilian – after Hamas rejected a ceasefire plan and continued rocket attacks. 166 people in Gaza have died in the week-long offensive, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

“Israel is the Jimmy Saville of nation states,” Sayle said on Tuesday during an interview with advocacy group Caabu.

“It clearly doesn’t care about damaging the lives of children,” he added, referring to the late entertainer.

Sayle also described Israel as a “teenager that’s never been given any boundaries.”

“[Israel] is endlessly indulged by its doting parents, the West, and has become a psychopath as a result.

“It thinks that everybody else is in the wrong and it is in the right,” he said.

Note that while Maher’s Tweet was criticized for “taking a pro-Israel stance” (and offending women, which, by itself, is a reasonable conclusion), there’s not a word in the Sayle story suggesting that his comparison between Israel and a child molester just may be a bit offensive, either to Israelis or victims of child abuse. 

Of course, the big difference between Maher and Sayle is that the former was taking aim at an Islamist group which openly incites its followers to kill Jews, while Sayle was going after the state being targeted by these antisemitic extremists. 

The moral confusion amongst segments of the British Left is at times astounding. 

Independent’s demonization of Israel continues: Op-ed accuses state of genocide

As we noted earlier in the week, the Independent doesn’t have a correspondent in the region, but has a stable of Israel ‘critics’ ready on a moment’s notice to launch polemical assaults on the Jewish State.  Last week, they published one op-ed (by Mira Bar-Hillel) which evoked Nazi Germany in vilifying Israeli military actions in Gaza, and another one (by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown) which all but accused Israel of engaging in a plan to exterminate the Palestinians.

This week, Mira Bar-Hillel (a British Jew who has admitted to being antisemitic) returns in a July 17th op-ed erroneously suggesting that the Israeli media has demanded the IDF bomb Gaza “back to the Stone Age” (see here), and accusing the country of believing that “Palestinians aren’t quite human”.  (She also falsely claimed that no Israelis were killed during previous Gaza war in 2012.)

Another July 17th op-ed by Yana Hawari actually endorsed Hamas’s refusal to agree to a ceasefire last week, and finished her diatribe with the following accusation:

It [the war] also allows them to break up the unity between Hamas and Fatah. But most importantly it allows them to continue the strangulation and the genocide of the Palestinian people of Gaza in front of an international audience. 

Of all the hateful, perverse smears against Israel leveled by the hard-left against Israel, the genocide charge is by far the most ludicrous, and the most pernicious. 

As we’ve argued previously, debating the “question” of whether Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians seems at first glance to be as productive as ‘arguing’ whether or not Jews are trying to take over the world. However, unlike the latter charge, which, no matter how bigoted and irrational, is not really quantifiable, the former malicious smear – reflecting the “Israel as the new Nazis“ narrative – can be easily refuted by a few population statistics.

  • The Palestinian population in the West Bank increased from 462,000 in 1949 to more than 2.5 million today.
  • In Gaza, the population increased from 82,000 in 1949 to 1.7 million today.

Additionally, to add further context:

  • The number of Arabs killed (since 1920) in Arab-Israeli wars is far less than the number of Arabs killed by Arabs in Syria alone since 2011.

As a point of reference, the Jewish population of Gaza and Palestinian controlled West Bank is practically zero (save a few pro-Palestinian “journalists” who reside there), while the Jewish population in the entire Arab Middle East has decreased from over 850,000 in 1949 to less than 5,000 today.  (Yet, relatedly, despite the almost complete disappearance of Jewish inhabitants in territories they control, some Palestinian and Arab leaders often incite their citizens to engage in the mass murder of Jews in Israel, and even in the diaspora.)

The broad charge that Jews are ethnically cleansing Arabs (Palestinians or otherwise) in the Middle East, based on the numbers, represents the opposite of the truth.  The only group which has actually been ethnically cleansed in the Middle East since the end of World War 2 has been Jews. (Though, it should be noted that Christians are also in danger of extinction.)

The Independent – which risibly claims to be guided by “enlightened” values and once even strongly denied that it demonizes Israel – should be ashamed of itself for peddling such lies.

Independent op-eds spew hate and vitriol at Israel

The Independent doesn’t have a Jerusalem correspondent at the moment. So, during the war, they’ve been mainly relying on stringers and wire service reports. However, their lack of on-the-ground coverage hasn’t stopped them from using the ‘expert’ analysis of a few of their op-ed contributors:

Here are a few examples:

Adam Withnall

As noted on these pages yesterday, the Indy’s Adam Withnall seemed to characterize a few dozen Sderot residents – a community which been on the receiving end of thousands of Gaza rockets since 2001 – applauding attacks on Hamas military targets as an act of almost unparalleled human cruelty.  Withnall cited one Twitter user who opined about the ‘spectacle’, that “If this is true then God help us all”, before asking,  “What’s become of the human race?”

Robert Fisk

A July 13th op-ed on the war by their “award-winning” Middle East correspondent titled (Why doesn’t the media ever mention the lack of progress in the Middle East?) blamed the Western media for being too soft on Israeli “blood-letting”, by failing to inform news consumers that they state has been “engaged in “pitiless, infinitely more wicked and obscene war”.

Mira Bar-Hillel

Hillel, the British reporter who (though Jewish herself) has acknowledged being antisemitic, published an op-ed on July 11th (Why I’m on the brink of burning my Israeli passport), which likened alleged Facebook comments (the veracity of which is in doubt) by Israeli MK Ayelet Shaked to crimes committed by the Nazis:

Hillel wrote:

She [MK Shaked] made me think about my mother’s sister Klara and her three small children who were living in Krakow in 1939 when the Germans invaded. They decided that the Jews – all Jews – were the enemy and had to be eliminated, not least the women and the little snakes they were raising. “Why? Ask them – they started it”, as the Nazis would say if asked

Later, Hillel referred to a few random hateful Tweets by Israeli teens as “angelic faces of evil spouting such genocidal rhetoric”, before ending with a rhetorical flourish worthy of a character in Howard Jacobson’s book The Finkler Question:

 I pick up my Israeli passport and a box of matches. “Not in my name, people. Not in my name!” 

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

Alibhai-Brown’s July 13th op-ed (Israel’s reaction has been vicious and misdirected) characterized the “mindset of hardline Zionists” thusly:

It is a combination of paranoia, indiscriminate loyalty and odium towards any person or group opposed to Israel’s violent oppression of Palestinians.

Alibhai-Brown then seemed to compare Jihadists attacks with the actions of the Jewish State, and vilifies ‘British Zionists’ for not speaking out:

When Jihadis commit atrocities, British Muslims are collectively blamed, told to protest, to issue statements from mosques, to say sorry, to stop the Islamicists. Israel builds walls, grabs land, introduces racist rules, imprisons Palestinian children, uses grotesque force and gets undeclared donations from British Zionists, and British Jews are not asked to march, or issue condemnations or promises.

Alibhai-Brown’s diatribe then devolves further, accusing Israel of engaging in a plan of genocide:

The Holocaust – one of the most obscene, inhumane pogroms in world history – is now used as a guarantee of perpetual indemnity by a state which was to be a sanctuary and an exemplar of survival, dignity and morality. Israel’s leadership has discarded moral sense and wants to eliminate Palestinians altogether from the pitifully small bits of land they live in. They have learnt the wrong lessons from their own history and seem to be modelling themselves on Europeans who took over Australia, North and South America.

In contextualizing the UK media each day during the war, we can honestly say at this point that recent Indy’s attacks surpass even the Guardian in the level of malice and vitriol directed towards Israel and its ‘Zionist’ supporters.

Finally, you may recall that last October the Indy published a spirited editorial refuting accusations that the paper was institutionally antisemitic, claiming that the charges were “false”, “myopic” and “willfully ignorant” – words which actually quite aptly characterize the hateful agitprop directed against the Jewish State by Fisk, Bar-Hillel and Alibhai-Brown over the last few days.

Independent demonizes Sderot residents for cheering IDF strikes on Hamas

Sderot, dubbed the bomb shelter capital of the world, is a working-class community located 2.5 km from Gaza, and has absorbed the largest percentage of the thousands of rockets fired from Gaza at Israel since 2001.  Such ubiquitous attacks have killed 13 Sderot residents, wounded dozens and profoundly disrupted daily life.

Post-traumatic stress disorder incidences among young children of Sderot, as with depression and miscarriages among the adult population, are abnormally high.

Naturally, they are not too fond of Hamas, the movement most responsible for the terror their community has suffered, and are pleased whenever the IDF attempts to reign in their rocket launching capacity.

Yet, a surreal report by Adam Winthall at the Independent on July 13th, which focuses on fifty Sderot residents who gathered to watch the conflict unfold at a lookout point northwest of the city last week, frames their pleasure at the periodic sight of Hamas terror sites being shelled as nothing short of sadistic.

Here’s the headline:

headline

Withnall begins:

An image that appears to show a group of Israelis on a hilltop cheering and applauding as they watch the deadly aerial bombardment of Gaza has caused international outrage after it was shared by thousands on Twitter.

Taken by the Middle East correspondent for a Danish newspaper, the picture shows rows of people sitting on plastic chairs looking out over the Gaza Strip as rockets and explosions light up the night sky.

Allan Sørensen, who posted the image, wrote that it showed a kind of “cinema” on the hilltop outside the Israeli town of Sderot, and a caption added: “Clapping when blasts are heard.”

Sørensen’s newspaper, the Kristeligt Dagblad, reported that the gathering involved more than 50 people who had transformed the hill into something “most closely resembling the front row of a reality war theatre”.

It said that people were seen taking popcorn up onto the hill with their chairs, and that they sat cheerfully smoking hookahs.

Then the Indy shows the Tweet by the outraged Danish journalist:

Winthall then adds a few more ‘shocking details’ about the ‘cruel’ Israelis.

“We are here to see Israel destroy Hamas,” said Eli Chone, a 22-year-old American who lives in Israel.

Sørensen’s tweet was met with anger by fellow Twitter users. One user wrote: “If this is true then God help us all. What’s become of the human race?

Where to begin?!

First, it’s quite telling that the Indy reporter doesn’t even note the rockets fired on Sderot in the months and years prior to the event he describes.  Withnall completely erases this vital context from his report.

Additionally, do Winthall and the “shocked” Norwegian journalist really not know that Palestinians often celebrate the murder of Israeli civilians as the result of terror attacks?

As you no doubt recall, there were enthusiastic street celebrations when the news broke about the attacks on 9/11.

In 2011, there were celebrations in Gaza when they learned that five Israeli civilians – including three children, one a three months old baby -were literally butchered by Palestinian terrorists in Itamar.

A Palestinian man offers sweets to a woman in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on March 12, 2011 to celebrate an attack which killed five Israelis (Getty Images)

More recently, upon hearing of the abduction of three Israeli teens last month, some Palestinians handed out candy in the streets and posted messages lauding the incident on social media sites and in the state-run media.

University students in Birzeit University distribute sweets in celebration of the kidnapping of the three Israeli teenagers.

University students in Birzeit University distribute sweets in celebration of the kidnapping of the three Israeli teenagers.

Also, a video recently surfaced showing “hundreds of Arabs” celebrating ‘the attack on occupied Palestine’ atop the Temple Mount after hearing bomb sirens in Jerusalem on the first day of the war.

Indeed, just yesterday, according to Times of Israel, Channel 2 showed footage of Palestinian youths dancing and cheering in Gaza “minutes after a heavy rocket barrage was launched at the greater Tel Aviv area”.

So, while Palestinians have often celebrated lethal attacks on innocent Jewish civilians, Indy readers are evidently supposed to be shocked when a few dozen Sderot residents celebrate IDF attacks on a terrorist group committed to their country’s destruction? 

The UK media’s moral myopia, as with their seemingly unlimited capacity to impute malevolence to Israelis, is at times staggering.

Does the Independent think Israel’s response to Hamas is ‘un-Jewish’?

What would be the appropriate UK response to thousands of rockets raining down on London, fired by an extremist movement dedicated to the country’s destruction, and one which forced thousands of Brits to take cover in bomb shelters?  

Do you think it’s safe to say that the British government would give its military leaders explicit orders to stop the rocket fire? Further, considering such a hypothetical scenario, is there any question that ‘enlightened’ voices in the media would support the government while it engaged in such a basic act of self-defense?

Of course, over the past couple of days, the nation responding to such a real threat hasn’t been the UK, but Israel.

So, naturally, after two days of anti-terror operations against Hamas to stop the rocket fire terrorizing its citizens, the Independent published a cartoon not only suggesting that Israel’s response has been ‘disproportionate’, but also seeming to imply that the response is un-Jewish.

Here’s the cartoon published yesterday in the Indy by Dave Brown, a cartoonist who (as Eylon Aslan-Levy writing at Tablet on the cartoon reminded us) drew the infamous cartoon during the 2nd Intifada of Ariel Sharon devouring Palestinian babies.

cartoonPay close attention to the text at the bottom of the graphic, which evokes the following Hebrew Bible verse (from Leviticus):

fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. Just as he inflicted an injury upon a person, so shall it be inflicted upon him.

The Indy cartoon’s revision of these words to “an eye for a tooth…a hand for an eye…a life for a hand…a people for a life” not only accuses Israel of responding disproportionately, and arguably (with the words ‘a life for a people’) engaging in something akin to ethnic cleansing, but that Israel has forgotten its own Jewish ethical tradition.

First, regarding Brown’s use of the Bible verse:

It should be noted that the Jewish oral tradition (as codified in the Talmud) is explicit that this verse ‘an eye for an eye’ has a far more narrow meaning than most suppose. It doesn’t literally mean that if someone pokes out another’s eye, the punishment meted out should similarly consist of poking out the attacker’s eye. It is understood as a commandment simply that justice must be proportional.

So, has the IDF military response – a campaign initiated only as a last resort after cease-fire talks failed to stop the rockets – been proportional? 

Well, first we must remember that army has been narrowly targeting the instruments of Hamas terror – bombing concealed rocket launchers, launching infrastructures, training bases, terror tunnels and other military targets.

Further, any serious observer of the conflict would have acknowledge Israel’s strenuous efforts to avoid harming Palestinian civilians – despite the complication caused by Hamas purposely placing their instruments of war in civilian areas.

The IDF has routinely been warning Gaza civilians of intending attacks in order to limit casualties. This includes dropping leaflets and sending text messages to Palestinians who may be in harm’s way, phone calls to homes (used as hubs for terror activities) that are about to be bombed, and the ‘knock on the roof’ tactic where Israel deploys a ‘scare’ bomb which uses a loud noise to influence civilians to leave the targeted area. 

Again, ask yourself, would the UK go to such measures to warn their enemies of impending attacks if they were facing a similar threat? 

Moreover, it’s remarkable that such political cartoonists have once again failed to focus their righteous outrage and creative energies towards the Islamist extremist group in Gaza.  There are of course no cartoons taking aim at Hamas’s racist ideology, or their callous disregard for human life – not just Jewish life but Palestinian life as well. Hamas after all is an Islamic movement which regards the Hebrew Bible as a sacred text, and so would similarly seem bound by its ethical commandment to engage in proportionate justice, and, most importantly, to value life, first and foremost.  

Given Hamas’s religious tradition, how then are we to explain their recent acknowledgement that they’re targeting all Israelis civilians, their new warnings that they’ll once again begin launching waves of suicide bombings “on every bus, café and street”, and their leaders’ explicit support for the use of Palestinian human shields.

Would Indy editors ever sanction an op-ed or cartoon vilifying such blatant Palestinian disregard for the sanctity of human life as ‘un-Islamic’? 

No, of course they wouldn’t – any more than they would castigate US and British leaders for behaving in an ‘un-Christian’ manner for the huge civilian toll over the years of targeting Islamist fighters in Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan.

Well, at least if fairness and moral consistency represent professional values Indy editors aspire to, then perhaps they should consider avoiding such imperious, sanctimonious and hypocritical sermons to Jews as well.   

UK journo uses subjective word ‘terrorist’ for Jews, but not for Hamas

The Independent doesn’t appear to have a permanent Israel correspondent in the region anymore, but often employs the services of a freelance journalist named Ben Lynfield, who took it upon himself to pen an op-ed at the paper on July 8th (Conflict – a weapon for Hamas in its fight for survival).

Whilst the op-ed itself – which attempts to explain the cause of the current war between Israel and Hamas – is largely unproblematic, his piece included one telling omission, an obfuscation, and an inconsistent use of the word “terrorist”.

terrorist

Here’s the omission and obfuscation:

Lynfield:

Today’s devastating Israeli strikes on Gaza and Palestinian rocket fire at Israel have their roots as a spin-off from Israeli-Palestinian confrontation in the West Bank, where Israel responded to the kidnapping of three teenagers, which it blamed on Hamas (without proof) with a military operation in which Hamas’s West Bank civilian infrastructure was targeted and hundreds of its members arrested. Six Palestinians were killed.

Though Israel didn’t release proof of Hamas’s involvement in the abduction to the media, US security officials who were given the evidence (since one of the Israeli teens had American citizenship) confirmed that there is “strong evidence that Hamas is culpable”. 

Additionally, it’s quite interesting that Lynfield failed to note that the teens were murdered, and not merely kidnapped. 

Now, for the selective use of a ‘loaded’ term:

As we’ve noted, UK news sites like the Indy almost never use the term “terrorist” when characterizing Hamas or other Palestinian groups who murder Israelis ‘in the pursuit of political aims’ – opting instead for the ‘less judgmental’ word “militant”.   And, in fact, nowhere in his op-ed does Lynfield use the word “terrorist” (or, interestingly, even “militant”) to describe ‘Hamas’, even though the Islamist group is considered a “terrorist” group by most of the West. 

However, he did make the decision to use the term in another context.

Lynfield:

Another motive [for Hamas] is that it wants to appear as defender of the Palestinian people against Israeli actions, including the murder of a teenager by terrorists in Jerusalem.

While nobody denies that the Jews who murdered Mohammed Abu Khdeir are cold-blooded terrorists, it’s interesting that Lynfield reserved that term only for Jewish killers, and not for a group which openly targets civilians for mass murder –  part of a disturbing ideological proclivity (within the UK opinion elite) to impute moral equivalence between a progressive Jewish democracy and reactionary Islamist extremists.

Indy TV critic decries attack on free expression by ‘powerful pro-Israel lobby’

In monitoring the UK media’s coverage of Israel and the Jewish world, we’ve previously noted the curious dynamic in which even culture critics (journalists who don’t cover politics or world affairs) manage to adopt the hard left party line on Israel and the perceived power of the ‘Israeli lobby’. 

A case in point is a review at the Independent, by TV critic Gerard Gilbert, of the upcoming BBC2 mini-series The Honourable Woman starring Maggie Gyllenhaal.  The series centers on “Nessa Stein, the daughter of a murdered Zionist arms dealer who now runs a charitable London organisation seeking a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.”

Half-way through the largely positive review, Gilbert adds the following, seemingly out of nowhere:

The Honourable Woman’s fair-minded take on the savagely divisive Palestinian question would presumably make it nigh-on impossible to get made in America with its powerful pro-Israel lobbies.

Of course, Gilbert doesn’t bother to cite an example of any previous “fair-minded” take on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that was nixed due to the “powerful pro-Israel lobbies” and, indeed, the critical success of the pro-Palestinian film 5 Broken Cameras suggests that such advocacy art isn’t adversely affected by such ‘pressure groups’.

Quite interestingly, this broadside against the Israel lobby isn’t a one-off for the culture critic.

In 2011, Gilbert similarly expressed his frustration with the power of the lobby in an article at the Indy.

Here’s Gilbert’s take on a BBC programme about the controversy that surrounded Monty Python’s Life of Brian in 1979, and what he argued was the steady erosion, since that time, of the artistic freedom to engage in such criticism of religion:

Freedom of speech can be a much tougher call in the polarised 21st-century than it was in the fag-end of liberal Seventies Britain, and if BBC4 wanted to take a moment from our recent past to shed light on the present, then there are plenty of controversies of younger vintage available to them.

How about the fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini against Salman Rushdie in 1989 over his novel The Satanic Verses, a death sentence that remains in place today, and that led to Rushdie spending almost a decade in hiding, as well as the violent attacks against various translators and publishers (including an arson attack at a cultural festival in Turkey that left 37 people dead)? Perhaps Sanjeev Bhaskar could play Rushdie.

Or how about a drama about the Danish cartoons depicting Muhammad, and the subsequent worldwide protests, or the play Behtzi, which sparked riots by Birmingham Sikhs in 2004. Or how about, for that matter, the remorseless attacks on journalists and academics in any way critical of Israel

In response to Gilbert’s complaint about such “remorseless attacks” on the media and academia by powerful forces, The CST’s Mark Gardner observed the following:

I am unaware that the Chief Rabbi (of Britain, Israel, or anywhere else for that matter) has issued a death sentence against the Guardian, the Independent, the University and College Union, or any other “journalists and academics in any way critical of Israel”.

I am unaware of pro-Israel lobby groups having incited deadly riots against BBC offices around the world. I am unaware of British anti-Israel academics being burnt and bombed when they venture abroad.

I am unaware of rioting by Jews in Golders Green, or Tottenham, or Salford, or Gateshead, in response to British media and academic criticism of Israel.

The Indy’s Gilbert, like other UK commentators, absurdly conflates mere criticism – and other forms of legitimate political activism – by Jews and pro-Israel groups (over what’s deemed to be anti-Israel bias or even antisemitism in the public sphere) with the kind of threats or intimidation (or even violence) exhibited by some groups which truly threatens freedom of expression in the West.

Robert Fisk plagued by hypocrisy in ugly smear of B’nai Brith Canada

On July 2nd we posted about a shameful smear, by the Independent’s “award-winning” Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk, of Canada’s leading Jewish human rights organization, B’nai Brith.

B’nai Brith’s crime, per Fisk, is that they used the “disease” metaphor when characterizing antisemitism – in the context of commenting on an ADL commissioned poll which found that 4 million Canadians are antisemitic.

Fisk:

Not long ago, I was handed the most outrageous, vile, dishonest and slanderous calumny uttered against the people of Canada. It was contained in a full-page advertisement in the National Post (founder, Conrad Black), a newspaper handed out – free, I’m happy to say – on my Air France flight out of Toronto. Here is the headline: “Almost 4 million Canadians are afflicted by this disease.”

the “disease” afflicting “almost 4 million Canadians” is “anti-Semitism” and this disgusting advertisement – published without comment by one of Canada’s leading right-wing newspapers – was produced by B’nai Brith Canada and the “Jewish Christian Alliance”.

But what, we have to ask, possesses Israel’s “friends” to publish this pernicious material about 4 million “diseased” Canadians? Does B’nai Brith Canada not realise that these very same despicable lies were used by the Nazis in their hate propaganda against the Jews of Europe? In Hitler’s Germany, Jews were described as microbes. Jews, according to Julius Streicher, were “the carriers of disease and vermin among men”. In August 1941, Goebbels called Jews “the carriers of infectious diseases” and two weeks later referred to Jews as “parasites”. By November, he was calling them “lice”. But now, 4 million Canadians carry “disease”. Undiagnosed “infections” will be passed on to children and grandchildren. The “community” is in danger of being “contaminated”. 

We noted that Fisk’s facile logic suggested that since both groups (B’nai Brith and the Nazis) used the disease metaphor in some manner – albeit one to characterize Jews and another to characterize those who hate Jews – both are nonetheless guilty of using Nazi-style propaganda. 

Following our post, the Indy published a letter by Yiftah Curiel, Spokesperson for the Israel Embassy in London, which also demonstrates Fisk’s egregious hypocrisy in leveling such a charge:

Robert Fisk (30 June) is disgusted at the use by B’nei Brith Canada of terms such as “disease”, “contamination”, and “infection”, to describe the worrying phenomenon of anti-Semitism. He bemoans the fact that these terms were used by the Nazis against Jews.

Interestingly, Fisk has used the same terminology himself, referring to his wish “not to be contaminated by the war crimes of Israel’s pilots” (Voices, 20 November 2012), and when referring to Israel’s “cancerous threat of war” against Iran (24 November 2013).

The logic is as follows:  a Jewish organisation is wrong to use terms used by the Nazis, while he, Fisk, is at liberty to use these very “Nazi” terms when discussing Israel.

Yiftah Curiel

Spokesperson, Embassy of Israel, London W8

CiF Watch prompts improved Indy headline in story of murdered Palestinian

Earlier, we came across an Indy headline in a report about the Palestinian riots taking place in east Jerusalem over the death of a Palestinian teen who many believe may have been the victim of a revenge attack. (Note, Elder of Ziyon and Harry’s Place also posted on this earlier.)

israel

We then emailed Indy editors to ask about the strange wording.  Specifically, we asked if the first three words (Israel murdered teenagers) indicate the topic of the article, as in “regarding the murdered Israeli teenagers…”, or, rather, if it was supposed to support the theory that the Palestinian teen in question – 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir – was in fact murdered by an Israeli in a nationalist attack.

An Indy editor replied and told us that it was meant to convey the former, and wasn’t intended to suggest that the Palestinian was definitely killed in a revenge attack by an Israeli. 

Then, Elder noted that that they tweaked the headline to this, merely changing “Israel” to “Israeli”, and making it equally unclear.

israeli

More recently, they changed it again, to something more understandable. 

new change

Whilst UK media coverage of the Palestinian teen’s death has thus far been extremely one-sided in embracing the yet unproven theory that he was murdered in revenge, we’re at least glad that the Indy headline in question no longer suggests that this is a proven fact. 

Update: Harry’s Place also contacted Indy editors over the original headline.

CiF Watch prompts 2nd Guardian correction to claim the murdered teens were ‘settlers’

A July 2nd article by Haroon Siddique, Matthew Weaver and Peter Beaumont (Palestinian demonstrators clash with police over suspected revenge attackopened with the following passage:

settlers

However, as a previous CiF Watch-prompted Guardian correction (to a July 13th article by Peter Beaumont) indicated, Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar and Naftali Frankel were NOT all “settlers”.

Shortly after complaining to Guardian editors (within the past hour) over this latest error, they corrected the passage.

It now reads:
corrected
The following addendum was also added:
addendum

We commend Guardian editors on their speedy correction.

(Note: CiF Watch also prompted a correction to a June 15th article at the Independent over the same false claim.)

Telling Lies about Israel: Robert Fisk cites misleading Begin quote about ‘two-legged beasts’

There is much to object to in Robert Fisk’s latest op-ed at the Independent suggesting a moral equivalence between the intentional murder of innocent Israeli teens by terrorists and Palestinian teens unintentionally killed during the course of anti-terror operations, but there’s also a blatant fabrication – one which he employed previously in a 2001 op-ed titled ‘Telling the truth about Israel‘.

Here’s the quote by Fisk in Israeli teenagers’ funeral: It is obscene when either side kills children – not only Palestinians‘, July 1.

But the obscene theatre of the Israeli-Palestinian war follows a script as scandalous as it is lethal. This week, the Israeli Prime Minister called the Palestinians who killed three Israelis “beasts”. So what? Didn’t Menachem Begin call Palestinians “two-legged animals” in 1982?

However, what Begin said – per a superb expose by CAMERA in 2004 (addressing Fisk’s first use of the false quote) was that those who come to kill Jewish children are “two-legged animals”.

In fact, if you Google the quote you’ll see that the source generally given is an article by a radical French-Israeli journalist, Amnon Kapeliouk, titled “Begin and the Beasts,” which appeared in the New Statesman, June 25, 1982.  

Here’s Kapeliouk’s claim:

For this reason the government has gone to extraordinary lengths to dehumanise the Palestinians. Begin described them in a speech in the Knesset as “beasts walking on two legs“.

However, the actual speech upon which Kapeliouk based his quote gives it a completely different meaning. Begin was talking, not about “the Palestinians” but about terrorists who target children within Israel, during a June 8, 1982 speech he gave in the Knesset in response to a no-confidence motion over Israel’s invasion of Lebanon.

In the context of talking about defending the children of Israel from terror attacks, he said the following:

The children of Israel will happily go to school and joyfully return home, just like the children in Washington, in Moscow, and in Peking, in Paris and in Rome, in Oslo, in Stockholm and in Copenhagen. The fate of… Jewish children has been different from all the children of the world throughout the generations. No more. We will defend our children. If the hand of any two-footed animal is raised against them, that hand will be cut off, and our children will grow up in joy in the homes of their parents.

But, here there are Katyushas, missiles and artillery shells day and night, with the sole intention of murdering our women and children. There are military targets in the Galilee. What a characteristic phenomenon, they are protected, completely immune to these terrorists. Only at the civilian population, only to shed our blood, just to kill our children, our wives, our sisters, our elderly. 

He clearly wasn’t characterizing ‘Palestinians’ as two-legged/footed beasts/animals, only those who would murder innocent children.

There is of course a profound difference between referring to Palestinians who murder Israeli children in cold blood as “two-footed animals”, and using such demonizing language to characterize all Palestinians.

The Independent’s “award-winning” Middle East correspondent should be ashamed of himself for peddling such falsehoods.

Robert Fisk accuses B’nai Brith Canada of peddling lies “used by the Nazis”.

The latest column by Robert Fisk – the Independent’s “award-winning” Middle East correspondent - contains the usual distortionshalf-truths and fabrications, as well as an especially appalling smear of Canadian Jewry’s largest human rights organization, B’nai Brith.

The inspiration for his latest polemical tirade – oddly titled ‘How on earth can Israel tolerate this filth from B’nai Brith Canada?‘ - was an advert in the National Post.

Fisk begins:

Not long ago, I was handed the most outrageous, vile, dishonest and slanderous calumny uttered against the people of Canada. It was contained in a full-page advertisement in the National Post (founder, Conrad Black), a newspaper handed out – free, I’m happy to say – on my Air France flight out of Toronto. Here is the headline: “Almost 4 million Canadians are afflicted by this disease.”

Beneath this title is a half-page, very blurred and uncaptioned colour photo of a large crowd – they could be football supporters, rush-hour commuters in Vancouver, you name it; they are mostly white males but include women and with at least one dark-skinned man close to the camera. Beneath the picture, this incredible ad continues: “Left unchecked, it [the disease] can result in violence tendencies. Many times, those infected haven’t been diagnosed and may pass it on to their children, grandchildren, colleagues or friends. Please help stop the spread of this disease before it contaminates your community.”

the “disease” afflicting “almost 4 million Canadians” is “anti-Semitism” and this disgusting advertisement – published without comment by one of Canada’s leading right-wing newspapers – was produced by B’nai Brith Canada and the “Jewish Christian Alliance”.

Fisk fails to note that the advert’s claim is based on a well-publicized poll commissioned by Anti-Defamation League which, in gauging antisemitic attitudes around the word, determined that 14% of Canadians hold antisemitic views.

He then begins his tirade against the ‘false’ accusation of antisemitism:

In other words, this pro-Israeli Jewish group – whose exaggerations and hateful propaganda have been rightly condemned by Jewish Canadians – claims that four million of their fellow-countrymen and women are sick, racist neo-Nazis

Of course, B’nai Brith does not claim that 4 million Canadians are “neo-Nazi” style racists.  In fact, the group’s press release on the ADL poll contextualized levels of antisemitism in Canadian society quite soberly in arguing that “these results clearly show that Canadians are being exposed to mediums containing antisemitic messaging, since almost a third of respondents have little to no contact with the Canadian Jewish community directly”.  Another B’nai Brith press release on the ADL poll correctly noted that the levels of antisemitism in Canada are “relatively low” compared to other parts of the world. 

Fisk continues:

Now let’s forget that B’nai Brith regards any criticism of the state of Israel – however justified, however mild, made by Jews and non-Jews alike – as anti-Semitic.

Again, this is a lie, one typically peddled by those who downplay antisemitism.  B’nai Brith has often used language which clearly distinguishes between legitimate criticism of Israel and that criticism which evokes anti-​Semitic canards.  In fact, on the site of B’nai Brith Canada there’s a fact sheet by the group’s senior legal counsel David Matas which makes their position quite clear:

 It is legitimate to criticize discriminatory practices wherever they are found, whether in Israel or elsewhere.

However, to criticize alleged discrimination only in Israel and in no other country of the world becomes a political act of selective criticism, itself a form of discrimination against Israel.

Fisk is fighting a straw man. As, there is no major Jewish organization we are aware of which has ever claimed – explicitly or implicitly – that “any criticism of Israel” is antisemitic.

Fisk’s rant continues:

 Let’s forget previous protests by Jewish Americans against the organisation’s grotesque exaggerations. Let’s even ignore its equation of Palestinians with Nazis…

However, the ad in question did not equate “Palestinians with Nazis”, only the antisemitic goals of Radical Islamic groups (such as Hezbollah) with that of the Nazis.

Further in the article, after criticizing Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s condemnation of antisemitism, Fisk throws in a Nazi comparison of his own:

But what, we have to ask, possesses Israel’s “friends” to publish this pernicious material about 4 million “diseased” Canadians? Does B’nai Brith Canada not realise that these very same despicable lies were used by the Nazis in their hate propaganda against the Jews of Europe? In Hitler’s Germany, Jews were described as microbes. Jews, according to Julius Streicher, were “the carriers of disease and vermin among men”. In August 1941, Goebbels called Jews “the carriers of infectious diseases” and two weeks later referred to Jews as “parasites”. By November, he was calling them “lice”. But now, 4 million Canadians carry “disease”. Undiagnosed “infections” will be passed on to children and grandchildren. The “community” is in danger of being “contaminated”. If this stuff was not so revolting, it could be laughed off.

In addition to the shameful smear, his logic is stunning – and goes something like this: 

  1. Nazi propagandists used the “disease” metaphor to characterize the threat posed by world Jewry.
  2. B’nai Brith Canada used the word “disease” to characterize the threat posed by anti-Jewish racism.
  3. Ergo, since both groups used the disease metaphor – albeit one to characterize Jews and another to characterize those who hate Jews – both are nonetheless guilty of using Nazi-style propaganda.

It really is stunning that the Independent – a newspaper which prides itself on being guided by “enlightenment values” – can ‘tolerate such filth’

Fisk is certainly correct about one thing: ‘If this stuff was not so revolting, it could be laughed off’!