CiF Watch prompts 3rd correction over false claims that murdered Israeli teens were ‘settlers’

Since Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel were abducted and murdered by Palestinian terrorists last month, we’ve prompted two corrections to false claims (at the Independent and the Guardian) that the three teens were ‘settlers’. 

More recently, we contacted Indy editors about the following passage in an op-ed at the paper by the British-Israeli anti-Zionist historian (and Guardian contributor) Avi Shlaim.

Here’s the original:

He [Netanyahu] used the abduction of three young Jewish settlers on the West Bank as an excuse for a violent crackdown on Hamas supporters…

Recently, Indy editors once again agreed to correct the erroneous characterization of the three murdered boys, and the passage now reads:

He used the abduction of three Jewish teenagers on the West Bank as an excuse for a violent crackdown on Hamas supporters

We commend Indy editors for correcting Shlaim’s false claim. 

Indy suggests slick Israeli PR obscures truth about dead Palestinians (Updated)

The first sentence in Patrick Cockburn’s latest Indy op-ed provides enough insight into the ideological myopia of the British far-left to properly contextualize the rest of the piece.

To many readers the New York Times coverage of the war in Gaza comes across as neutered or as having a pro-Israeli bias

The risible claim (easily refuted by a large volume of CAMERA’s reports on the NYT’s coverage of Israel) introduces readers to the main narrative being advanced:

But not to Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador in Washington, who lambasts the paper for failing “to mention that a million Israelis were in bomb shelters yesterday as 100 rockets were fired at our civilian population.” 

Mr Dermer is considered so close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he has been called “Bibi’s brain”. He is also a former student and employee of Frank Luntz, the Republican strategist who produced a confidential booklet in 2009, promptly leaked, advising Israeli spokesmen how best to manipulate American and European public opinion

It is a sophisticated document based on wide-ranging opinion polls, suggesting, for instance, that the removal of Israeli settlements from the West Bank should be denounced as “a kind of ethnic cleansing”. Dr Luntz stresses that spokesmen must demonise Hamas, but above all emphasise that they feel for the sufferings of Palestinians as well as Israelis. As a sample of what they should say, he gives: “The day will come when Israeli children and Palestinian children will grow up together, play together, and work together side-by-side not just because they have to but because they want to.”

It’s as if Cockburn truly believes, and is asking readers to believe, that only Israel uses public opinion research to craft an effective message. 

However, it gets worse:

The problem about this approach is that it sounds particularly hypocritical when, according to Unicef, 230 children have been killed in Gaza, an average of ten a day, and 2,000 have been wounded by Israeli bombs, shells and bullets. Israeli spokesmen are now denying their responsibility for the most notorious and televised atrocities such as the strike on the UN hospital [sic] last week…This is an old PR tactic, though not one recommended by Dr Luntz, which is sometime referred to as “first you say no story, then you say old story”. In other words, deny everything in the teeth of the evidence on day one and, by the time definitive proof of the massacre comes through, nobody notices when you have to admit responsibility.

He’s likely referring to the deaths of 15 Palestinians at a UN school (not a hospital) in Beit Hanoun, the one which a recently released video strongly suggests was not the result of an IDF shell. 

Further, Cockburn has it completely backwards. As we revealed in a post on July 28th, the UK media almost universally blamed Israel on the strike, and most media outlets haven’t updated their stories (or published new ones) even after the IDF released footage showing that their errant shell hit an empty school courtyard, and couldn’t have killed the 15 children, as Palestinians claimed.  

In other words, it’s the media – in classic hit ‘n run style journalism – which has ‘moved on’ after rushing to judge Israel. a dynamic which is the opposite of what Cockburn’s claims. 

Cockburn continues:

A problem here is that propaganda that works in a short war comes back to haunt you in a longer one. This is now happening in Gaza. Israeli air and artillery strikes and Hamas mortars and rockets are often presented as if they balanced each other out in terms of lethality. But the most important statistic here is that some 1,100 Palestinians have been killed as opposed to three civilians in Israel.

First, Cockburn conveniently neglects to note, in addition to the three civilians, 53 Israeli soldiers have been killed in the war.  As far as the “lack of symmetry”, it does indeed exist, but not in the manner Cockburn describes.  While Israeli strikes are aimed at legitimate military targets in Gaza, Hamas rockets are exclusively fired at Israeli civilians (all of which represent war crimes), and intentionally use their own civilians as human shields (another war crime).

The moral imbalance between the two sides couldn’t be starker. 

Again, Cockburn:

Despite his tutoring by Dr Luntz, Mr Dermer only speaks these days to the converted. Attending a Christians United for Israel Summit in Washington he replied to protesters who called him a “war criminal” by saying that “the truth is that the Israeli Defence Forces should be given a Nobel Peace Prize”. Stuff like this may explain why a Gallup poll shows that among Americans aged between 18 and 29 some 51 per cent said Israel’s actions were unjustified while only 23 per cent said they were. 

Cockburn neglects to mention that this same Gallup poll showed that a plurality of Americans, representing all age groups, believe Israel’s actions to be justified.  Conversely, when asked about Hamas’s actions, 70% believe they are unjustified, while only 11% believe them to be justified.  Such results are consistent with Gallup polling about Americans support for Israel over the past four decades, consistently showing overwhelming bi-partisan support for the Jewish State.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the Indy chose to Tweet Cockburn’s op-ed using the following text and graphic:

capture

In addition to the fact that the tweet contradicts Cockburn’s claims (that Israel is NOT in fact able to hide what they’re doing from the world), it’s telling that they decided to use a photo purportedly showing rows and rows of Palestinian caskets – Palestinian deaths Israel is presumably ‘hiding from the world’ – when, as a report in an Italian newspaper indicates, the coffins were merely props as part of an anti-Israel protest.

However, as the Indy, Guardian and New York Times clearly know from years of experience, even erroneous or misleading evidence putatively demonstrating Israeli culpability in Palestinian suffering can be an extremely effective tool to “manipulate American and European public opinion”.

UPDATE: Shortly after our post was published, we noticed that the Indy re-Tweeted the story with a new photo and, interestingly, different text – this time consistent with the substance of Cockburn’s post. 

new tweet pic

Robert Fisk is worried about terror threat posed by ‘radicalized British Zionists’

 An article in the Independent on June 22nd reported that “hundreds of veteran fighters from Syria and Iraq are already back in Britain, among them radicalized jihadists intent on mounting terror attacks”.  In a speech last October, MI5 director-general Andrew Parker said: “A growing proportion of our casework now has some link to Syria, mostly concerning individuals from the UK who have traveled to fight there or who aspire to do so.” Even more troubling, according to the Financial Times “more than half of MI5’s anti-terror investigations involve Britons who have travelled to fight in Syria“.

While it’s well-known that the 7/7 London bombers trained in jihadist camps in Pakistan, and that the main suspect in the murder of Lee Rigby attempted to train with a group linked to al-Qaeda, the threat posted by radicalized European Islamists was illustrated more recently when it was reported that the terrorist who murdered four at the Brussels Jewish Museum spent over a year in Syria training with “jihadist terrorist groups”.

Nonetheless, despite such incidents, the threat which seems to keep Robert Fisk up at night is one of fairness – the question of whether British security agencies are equally keeping an eye on a potentially radicalized group of another religious tradition.

In a truly risible column at the Indy on July 28th titled “It’s not just radicalised Islamists – what about foreign fighters who flock to the IDF?”, Fisk writes the following:

Now I think it’s a good idea that the lads in blue are keeping their eyes open at Heathrow for British citizens who’ve been fighting in the Middle East. I hope they are doing a thorough job of it – and I mean thorough. I don’t want to bump into a chap who’s been firing missiles at Christian families in Syria. But on the other hand, I also don’t want to bump into a chap who’s been firing tank shells into the homes of Palestinians in Gaza.

it would be very interesting to know if the British government is taking as close an interest as it should in any UK citizens – even if they have any other passports – who have been fighting in Israeli uniform in Gaza in the past couple of weeks.

First, can Fisk cite even one example in the history of Israel of a foreign-born IDF soldier who returned to his former country (be it the UK, US, France, Australia or anywhere else) and committed an act of terrorism?

Moreover, while we don’t have inside information into the workings of that nation’s intelligence agencies, our humble guess is that citizens in the UK can relax, and be confident that there is no intel suggesting that ‘radicalized Zionists’ in neighborhoods like Hendon, Stamford Hill and Golders Green are even conceiving of (yet alone plotting) terror attacks on British soil.

UK media fail to report evidence contradicting presumption of IDF guilt in UN school deaths

On July 25th we posted about the UK media’s rush to judgement after 15 Palestinian civilians were reportedly killed at a UNWRA school in the Gaza city of Beit Hanoun last Thursday. The Guardian, Independent, The Times, The Telegraph, Daily Mail, and Daily Mirror were among the publications which immediately blamed Israel hours after the incident, despite the dearth of evidence at the time.

However, as we noted in our most recent post last night (July 27), an Israeli army inquiry into the fighting at the UN facility in Beit Hanoun found that IDF mortars did NOT play a role in the killing of 16 people in the school courtyard. The army admitted that an errant IDF-fired shell did hit the UN-run school’s yard, but at a time when there were evidently no people in the area – as the video further in this post shows.

More details were provided by IDF spokesman Peter Lerner, who told reporters yesterday that the IDF had returned fired at Hamas targets (which were stationed near the school) on the day in question, and that one of the errant tank mortars landed in the school courtyard, “injuring no one“. Lerner said it was “extremely unlikely” that anyone had been killed by the mortar round that fell in the empty yard. Lerner also noted that it was quite “out of the ordinary” that Palestinian health officials in Gaza did not share the nature of the wounds of the casualties, which may have shed light on the causes of death.

Here’s the IDF video we posted yesterday, which shows the errant tank shell landing in what appears to be a vacant school yard:

Now, let’s look back at the UK news organizations which immediately blamed Israel for the attack on the UN school.

The Guardian, July 25 (One of the lead stories)

guardian

The Guardian, July 25 (Additional story on the attack)

guardian 3

The Guardian, July 24 (Their initial video report on the attack)

guardian 2

(Additional live blog updates on the incident on July 24 at the Guardian similarly judged Israel guilty in the attack, and downplayed evidence of Hamas culpability.)

The Independent, July 24 (One of the lead stories)

indy

The Times

times

The Times, July 24 (An updated article by Catherine Philp of the one seen above included a headline charging Israel with committing a “massacre”)

massacre

Telegraph, July 24

telegraph 1

Telegraph, July 24

telegraph 2

 Daily Mail, July 24

daily mail

Daily Mirror, July 24

mirror

Not one of these UK news sites, at the time of this post, have revised their original articles or published a new story which includes the IDF’s new video evidence. 

Since the new information at the very least calls into question the accuracy of the initial reports, editors should take note of the clause in the Editor’s Code of Practice which demands the following:

A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and – where appropriate – an apology published. 

Sky News asks admitted anti-Semite her views on the rise of UK antisemitism!

We haven’t been monitoring Sky News long enough to provide a broader analysis of their coverage of the war in Gaza, but their decision (yesterday) to interview Mira Bar-Hillel (a British journalist who has admitted to being prejudiced against Jews), on the question of whether antisemitism in the UK will rise as a result of the conflict, reads like something in the parody site, The Onion.

Briefly, for those unfamiliar with Ms. Bar-Hillel (who contributes to the Independent), here’s a few facts about her own views about Jews:

She has complained that Jews (per the Livingstone Formulation) smear people unfairly with the charge of antisemitism to “gag into submission any critic of Israel”.

She recently evoked Nazi Germany in characterizing Israeli racism and IDF military actions in Gaza.

She has accused British Jews (collectively) of ‘bombing Gaza’.

She bizarrely claimed that British Jews don’t criticize Israeli actions in Gaza out of fear of being “ex-communicated” from the Jewish community,

She has admitted to being prejudiced against Jews. Here are her exact words:

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. 

Now, let’s go the simply surreal Sky News interview:

Here are a few observations:

  • Bar-Hillel claims that the failure of British Jews to speak out about Israeli ‘crimes’ in Gaza is what causes antisemitism – a perfect example of holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel, an accusation defined as antisemitic by the EUMC Working Definition.
  • The female Sky News co-host asks a follow-up question (at roughly the 1:40 mark) to Bar-Hillel which parrots the claim that Jews label all criticism of Israel antisemitic.
  • Neither Sky News host challenges her when she smears the UK Jewish community, by suggesting that British Jews are culpable for not speaking out against Israel.
  • Neither Sky News host challenges her claim (at roughly the 5:05 mark) that the only reason why the West supports Israel is because of guilt over the Holocaust.
  • More broadly, note that in a Sky News program about antisemitism, they didn’t seek the expertise of The CST (the British charity tasked with protecting Jews against antisemitism), or any official body which actually represents UK Jews, but, rather, a marginal commentator who has admitted to not being part of the Jewish community. If, for instance, they would have asked representatives from The CST, they would have provided data demonstrating that antisemitism has indeed increased in the UK since the beginning of the war.

Finally, if you believe, as we do, that this Sky News segment not only had the effect of smearing the UK Jewish community, but violating Ofcom’s rules on impartiality in news and current affairs, please consider filing an Ofcom complaint.

Guardian incites the crowd: Israel quickly blamed for Gaza school attack

Is there any provocation in which bombing schools and hospitals can be deemed a proportionate response by a civilized state?

The above quote was just a stray comment (in response to media reports about the attack on a UN school in Gaza yesterday) by an acquaintance on Facebook, but it  sums up exactly what happens when the media presumes the worse about Israel before the facts are in, ignoring counter evidence.

The incident occurred yesterday when 15 Palestinian civilians were killed at a UN school in Beit Hanoun – an assault that both Hamas and Israel claim might well be the fault of the other.

Though all the facts aren’t completely clear, here’s what we do know:

  • According to the IDF, there has been, for several days, continuous fire by Hamas from near the UN school (representing a violation of international law). However, before retaliating, the IDF attempted (over the course of three days) to facilitate the evacuation of all civilians per an official humanitarian window from 10:00 to 14:00 on Thursday – a temporary ceasefire which was evidently communicated to the UN and International Red Cross. 
  • As far as the tank shells or rockets which may have hit the school on Thursday, resulting in the civilian casualties, we know that, according to official sources, IDF sensors detected ‘errant’ Hamas rockets falling at least in the neighborhood of the school. It is also is being reported that Hamas fired at the IDF from near the Beit Hanoun school and that “soldiers responded by targeting the source of the fire”, tank fire which may have hit the school or the area around the school.
  • So, while we know that Hamas was once again using its illegal human shield strategy at the school in Beit Hanoun to shield its fighters, as of now, the UN still hasn’t determined whether Hamas rockets or IDF tank shells were ultimately to blame.

So, though while the sequence of events are unclear at this point, a day after the tragedy, this didn’t stop the UK media’s immediate rush to judgment – blaming Israel for the Palestinian deaths, and ignoring Hamas’s use of human shields.

While some US media outlets were – quite tellingly – much more fair and circumspect in their initial assessments (avoiding headlines which blamed either side), the following headlines at the Guardian, Independent and Times (of London), published when very little information was known, indicate a troubling lack of restraint and objectivity. 

(First, here’s the Telegraph, the only major UK paper we reviewed that avoided immediately blaming Israel for the Palestinian deaths. Though the British tabloid The Daily Mail used an AP report with a similarly non-judgmental headline.)

telegraph

Now, for the others:

Owen Jones:

Indy, New Statesman and Guardian commentator Owen Jones Tweeted this, early in the morning on Thursday, before any facts were established (and even before major news sites reported the story), using the unproven allegation of an Israeli ‘atrocity’ to promote an anti-Israel event on Saturday.

owen jones tweet (2)

The Guardian being, well, the Guardian:

guardian

Guardian home page, July 24

(Additional Guardian reportsand live blog updates, on the incident yesterday and this morning similarly judged Israel guilty in the attack, and downplayed evidence of Hamas culpability)

Times (of London):

times

The Independent:

indy

One last thing. If you think that the media isn’t capable of employing restraint and avoiding the tempting rush to judgment, here’ are two stories featured side by side yesterday on the Indy’s Middle East page: one on the attack in Beit Hanoun and the other one focusing on reports that the Islamist extremist group ISIS (aka, The Islamic State) announced that women in the territory they control would be forced to undergo Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

unnamed

Independent, July 24th, Middle East page

It’s interesting that while the Indy was quick to defend the jihadist group from the ‘smear’ that they’re enforcing FGM, they showed no such concern for what may be another vicious libel against the Jewish state – one which, as we’ve seen, may have dangerous repercussions for Jews in the UK and across Europe.  

 

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.  

Related articles

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.