Rankin: The apology

Cross posted from the blog of the CST

Yesterday’s CST blog (scroll below, or see here) covered allegations by the celebs’ photographer Rankin about movie stars running scared of the power of American “Jewish zealots“.

Today’s Telegraph carries an apology from Rankin:

In an interview that was set up with The Independent about the launch of [a fashion magazine], I regret responding so glibly to off-topic questions on such a difficult and sensitive subject. Of course this is not my official position and I apologise wholeheartedly for my use of language and any offence this may have caused.

The article includes this quote from CST:

It’s allegations about Jewish power over the media that distinguishes anti-Semitism from other forms of racism.

Rankin may well not be an anti-Semite, in which case he should learn not to spread the stink of antisemitic claims about Jews running the media and Hollywood.

The Independent, which carried the offensive claims, today published this letter from CST:

Your article about Scarlett Johansson (Rankin and a new take on why Scarlett quit Oxfam) and the supposed “power of a far right pro-lsrael lobby within the US” was redolent of openly antisemitic smears about Jews running Hollywood and the media.

Worse, the article relied upon quotes by the photographer Rankin that actually made no mention of “pro-Israel”. Instead, you quoted him saying “the Jewish zealots are so powerful” and “the main problem for me in all this is that kind of extreme Judaism”.

Rankin is as “a humanitarian”, so is no antisemite, but he seems to repeats antisemitic conspiracy theory. What a fitting snapshot of antisemitism today.

All of which should help to draw a line under this, but who would bet how much time will pass before a mainstream UK media outlet carries another such article, in one form or another. (The AIPAC conference starts on 2nd March, so anybody betting beyond that date will likely be on a loser.)

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Independent: Rankin’s snapshot of antisemitism today

Cross posted from the blog of the CST

[Yesterday's] Independent carries an interview with celebrity photographer, Rankin. He inadvertently provides a brilliant snapshot of the paradox that underpins so much of today’s antisemitism.

Rankin speaks as “a humanitarian”, so presumably is no antisemite. Nevertheless, he repeats antisemitic conspiracy theory. That is the snapshot. It shows how modern (and old) antisemitism is about conspiracy theory, rather than race theory. As so often, the focus is against American Jews.

This is what it boils down to:

Jewish zealots…so powerful…kind of extreme Judaism…They will blacklist you…pro-Palestinian? F**king forget it…

Single names tend to denote Brazilian footballers, famous dead Russians, or really cool people – Rankin is the latter, a leading British photographer of fashionistas and luvvies.

Entitled “Rankin and a new take on why Scarlett quit Oxfam“, the Independent article by Jenn Selby quotes him as saying that Scarlett Johansson chose the Israeli company SodaStream over Oxfam because:

in America, the Jewish zealots are so powerful. Especially in the entertainment industry…what they could do to her career

Selby interviewed Rankin at length. In her article, she writes of his concerns, because apparently “the power of a far right pro-Israel lobby within the US makes it increasingly tough for creative artists to take the ethical high ground in favour of Palestinians“.

Actually, nowhere is Rankin actually quoted as saying “far right pro-Israel“. This appears to be Selby’s paraphrasing or interpretation of his remarks. Did the Independent notice this? Did Selby? It all shows how permeable the boundaries are. Rankin is also quoted as saying:

The main problem for me in all this is that kind of extreme Judaism.

What is this “kind of extreme Judaism“? He continues:

That extreme belief that this [ie Israel / Palestine] is their homeland and those people [ie Palestinians] are worthless to them. That’s very powerful in America. They will blacklist you. Its worse than McCarthyism. Are you pro-Palestinian? Forget it?

(The website version goes further than the print version, quoting, “You are pro-Palestinian? F**king forget it“.)

Of course, we can presume that Rankin is no antisemite. He tells us he is “fascinated from a humanitarian perspective” and is “just about human beings“. Nevertheless, here he is aping the blatant antisemitic smear about Jews running the media and Hollywood. It is all so typical of what Brendan O’Neill recently described as:

not a resurrection of old, explicitly racial fears of the Jews, but rather the mainstreaming of the [antisemitic] conspiratorial imagination

The antisemitic conspiratorial imagination is amplified by Rankin’s explanation of how this all supposedly works:

People have said to me that if you go to Palestine you will be put on a list and it doesn’t matter if you’re a humanitarian. You will be put on a list…I’m just about human beings.

Note the opener, “people have said to me…You will be put on a list“. And that is the conspiracy done.

Like all good photographers, Rankin has captured the essence of things.

Rankin names nobody. Not Steven Spielberg, not Aaron Sorkin and certainly not Woody Allen. Had he done so, perhaps the Independent’s lawyers would have stepped in on libel grounds. Instead, we can join the dots:

Jewish zealots…so powerful…kind of extreme Judaism…They will blacklist you…pro-Palestinian? F**king forget it…You will be put on a list.

Finally, it is deeply depressing to see this in the Independent. Any newspaper that regularly publishes Howard Jacobson’s stunning deconstructions and analyses of antisemitism cannot be simply dismissed as unknowing, far less as antisemitic. Similarly, its recent articles on French antisemite Dieudonne have been amongst the most impressive of any UK media outlet…and yet, it still photoshopped and published this repellent snapshot.

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Would the UK media normalize anti-black racism like they do with antisemitism?

Imagine if you read the following passages – an interview with politically conservative actor Jon Voight – in the New York Times culture section:

So why do affirmative action policies continue to be pervasive at university admission committees, in the procurement of government contracts and even at Fortune 500 companies? According to the acclaimed conservative actor Jon Voight, the power of black groups within the Obama administration makes it increasingly tough for there to be a rational discussion on the issue.

“I considered campaigning against affirmative action myself,” he told The New York Times.  But, he said he was informed by others that choosing to do this could have a bad impact on his livelihood.

“I think the reason that even the Republican Party doesn’t actively challenge the status quo on minority set-asides is because blacks and the politics of black victimhood exerts a suffocating grip on our political culture“, he said. 

The main problem for me in all this is that kind of black radicals. That extreme belief by blacks that they are entitled. They will label you a racist if you resist such an idea. It’s worse than McCarthyism.

Then, imagine, in such a hypothetical scenario, if the NYT culture critic responded to Voight’s words by dryly adding:

Hurt’s comments could stoke controversy.

Impossible to imagine, isn’t it?  

Any liberal NYT journalist who encountered such bigotry would surely not let it go unchallenged. Further, in such a scenario, Voight’s views on the ‘corrupting influence of African-Americans in the US’ would likely be the story’s lead, and surely not be downplayed or minimized.  It’s also likely that the liberal media would – quite justifiably – be abuzz with news of the Republican actor’s racist meltdown. 

While the exchange above was obviously fictional, the following (Rankin on Scarlett Johansson’s SodaStream advert: Why Hollywood stars can’t afford to be linked to Pro-Palestinian causes, Feb. 13) was actually published at The Independent:

So why did the actress [Scarlett Johansson] with the cleanest PR track record in Hollywood opt for the latter and part ways with [Oxfam]? According to [Rankin] the acclaimed photographer and director – who has not only worked with Johansson on a number of occasions, but has also shot for Oxfam in the Congo and in Kenya – the power of a far-right pro-Israeli lobby within the US makes it increasingly tough for creative artists to take the ethical high ground in favour of Palestinians.

“I asked, actually, Oxfam if I could go to Palestine because I’m interested in what happens in Palestine,” he told The Independent. But speaking of his desire to shine a light on the plight of the Palestinian people, he said he was informed by others that choosing to do this could have a bad impact on his livelihood.

I think the reason that she has not backed down is because in America, the Jewish zealots are so powerful. Especially in the entertainment industry… What they could do to her career,” he added, admitting he had “negative views” on SodaStream’s West Bank operation.

The main problem for me in all this is that kind of extreme Judaism. That extreme belief that this is their homeland and those people are worthless to them. That’s very powerful in America. They will blacklist you. It’s worse than McCarthyism…

The Indy’s Jenn Selby then merely added the following:

Rankin’s comments could stoke controversy, judging by the reaction to Seth McFarlane’s performance hosting the Oscars last year, when his character Ted suggested that only Jewish actors would be able to get jobs in Hollywood.

Has antisemitism become so socially acceptable within the media and among the cultural elite that most don’t blink an eye when a political figure, journalist or artist explains social or political problems by evoking the specter of powerful, malevolent Jewish forces in Hollywood and in Washington?

Whilst there is of course nothing wrong with the Indy publishing the interview – odious bigotry and all – we can’t help but be disturbed by the banality of the manner in which it was contextualized, indeed normalized.

As we’ve continually documented, narratives regarding the injurious influence of powerful Jews - previously relegated to the margins of the far right - have become increasingly acceptable within left-wing political discourse, and is often packaged as ‘progressive’, anti-establishment commentary. 

The continuing failure of otherwise sober and putatively enlightened voices to unequivocally condemn such rank expressions of anti-Jewish racism represents, at the minimum, an appalling moral abdication.

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Death of an anti-Israel lie? CiF Watch prompts 2nd revision to Indy torture story

Those who follow this blog (and other sites which monitor coverage of Israel) are all too familiar with the cycle of misinformation often propagated by media gatekeepers with a pronounced political agenda, by which smears spread rapidly across the traditional and social media before they can be effectively refuted.

Though a horribly misleading report at The Independent (Israel government tortures Palestinian children by keeping them in cages, human rights group says‘, Adam Withnall, Jan. 1) hasn’t quite gone viral, it’s impossible to know how many of their readers casually accepted their false allegations in the weeks it took us to garner corrections to their primary claim in the story, which can be summed up in their leading original sentence:

“An Israeli human rights organisation has accused the government of torturing Palestinian children after it emerged some were kept for months in outdoor cages during winter.”

The Indy evidently based its claim on a report in the Jerusalem Post on Dec. 31 which was based almost entirely on a report from the NGO PCATI (Public Committee Against Torture in Israel).  However, as we noted previously, the PCATI report in question is itself based on a report at the website of the Israel Public Defender’s Office (PDO), where you learn the much less sensational truth: the Israel Prison Service had, on occasion, held some Israelis who were arrested – for various crimes – in outdoor holding pens (for a couple of hours) until they were transported to court in the morning. This practice has since been ended. 

As we noted in previous posts, NOWHERE in the PDO’s statement (which they sent to the Israel Justice Ministry) do they use the word “Palestinians”, nor the word “torture”.

After our initial complaint to the Indy, the false charge that Palestinian children were caged for months was quickly amended and, more recently (following subsequent communication with their editors), they also agreed to make additional changes to more accurately reflect the actual language of the Public Defender’s Office’s statement.

This past Friday, the Indy finally removed all references to the word “Palestinians”, and included an addendum at the bottom of Withnall’s article noting that the change was prompted by their acknowledgement that the PDO never mentioned anything about Palestinians.

(Additionally, we’ve been in communication with editors at the Jerusalem Post over their report on the Public Defender’s Office complaint, and expect a reply soon.)

While the Indy correction represents a significant improvement over the original, what remains is still extremely misleading, as it suggests that a “human rights group” (PCATI) accused Israel of ‘torturing’ children, when the PCATI page in question does NOT characterize the ceased practice of keeping some prisoners in open-air cells for several hours (while in transit to court) as “torture”.  

There is of course a huge difference between an unfair or abusive detention practice and the outright ‘torture’ of prisoners, and it strains credulity to characterize what occurred at the IPS transition facility in Ramla as torture. 

Though it is of course the job of such NGOs to investigate any credible allegations of such abuse, it is the job of responsible journalists to accurately characterize the specific charges being leveled, and avoid false characterizations and hyperbole which mislead readers into believing something which either is completely untrue, or which egregiously distorts a few kernels of truth to advance an entirely misleading narrative.

Finally, Withnall’s hatchet job is especially galling in light of an official editorial published by the Indy in Oct. in which they emphatically denied charges leveled by some that they were guilty of demonizing Israel.

However, their decision to publish a sensational report with a scare headline falsely accusing the Israeli government of sadistically torturing Palestinian kids by holding them in outdoor cages for months during winter – among other libels they’ve published in recent months – significantly undermines their claim that they don’t engage in such reckless and libelous smears. 

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CiF Watch prompts correction to false Indy claim about “caged” Palestinian kids

A couple of hours ago we posted about a horribly misleading report in The Independent (Israel government tortures Palestinian children by keeping them in cages, human rights group says, Jan. 1) which included the following:

  • The broad, unsubstantiated insinuation, based on very vague wording in a report by the radical NGO PCATI, that Palestinian kids detained by Israeli security personnel are “tortured”.
  • The charge, based on completely uncorroborated allegations, based on a PCATI report, that Palestinian children are sexually abused while in custody.
  • The completely erroneous charge that Palestinian children were cagedfor months” -  an allegation which was not even leveled by PCATI, nor by anyone involved in the story.

Following our complaint to Indy editors, the word torture in the headline was placed in quotes and, more importantly, the false charge that Palestinian children were caged for months has been amended.

First, the strap line has been revised. Here’s the original:

strapNow, here the revised version:

revisedAlso, they revised the opening sentence of the story. Here’s the original:

unnamedNow, here’s the revised sentence:

new sentenceDespite this modest improvement, it’s still shameful that such sophomoric agitprop – which, as we noted, engages in a far greater degree of hyperbole than even Electronic Intifada’s post on the same story – saw the light of day in the first place, and evidently got past the eyes of Indy editors.

You may want to Tweet Adam Withnall, the Indy reporter responsible for the story, to respectfully note your objections.


The Independent or PressTV? Report falsely claims Palestinian kids were “caged” for months

Even by the standards of anti-Israel bias in the British media that we’re used to, a story published yesterday at The Independent is simply astonishing.

indyFirst, Indy editors evidently couldn’t find an actual photo of Palestinian children in “cages”, so they figured this would do just fine:

fenceIt’s only when we click on the top of the image when we see the caption and learn that the photo, from November, depicts children disembarking their school bus (along a fence) as they make their way home to Shuafat in eastern Jerusalem.

Then, there’s the following strap line:

strapThis fantastical charge, that Palestinian kids are being caged for “months” during winter, is repeated in the story – written by Adam Withnall:

An Israeli human rights organisation has accused the government of torturing Palestinian children after it emerged some were kept for months in outdoor cages during winter.

To back up this claim, they cite a report from the radical NGO PCATI (Public Committee Against Torture in Israel), a group with a history of leveling unsubstantiated accusations about the treatment of Palestinian detainees.

Withnall adds the following:

The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) published a report which said children suspected of minor crimes were subjected to “public caging”, threats and acts of sexual violence and military trials without representation.

However, when you go to the actual report (open the Word document at the bottom) at PCATI’s site, you learn that PCATI does not actually level specific charges that Palestinian children are being “tortured”, only that they are currently “investigating” some complaints of torture from over the past ten years.  

Second, there is NO specific claim in the report about the details of the open “caged” imprisonment, nor the length of time they are allegedly held there.  Further, as far as the “sexual violence” charge, there are no details provided in the PCATI report.  The only reference to the broad allegation is as a footnote at the bottom which claims the following:

[1] This [ill-treatment] includes threats and acts of sexual violence.

No evidence appears in the report:

Then, Withnall adds the following:

The country’s Public Defender’s Office (PDO) recently released details of one particularly shocking visit by its lawyers to a detention facility.

“During our visit, held during a fierce storm that hit the state, attorneys met detainees who described to them a shocking picture: in the middle of the night dozens of detainees were transferred to the external iron cages built outside the IPS transition facility in Ramla,” the PDO wrote on its website.

Indeed, if you go to the PDO website, you learn that recently some detainees spent a number of hours in outdoor (open-air) jails until the arrival of the guard (who was supposed to take them to the courts) at around 6 a.m. The statement further clarifies that this practice under which detainees sometimes wait for the guard in outdoor “cages” for several hours has existed in the IPS for a number of months. (Translation from the Hebrew by CAMERA).  So, the word “months” clearly only refers to the length of time this practice has allegedly existed – not the length of time children were held there.  

Further, as the Indy acknowledged, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni called for the practice to be stopped as soon as she learned of it.

So, in conclusion:

The Indy’s charge that Palestinian children were caged “for months” is completely untrue.

The charge that Palestinian children are sexually abused is not backed up with any evidence.

The broader charge that Palestinian kids are “tortured” is unsubstantiated.

Finally, to give you a sense of perspective, not even Electronic Intifada or Russia Today (both of which ran stories over the last couple of days on the PCATI report) make claims as sensational as what the Indy reported.

As we’ve demonstrated previously, the Indy’s recent broad claim - in an official editorial – that the paper does NOT demonize Israel is clearly as fanciful a notion as Adam Withnall’s specific smear about ‘tortured Palestinian children’.

UPDATE: Following our complains, Indy editors amended the article.

Indy columnist who ‘fears Jews’ smears the Jewish State

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. Mira Bar-Hillel

Mira Bar-Hillel represents proof that the stubborn reality of Israel’s progressive advantages in the region in the civil rights protections afforded to minority groups, and the absence of anything resembling codified discrimination, aren’t impediments for anti-Zionist commentators who wish to smear the state with the charge of Apartheid.


Interestingly, Bar-Hillel’s Dec. 13 op-ed in The Independent, Israel and Apartheid: Confused? You will be‘, deals almost entirely with issues tangential to the narrative she’s trying to advance, such as Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision not to attend Nelson Mandela’s memorial, and Israeli arms sales to Pretoria in the 70s and 80s (which, contrary to her suggestion, actually represented a miniscule percentage of the regime’s military imports).  

So, Bar-Hillel actually bases her insinuation of a parallel between Apartheid South Africa and Israel on two sentences in her final paragraph:

Maps which were only revealed in the past few days show how the Israelis plan to create bantustans for the Nomadic Bedouin in its southern Negev region. Tens of thousands of them would be forced into ghettoes to make way for new Jewish towns and military zones. A-word, anyone?

Of course, the word “bantustans” was used by the Indy columnist specifically because of its common association with a system of codified racial segregation in South Africa.  According to the common definition of the term, it refers to the following:

Bantustan, also known as Bantu homeland, South Africa homeland, or black state,  any of 10 former territories that were designated by the white-dominated government of South Africa as pseudo-national homelands for the country’s black African (classified by the government as Bantu) population during the mid- to late 20th century. The Bantustans were a major administrative device for the exclusion of blacks from the South African political system under the policy of apartheid, or racial segregation.

The 1959 Promotion of Bantu Self-Government Act relabeled the reserves as “homelands,” or Bantustans, in which only specific ethnic groups were to have residence rights. Later, the Bantu Homelands Citizenship Act of 1970 defined blacks living throughout South Africa as legal citizens of the homelands designated for their particular ethnic groups—thereby stripping them of their South African citizenship and their few remaining civil and political rights. 

In contrast to such racist legislation, what’s known in Israel as the Prawer-Begin Plan (the plan, recently shelved by the government, which Bar-Hillel is alluding to) represented an effort to settle the problem of 70-90,000 Israeli-Bedouin living in unrecognized villages in the Israeli Negev, and the resulting land claims.  The plan would have legalized a large majority of the unrecognized land, but called for roughly one-third of this population to relocate (with full compensation in money and land) to recognized, planned and developed towns within a few kilometers of their current homes.

Alternatively, as these Israeli-Bedouin are Israeli citizens with full civil rights protected under the law, they could of course choose to live elsewhere – indeed anywhere in the country.  Bar-Hillel’s suggestion that even one Israeli Bedouin would be forced into a “bantustan” (conveying to readers the impression that they’ll be legally segregated from the rest of Israeli society) is a total lie.

As Bar-Hillel continues to engage in such smears, half-truths and distortions about Israel, it’s becoming evident that “the Jews of today” scare her a lot more than her increasing notoriety as a bigoted, dishonest journalist.

Lunacy by Robert Fisk: Indy journalist blames Israel for US abuses in Iraq

Robert Fisk’s latest exploration into the Israeli heart of darkness for The Independent (An obsessive’s documenting of Israeli war crimes in Lebanon can show us how the West lost respect for international law, Dec. 8) begins thus:

Odd [Norwegian journalist] Karsten Tveit was always a very obsessional chap. Every story he covered, he always wanted to dig deeper, study further, hear one more tale of horror, one more joke, one more historical fact.  We all covered the story of Israel’s wars in Lebanon, in 1978, in 1982, in 1996, in 2006. Over the years, I covered the story of Israel’s torturers in Khiam jail in southern Lebanon, the massive Ansar prison camp in 1982, the frightful interrogation of Lebanese and Palestinian inmates.

However, while the extent of Israeli involvement with the Khiam prison during the Lebanese Civil War is debatable, it’s clear that Khiam was run by the South Lebanese Army, and that the torturers were almost certainly Lebanese.

Nevertheless, such misleading suggestions of Israeli guilt are not the worst part of his story.  The most egregious examples of Fisk’s tortured logic can be seen in the following passages:

And I wondered, reading this shameful narrative [of Israeli brutality], why we were so surprised when we found that the American military were torturing and killing prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Karsten says at one point that Israeli soldiers in the occupation zone in southern Lebanon – the Israelis called it a ‘security zone’, a description that many newspapers gutlessly repeated – were joint Israeli-American nationals. Did any of them also serve in the American army in Iraq?

The mass prison camp at Ansar sounds like a hot version of Guantanamo. And when the US repeatedly vetoed UN Security Council resolutions condemning Israel’s treatment of Lebanese civilians, I wonder whether somehow that’s when American governments lost their respect for international law – as they showed in their treatment of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan (or the Iraqi invasion itself).

No word other than lunacy can fairly characterize such a conclusion.  Fisk is claiming that the alleged Israeli brutality in Lebanon arguably influenced US abuses of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo – as well as the country’s loss of “respect for international law” more broadly!

His sole piece of evidence? The possibility that a few American-Israelis (“joint Israeli-American nationals”) who served in southern Lebanon in the early 80s may have returned to the US and then served in the US Army in Iraq (20 years later!) in the early 2000s, infecting US troops with their ‘odious’ Israeli values. 

If serious questions arise from the fact that Fisk’s rant was published as a ‘serious analysis’, it relates to the following spirited defense by Indy editors to charges leveled by Alex Brummer. Here’s part of what they wrote in an Oct. 4 editorial titled ‘Neither Israel nor the broader Jewish community is demonised by this newspaper’.

In a throwaway remark on Radio 4’s Today yesterday, Alex Brummer, City Editor of the Daily Mail, said: “In comparison with The Guardian and The Independent, which frequently demonises Israel, and in so doing demonises the broader Jewish community, [the Daily Mail] is right behind them.” The Guardian can speak for itself. In relation to The Independent, Mr Brummer’s claim is false, myopic, wilfully ignorant, an offence against the integrity of our staff, and an insult to you, our readers.

It is true that, since its founding in 1986, The Independent has championed Enlightenment values; and there have been times when the actions of the Israeli government have not  been driven by enlightened thinking.

Our coverage of Israel is led by our multiple award-winning Middle East Correspondent, Robert Fisk. Mr Fisk, in three decades reporting on that region, understands it better than most of those who slander him, and has been at pains to distinguish between opposition to Israeli policy and anti-Semitism. For 13 of his years at The Independent, he was edited by Simon Kelner, a man of Jewish provenance who has done a very great deal to support Britain’s Jewish diaspora.

Leaving aside the evidently exculpatory evidence pertaining to the “Jewish provenance” of Fisk’s editor, it’s unclear how any serious (“enlightened”) paper can publish such a fantastical account – one suggesting that torture by Arab soldiers at the Khiam jail in Lebanon in the 70s and the mistreatment by military police of the US Army in Iraq (presumably at Abu Ghraib) in 2003 has a Zionist root cause.

Though we of course have no idea if Fisk’s well-documented Israel obsession is influenced by antisemitism, we can certainly conclude that much of his work at the Indy doesn’t even resemble the professional journalism of a serious Middle East correspondent.

Sally Idwedar ‘forgets’ to mention the H-word in her Indy essay on “life in Gaza”

Sally Idwedar is just your average girl living in Gaza.  


She’s also a blogger who, at some point in her life, acted “on impulse”, quit her corporate job in Washington D.C. and made “Aliyah” to Gaza to start her life anew. 

Idwedar also just published an essay at The Independent describing life in the Palestinian controlled territory. 


Her polemic on the difficulties of life in the Strip as the result of Israeli villainy includes the following passages:

I was thinking about how I would start to write about life in Gaza – how I would lay the words out with eloquence – when suddenly an explosion boomed close by and those thoughts fled my mind.I didn’t know the source; maybe it was internal training or perhaps another air strike.

The UN issued a report last week saying Gaza is becoming uninhabitable and the humanitarian conditions are deteriorating – sadly that is true.

Two weeks ago the sewage pumping stations stopped working in many areas – they simply did not have the fuel to work. Raw sewage leaks into the streets. Fathers carry their children to get to school and most cars won’t venture into it. The sludge reeks and brings mosquitoes in swarms.

There is fear it will end up in the water supply as well…


This is life in Gaza now: a constant struggle to find the bare necessities.

As Elder of Ziyon observed today in his post on Idwedar’s ‘meditation’, she oddly doesn’t use the word “Hamas” even once.  

This omission is even more glaring in light of her own Twitter battle with Richard “faux scoop” Silverstein (richards1052) in October (as noted by the blog Israellycool) where she was much less reticent about using the ‘H-word’.  Indeed, Idwedar’s exchange with the evidently pro-Hamas Jewish blogger is especially revealing in light of her complaint about Gaza sewage noted above.  

Who needs to take action?

Who could import needed parts?

Finally, just in case there’s any doubt as to who precisely she’s criticizing:

Yet, for some reason, Idwedar indeed “tried to hide” her opposition to the Islamist group in her more than 1100 word first person account of the “constant struggle to find the bare necessities” in Gaza.

I simply can’t imagine why.

The Guardian corrects false Palestinian “political prisoner” claim

As we’ve noted previously, CiF Watch has been able to leverage information we obtained from the Israel Justice Ministry on the 104 pre-Oslo Palestinian prisoners, who are to be released as a concession to resume peace talks, to prompt corrections to false characterizations of these Palestinians as “political prisoners” at the Guardian and Independent. 

We demonstrated conclusively (per a detailed report on the prisoners translated and published exclusively by CAMERA) that most of the 104 Palestinians were convicted in Israeli courts (before the signing of the Oslo Agreements in September 1993) for murder, attempted murder or being an accessory to murder.  Thus, British media efforts to paint these violent criminals as “political prisoners” (a term which refers to those imprisoned for their political beliefs) were impossible to defend.

Whilst the corrections we obtained thus far were prompted by communication between CiF Watch and the editors of the British papers in question, yesterday we noticed that the Guardian issued a correction, to an Oct. 31 report by Matthew Kalman on the recent release of the latest round of 26 pre-Oslo prisoners, before we contacted them.

corexYes, they indeed “erred”, but we’re glad to see the correction.

Though this may seem like a narrow issue to some, it needs to be understood as part of the British media’s increasing tendency to submit to the corruption and politicization of ordinary language by radical ideologies which attempt to turn truth, logic and moral common sense upside down.  

It is quite urgent that we continue to resist efforts to mainstream such horribly misleading euphemisms, so please contact us if you see other examples of British media reports on the Palestinian prisoner release issue which employ such propagandistic terms.



British journalist who admitted to anti-Jewish prejudice plays ‘dual loyalty’ card

Mira Bar Hillel is Property and Planning correspondent for the Evening Standard.  


And, though she is Jewish, she is also prejudiced against Jews.  In fact, Jews scare her quite a bit.

Don’t take our word for it. Here are her exact words, in a Haaretz interview:

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.”

She also recently complained, in a column at The Independent, that Zionist Jews try to gag her into submission.

My most vicious Twitter trolls are Jews from all over the world accusing me of treason for daring to criticise Israel’s racism and other excesses and trying their best to gag me.

Since arriving in London I have not ONCE experienced anti-Semitism, although jews talk about it a lot, as Marcus said. I am not a self-hating jew - I hate people who use the label to gag into submission any critic of Israel and its deplorable actions. And very effective they are too.

Yet, somehow, Bar Hillel evidently hasn’t been effectively muzzled by the British Jewish community, as her recent column at The Independent (Israel and the US: Drawing up lines of allegiance, Oct. 30) demonstrates.

Bar Hillel begins her meditation on Jewish allegiance by noting the ‘inflammatory’ nature of the topic:

Ask British Jews whether they feel more loyal to this country or to Israel – and expect to be instantly labelled anti-Semitic and sent packing. The same, only more so, applies in the USA.

When Israeli positions conflict with British ones, nothing is more inflammatory than allegations of “dual allegiance”,  not to mention putting Israel first. The pro-Israel lobbyists do their work subtly, although in the US their activities, especially among politicians, attract more attention…

Bar Hillel then pivots from British Jews to American Jews, per the focus on her column:

…Which makes it even more peculiar that tens of thousands of leaflets have recently been distributed to Jewish Americans, as well as to Israelis living in the United States, asking them to indicate where their allegiance would lie in the case of a crisis between the two countries

Within days, following the report of the story in the Israeli press, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu hastily directed the ministry to stop backing the questionnaire, which was commissioned by the Israeli American Council, a private nonprofit group established in Los Angeles in 2007

According to the IAC, this expansion is to be sponsored by Vegas casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

Bar Hillel fails to note that the head of the umbrella organization of American Jews denounced the questionnaire as well. 

Now, for a hint of conspiracy, Bar Hillel writes the following:

In October 2013  Adelson called upon the US to warn Iran it would use Nuclear missiles if necessary, initially aimed at the desert and subsequently threatening to hit Tehran if it did not halt its nuclear programme . This could have been – and possibly was – scripted by Netanyahu.

Now, for the question of loyalty:

I wouldn’t dare ask Sheldon Adelson, whose wife is Israeli, where his allegiances lie. But I would dearly love to hear his answer.

No, Bar Hillel “wouldn’t dare ask” the question she in fact just asked, about the loyalty of Jewish Americans, just as I wouldn’t dare ask editors at The Independent how they reconcile their recent defense against charges of antisemitism with their decision to publish a column evoking the charge of ‘dual loyalty’ by a writer who has admitted being prejudiced against Jews.   

But, ‘I would dearly love to hear’ their answer.

Independent’s coverage of Palestinian terror again highlights perpetrator’s family

indyLast Thursday, Oct. 17, a Palestinian named Younes al-Radaideh, from Beit Hanina, rammed a tractor he was driving into an IDF base north of Jerusalem in an attempted terror attack. He succeeded in breaking through the fence and rammed into buildings and several vehicles, injuring one Israeli, before being shot and killed by two soldiers.

Reports indicate that Younes al-Radaideh is the brother of Marei al-Radaideh, the man who carried out another terror attack involving a tractor in March, 2009, in Jerusalem.

The Independent’s coverage of this latest terror incident consisted of the following photo (and accompanying caption) in a photo story titled ‘Pictures of the day: West Bank simmers as Palestinian anger builds in face of occupation’.


The caption reads: 

A relative shows a picture of Palestinian Yunes Ahmed al-Radaydeh, the construction worker who was shot dead after forcing his way into a West Bank army base.

In addition to the misleading nature of the caption – which seriously downplayed the potentially lethal attack – the Indy’s decision to highlight the family of the perpetrator mirrors their use of photos in a story on July 28 about Israel’s decision to release 104 Palestinian ‘pre-Oslo’ prisoners – a group largely consisting of terrorists who murdered or attempted to murder Israeli citizens.

Here’s the July 28 caption:

The mother of Palestinian Ateya Abu Moussa, who has been held prisoner by Israel for 20 years, hugs her grandson upon hearing the news that her son may soon be released

Additionally, when the first 26 Palestinian prisoners – out of the larger group of 104 – were released the following month (a group which included Ateya Abu Moussa), the Indy covered the story with another photo series depicting the reaction of Palestinian family members.  Here’s the photo they used to illustrate Ateya Abu Moussa’s release:


The caption reads:

Freed Palestinian prisoner Ateya Abu Moussa (3rd R), who was held by Israel for 20 years, hugs his father upon arriving at his family’s house in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip

The Indy evidently didn’t deem it worthy to note that Ateya Abu Moussa had been imprisoned for murdering an Israeli Holocaust survivor named Isaac Rotenberg in 1994.

Whilst, fortunately, no Israelis were killed in the terror incident on Thursday, the decision by Indy editors to again highlight the attacker’s family represents another example of the moral inversion continually on display in British media coverage of Palestinians who attempt to murder Israeli citizens.

CiF Watch prompts Indy correction to false claim by Robert Fisk about Netanyahu

On Oct. 3 we posted about a Robert Fisk commentary focusing on Israel and Iran in The Independent which was full of hyperbolic rhetoric and apparent fabrications. (’US cowardice will let Israel’s isolated right off the hook‘). 


Arguably the most egregious example of Fisk’s sloppiness was the claim made in the following passage regarding Binyamin Netanyahu’s response to the “charm offensive” of Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani:

What we do know is that when Mr Rouhani started saying all the things we had been demanding that Iran should say for years, Israel went bananas. Mr Netanyahu condemned him before he had even said a word. “A wolf in sheep’s clothing.” “An anti-Semite.” 

As we noted in our post, the suggestion by Fisk that Netanyahu called Rouhani an “anti-Semite” appears to be a complete fabrication, as we were unable to find any examples of anything even resembling such an accusation by the Israeli prime minister.

Evidently, The Independent agreed. After contacting the paper’s editors, the passage has been amended and the claim that Netanyahu called Rouhani an “anti-Semite” was completely removed.

We commend Indy editors for their prompt revision to Fisk’s false claim.

Indy posts, then deletes, reference to Palestinian terrorists as ‘political prisoners’

h/t Gidon and Christopher

We recently posted about a grossly dishonest characterization in The Independent of the 104 Palestinian prisoners who will reportedly be released by Israel as a pre-negotiation concession to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The prisoners, held since, before Oslo, were described by the Indy’s Jerusalem correspondent Alistair Dawber as “political prisoners”, despite the fact that (as CAMERA conclusively demonstrated in April) all are incarcerated for committing violent acts – most for terrorist related violence including murder and attempted murder. 

We contacted Indy editors shortly after the post, and, in addition to providing the data we secured from the Justice Ministry on the prisoners and their crimes, noted that even the Guardian (following our complaint) had corrected a story in April which originally contained the false description of the prisoners as “political prisoners”.  Though the Indy has yet to respond to our complaint, there was recently an indication that such a correction may be forthcoming.  

A July 28th story by Dawber on the most recent news concerning Israel’s decision to release the prisoners seems to have initially referred to the Palestinians as “political prisoners”, a term used in the headline and accompanying text – but which was subsequently revised.

Here’s what you get if you Google the original story:

pol p

Now here’s a cached page of the article as it first appeared:


The opening passage also includes the term “political prisoners”.

Israel’s cabinet voted today to release more than 100 Palestinian political prisoners after hours of debate, paving the way for the first direct peacetalks between the two sides for three years.

However, here’s the headline as it now appears:

indy 2

Note that the term “political prisoners” is gone.

Further, the opening passage also omits the term “political prisoners”

More than a hundred Palestinian prisoners are to be released after Israel’s cabinet voted to authorise the move today, paving the way for the first direct peace talks between the two sides for three years.

We’re not sure what prompted the change, but are certainly more hopeful that they’ll correct Dawber’s previous piece, and, more importantly, will instruct their contributors not to mislead readers by portraying homicidal extremists who target innocent civilians as something akin to political dissidents or ‘prisoners of conscience’. 

What does the mother of a ‘pre-Oslo’ monster look like?

The following is a photo published at The Independent on July 29th to illustrate a story about Israel’s recent decision to release 104 Palestinians prisoners – a group of Palestinians (convicted prior to the Oslo Accords) largely consisting of terrorists who murdered or attempted to murder Israeli citizens, soldiers and foreign tourists.

part 1

Here’s the Indy caption for the shot taken by Reuters photographer Ibraheem Abu Mustaf:

The mother of Palestinian Ateya Abu Moussa, who has been held prisoner by Israel for 20 years, hugs her grandson upon hearing the news that her son may soon be released.

The mother is rejoicing over the possible release of her son, a Palestinian (presumably seen in the photo she’s holding) alternately known as Abu Moussa Salam Ali Atiya who murdered an Israeli named Isaac Rotenberg in 1994.  Whilst the Indy caption doesn’t include a word about the crimes of Ateya Abu Moussa or background on his victim, fortunately Almagor Murder Victims Association provides further details:

Isaac was born to Natan and Miriam Rotenberg on 15 March 1927 in Poland. A selection was held in his city following the outbreak of the Second World War, and his family was sent to the Sobibór extermination camp. With the exception of him, his younger brother, and his sister, his entire family perished. He was taken with his brother to a labor camp. When a revolt broke out, the two succeeded in escaping the camp, but they lost track of each other in the ensuing commotion. Isaac then made his way to the forest and joined the partisans.

In April 1947, Isaac reached the Land of Israel. He joined the IDF the next year, and fought in the War of Liberation in the north, near Kibbutz Manara.

Isaac was married to Riva, and the two had two children, Tzipora and Pinhas. He worked as a plasterer, and was a founder of the city of Holon. Upon reaching retirement age, he decided to continue working a few hours per day to keep himself busy.

On 29 March 1994, during the Passover holiday, as Isaac was hunched on his knees, fixing a floor in his workplace in Petah Tikva, two of the Arab laborers [including Ateya Abu Moussa], on site attacked him and struck the back of his neck with axes. He was critically wounded, and entered a coma. Two days later, on 31 March, he died.

The murderers were caught staying in Lod with their Israeli Arab accomplices, and were sentenced to life in prison.

Isaac was 67 at the time of his death. He was survived by his wife, son, brother, and sister.

Ateya Abu Moussa murdered Rotenberg as a condition of being accepted into a terrorist organization.

Isaac Rotenberg survived a Nazi extermination camp but was murdered by a (soon to be free) loathsome terrorist spawned by the woman ‘sensitively’ depicted in a photo carefully selected by Indy editors. 


Isaac (Azik) Rotenberg: Date unknown