Fisking a Guardian claim that ‘stones were thrown at Christian pilgrims’ in the Galilee

The term ‘price tag attack‘ – typically referring to reprisals (by a small radical fringe) against Palestinians for Israeli government action against settlement activity – is a curious term as used of late by UK journalists, as it’s employed to characterize crimes ranging from violence against Palestinians to racist graffiti scrawls on churches and mosques.  

As the latter property crimes represent the overwhelming majority of such ‘price tag attacks’, we were curious upon reading a Guardian report on May 9th (Christians in Israel and Palestine fear rise in violence ahead of Pope’s visit) which included a claim of violence against “Christian pilgrims”.

The Guardian report focused on Christians who reportedly “fear an escalation of violence against them after a spate of vandalism in Jerusalem churches by hardline Jewish nationalists ahead of Pope Francis’s visit this month”, and largely detailed reports of vandalism, as in this passage:

Earlier this week vandals wrote “Death to Arabs and Christians” in Hebrew on the Vatican’s Notre Dame centre in Jerusalem’s Old City and on Thursday night offensive graffiti was written on a wall close to the Romanian Orthodox church.

And, then, there was the report of “violence” against people.

Both incidents come just weeks after a spate of attacks against Christians in Galilee, where a place of worship was vandalised and stones thrown at pilgrims

However, though we searched widely for reports of physical attacks on “pilgrims in the Galilee” we weren’t able to find any such instances.  We contacted Israel Police Spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld who similarly couldn’t recall any such rock attacks against Christians in the Galilee.  

We did, however, find an April 29th report at an Arab Christian website called Abouna, (Galilee: A wave of anti-Christian fanaticism and violence), which claimed that there were stones thrown by ‘a group of orthodox Jewish teens’ at a big cross situated beside the church altar at Tabgha Sanctuary (Church of the Multiplication) on the northwest side of Lake Tiberias.  However, there was no claim that anyone (Christian or otherwise) was attacked with stones.

Additionally, the radical NGO Alternative Information Center reported, on April 30th, the vandalism at the same church (Spate of hate crime against Palestinians in Israel), but again there was no claim that stones were thrown at Christians.

Also, the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) reported on April 29th (Settlers Vandalize Christian and Muslim Holy Sitesthat Israeli “settlers” [sic] “smashed the cross and vandalized the church pews” at Tabgha Sanctuary, but there was no claim that Christians were attacked with stones.

Interestingly, IMEMC’s report seems to have been based on an April 29th story from the Palestinian news agency WAFA (Israeli settlers vandalize church, threaten Bishop of Nazareth) which itself doesn’t claim that Christians were attacked with stones.

It’s of course certainly possible that such a stone-throwing incident did in fact occur, but it seems strange that, beyond the Guardian report, we can find no other news story alleging that it took place.

Finally, if Guardian reporters want to find a real incident of stone-throwing (and other physical violence) at a church, they may be interested to learn that CAMERA recently reported on a violent incident involving stone throwing and a stabbing at St. George’s Church.  

However, come to think of it, they likely won’t be interested, as those involved weren’t Christians and Jews, but, rather, Christians and Muslims.  Oh, and there’s additional information which would dissuade an enterprising Guardian reporter from covering the incident: it didn’t take place in Israel, but just outside of Beit Jala – a town under the control of the Palestinian Authority. 

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Did Guardian journalists violate international law? Delegitimization of the settlements jumps the shark

As I’ve noted on several occasions, the allegations by Guardian reporters that Jews living anywhere beyond the green line (that is, where Jews have lived for centuries, with the exception of the period between 1949 and 1967) are in violation of international law are leveled as frequently as they are lazily. Such reports rarely even bother inserting a hyperlink to a source on the adjudication of the illegality of such Israeli communities.

Charges have been legitimized by the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood that Jerusalem’s light rail line – which audaciously serves both Arab and Jewish neighborhoods – is arguably a violation of international law.

Israelis attempting to violate international law by boarding Jerusalem's Light Rail

And, more recently, Israeli quarry mining in the West Bank, which provides economic activity and employment for Jews and Palestinians alike, was characterized in a report by Harriet Sherwood similarly as a possibly ‘illegal” act per international law.

Internationally outlawed economic activity: Quarry Mining

And, until recently, I thought the most surreal accusation that Israel was in violation of international law was when the Jewish state stood accused, by the NGO Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, of committing a WAR CRIME when they, in 2010, reopened a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter, which had been destroyed by the Jordanians following the the 1948 War.

Synagogue in historically Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem: Violation of International Law

However, the following report by International Middle East Media Center truly jumps the shark with such accusations. 

Their story, titled “International media complicit in legitimization of Israeli settlements“, Jan. 27, by Alessandra Bajec, includes the following:

Unbelievable, but true: over 70 journalists from international mainstream media took part in a tour through Israeli settlements in the Palestinian West Bank last Thursday 19th… guests of the Head of the Samaria Regional Council Gershon Mesika and the Minister of Information and Diaspora Yuli Edelstein. 

Participants included journalists from well-known media outlets such as the British Guardian, the Reuters news agency, as well as reporters from France, Poland, China, Germany, South America, the United States, Radio London and several TV stations from Russia. 

Bajec can hardly contain her rage:

What calls immediate attention is the very fact that a (large) delegation of international media professionals went on a tour around Israeli settlements, all deemed illegal under international law. In other words, a host of media people, from the same countries that condemn illegal settlements in occupied Palestine, partook in something that essentially breaks international law.

The simple act of touring settlements in occupied Palestinian territory is an affront to international law…international media buying into a tour of this kind shows that they are complicit in covering up Israel’s war crimes. 

Who’s to blame for such a journalistic apostasy, per Bajec? Yeah, you guessed it:

…pro-Israel lobbies and Zionist networks…and the Israel influenced mainstream news agencies for whom they work [which] made them turn a blind eye on the topical settlement issue…

While I really wish I knew which Guardian journalist participated in the tour and, thus, flagrantly violated international law, I guess, any way you look at it, it’s becoming harder and harder to avoid reaching the conclusion that the Guardian Group is merely another tool of the international Zionist network.

Journalists' partaking in an internationally illegal meal in Shomron Region