When we last visited the Independent’s ‘award-winning‘ Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk, he was warning about the (previously unknown) dangers posed to UK society by “radicalized” British Zionists, and his most recent Indy op-ed on the roots of ISIS jihad strives for similar heights of polemical fantasy.
Ghoulish: Morbidly interested in death or disaster
The Mount Bental Look-Out point in the Golan is one of the more popular Israeli mountain peaks, due in part to the beautiful views of the Golan, Mt. Hermon and Syria, and because it was the site of a battle during the Yom Kippur War in which 160 Israeli tanks successfully held off nearly ten times their number of Syrian tanks.
Sightseers can also of course look down at the Syrian town of Quneitra and the Quneitra crossing point, the only border crossing between Syria and Israel on the Golan Heights – the sight, quite recently, of fierce fighting between rebels from the Nusra Front and Syrian government forces.
Here’s the Daily Mail’s headline, evidently inspired in part by an EPA photo of the Bental look-out point, published on Sept. 5th.
Now here’s a photo (and caption), used to illustrate the Daily Mail article, of those “ghoulish” Israeli daytrippers:
Here are the opening passages of the article:
Donning T-shirts, shorts and sunglasses, they stand on a mountainside platform, gazing into the distance through sets of binoculars.
But these Israeli daytrippers aren’t just admiring the landscape – they are watching a fierce battle just over the Syrian border. One that now involves ISIS.
The militant group – which released a video of their execution of American journalist Steven Sotloff earlier this week – are now just half a mile from the Golan Heights border crossing between Israel and Syria.
The Queneitra crossing has already seen fierce fighting between the Syrian army and the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, with the rebels taking control of the Syrian checkpoint just weeks ago.
Today, smoke could be seen rising from the outskirts of the town of Quneitra as the Syrian military fired at the rebels, killing at least 16
Overlooking orchards spilling down the mountainside, the platform was the perfect spot for the local daytrippers to watch battle commence.
‘I can see the terrorists at the checkpoint,’ Majd Abu Akl, a Druze Israeli farmer, looking east through binoculars to Syria, told the Financial Times.
He identified some of the men as belonging to the Nusra Front by their black uniforms, while others were driving around in UN jeeps with black ISIS flags.
Israelis, who have long considered Syrian President Bashar al-Assad their bitter foe, are now worried about the threat of the ever-nearing militants.
‘There is a battle for control on the other side of the border; we are watching it carefully,’ said Peter Lerner, a spokesman for the Israel Defence forces. So far it hasn’t been pointed in our direction, but we need to be prepared for that day.’
Even if we are to assume that some of the Israelis seen in the photo came to his extremely popular lookout site specifically to watch the fighting, the big question which leaps to mind is how on earth the Daily Mail was able to establish that they came because they get perverse “ghoulish” pleasure in watching the death and destruction.
Finally, in a classic case of burying the lead, the next passage in the article highlights another dynamic related to ISIS.
It comes as a report of a gathering of ‘thousands’ of ISIS supporters at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount has increased concerns that the extremist group’s sights are focused on Israel as a future target.
So, to recap:
1. A few dozen Israeli tourists go to Mt. Bental, where those “armed with binoculars” can evidently see fighting between Islamist rebels and Syrian government forces over the Quneitra border crossing.
3. The Daily Mail frames the story by speculating on the ill-motives of the Israeli tourists, while brushing aside (evidently as morally insignificant) the ugly spectacle of thousands of Palestinians showing their support for ISIS.
As our analysis of the UK media’s coverage of the region consistently indicates, not only do foreign journalists see their job as making sure that “every flaw in Israeli society is aggressively reported”, but in fact often manage to frame even the most benign and innocent Israeli behavior in the most negative light possible.
Based on a recent poll, 7 percent of residents in the UK support the barbaric jihadists of the Islamic State (ISIS), which, though incredibly disturbing in its own right, represents a far lower level of support than in France, where 16 percent expressed their approval.
While support in Europe for ISIS presumably comes mostly from Islamists in predominantly Muslim immigrant communities, the following letters, published at the Guardian on Aug. 27 (which were in response to an op-ed titled ‘Isis: an apocalyptic cult carving a place in the modern world‘) were penned by Brits in largely white, non-immigrant communities.
The Islamic State caliphate finally realises a dream that goes back to the 1920s when the Muslim Brotherhood was established. Syria has been its main target since the 1960s. Assassinations of government figures hardened the Assad regime’s security apparatus and freedom was sacrificed for security. Syria remains resolutely secular and the nation’s disparate minorities continue to support Assad. The Islamists could not overthrow them, even with US weaponry and Saudi finance. Now they have established a base where they can fulfil their dream of an Islamist state. Why not let them have it? Agree new borders with Syria and Iraq to replace the Sykes-Picot lines in the sand, encourage repopulation of the region with fundamentalists and fund relocation of the refugees. The state of Israel was established against a similar background of desperation mixed with terrorist cruelty – existential challenges bring out the worst in people. The west supported the Zionist dream, so why not the Islamist one?
Hastings, East Sussex
John Gray (An apocalyptic cult carving a place in the modern world, 26 August) says that “to view Isis as expressing the core of one of the world’s great religious is to endorse Isis’s view of itself, which Islamic religious authorities across the world have rejected”.
I thought the point of the Enlightenment (and the Guardian) was to take nothing on authority but to think for oneself and test one’s theories rationally. Mr Gray, author of Al Qaeda and What it Means to be Modern, appears to have missed this point. Neither the views of Isis about itself nor the views of “religious authorities” are or should be determinative. I prefer to think for myself and, having read the Qur’an from cover to cover several times, I agree with Isis.
East Twickenham, Middlesex
We’ve read some outlandish letters at the Guardian before, but these are simply beyond comprehension.
We’ll leave the simply delusional comparison with Zionism, in the first letter, aside, and just note that ISIS represents a simply monstrous brand of Islamic extremism, whose members have kidnapped large numbers of women for sex slavery and engaged in the mass murder of religious minorities. Their objective is the establishment of a worldwide Caliphate.
The massacres carried out by IS are an integral expression of the organization’s worldview and not random atrocities. This ideology, while related to the jihadi-salafism practiced by al-Qaeda (AQ), is far more extreme, leading the Islamic State to claim that it is AQ that has altered the original creed and methodology of Usama bin Ladin. Among the specific aspects that set it apart from al-Qaeda’s belief system are a requirement of absolute obedience to their so-called “caliph” with no dissention and no organizations that are separate from his control; a demand for constant warfare against anyone who supports the “apostate” regimes; and a focus on wiping out entire cultures and people groups, including Yazidis, Christians, Sabaeans, and all Shi’a.
Each piece of this abhorrent ideology comes with deliberate planning and purpose-built organizations designed to realize the new “caliph’s” vision. For instance, in order to impose their horrific vision of society on the people of Syria, the Caliphate is forcibly inculcating ordinary Muslims, especially the young, into the Islamic State’s version of Islam. Recent reporting from Raqqa, Syria, by Vice News, an edgy group of journalists known for their work in dangerous spots around the world, shows the use of indoctrination centers (some in former churches), mobile proselytization vans, and outdoor propaganda gatherings to introduce unwilling citizens of Raqqa to the Islamic State’s ideology and way of life. There is also video footage of strangely compliant prisoners, all calmly agreeing that they have sinned and deserve their punishment of death or beatings.
To coerce conquered populations into living out IS’s vision, the groups has set up “shari’a police,” or the Hisba. Based on a medieval institution sometimes known as the “Body to Command Right and Forbid Wrong,” the Hisba enforces compliance with the group’s extremist version of Islamic law. AQ affiliates like Shabaab have set up similar units that have the authority to arrest anyone caught committing infractions against that group’s stringent legal code
IS has also created an ideologically motivated force, similar to the Nazi SS troops, to act as their shock forces in this fight. The units, known as the “Inghimasiyun,” or “those who plunge [into battle],” recall a concept of warfare from the early days of Islam, when the most ardent of the believers would rush into the enemies’ ranks without taking care for their own lives. In a similar fashion, accounts from Iraq and Syria suggest that the Inghimasiyun often carry out suicide bombings either as part of the planned assault or as a way to avoid capture.
Even more disturbing than the Inghimasiyun are the so-called “Dhabiha” (or “Slaughterers”), which constitute what would be the Einsatzgruppen (Nazi death squads) of IS. The purpose of these units, as with the Nazi “task forces,” is to carry out the massacre of enemies of the state in an organized fashion. Unlike the Nazi units, however, the Dhabiha take care to film themselves carrying out their atrocities and post photos and videos to social media in order to terrify others into obedience. The recent beheading of 700 tribal members involved in an attempted uprising in Dayr al-Zawr, Syria against IS fits the modus operandi of the Dhabiha, as does the posting online soon afterward of videos of the carnage.
SITE reasonably characterizes ISIS’s medieval ideology as akin to the worst totalitarian states of the last century.
ISIS is simply evil, and the thought that even 7 percent of Brits – including, evidently, some inspired by a far-left ideology – view the group favorably is truly frightening.
- Report: Gaza Terrorists Flowing East to Help ISIS (thetower.org)
Tablet published an essay by Liel Leibovitz today that is truly a must read.
Here are the first few paragraphs:
As those of us who’ve had the dubious pleasure of being in combat know, the fog of war is a very real thing. It’s hard sometimes to tell which direction’s which when there’s shooting, and the blast of artillery is loud enough to drown out most rational thoughts. The same is true not only for people who fight in wars but also for people who observe them: Emotions run high. Resentments creep in. Confusion is rampant and hard to dispel. But it’s precisely in times of war that cooler heads must prevail, which is why I propose the following thought experiment.
Imagine a politician ascending to the governorship of a small southern state. Having campaigned on a platform of extreme patriotic fervor and religious zeal—in his stump speech, he thundered that by the grace of God, America will last as long as there exist Heaven and Earth—the governor wasted no time translating his beliefs into law. Because the governor believed that homosexuals were “a minority of perverts and the mentally and morally sick,” he outlawed them, instructing his police officers to seek, capture, beat up, and imprison every gay individual in the state. Similarly, women were deemed better off tending to their families than wasting their time with such corrupting pursuits as jobs. A special educational program was devised and approved to teach young girls the fundamentals. These future wives and mothers, read the governor’s statement, “must be fully capable of being aware and of grasping the ways to manage their households. Economy and avoiding waste in household expenditures are prerequisites to our ability to pursue our cause in the difficult circumstances surrounding us.” The men of the state reveled in this new way of life, asserting themselves as lords of their manors; before too long, nearly half of them took to regularly battering their wives.
How many of those who define themselves as liberals would support the governor? Very few, if any. More likely, our hypothetical politician would have galvanized the left into action: The cleverly worded emails from progressive organizations, the fiery segments onThe Daily Show, the pledges from celebrities to stop the menace—all would have been upon us before too long. And yet when the same politician appears halfway across the world, sporting a beard and proceeding far beyond the relatively tame scenario described above—sacrificing his own nation’s children and eager to murder innocent civilians across the border—all clarity seems to dissipate. All the homicidal zealot has to do is mumble something about justice and disproportionality and self-determination, and he’s transformed into a respectable, not to say sympathetic, figure.
We recently commented on a political cartoon in the Guardian highlighting the perceived asymmetrical nature of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, and another cartoon decrying what was perceived to be the greater value placed on Israeli lives over that of Palestinians. We also posted about a cartoon in the Independent which suggested that Israeli reaction to Hamas rocket attacks was not only ‘disproportional‘ but arguably inconsistent with Jewish values.
However, a cartoon by Martyn Turner at the Irish Times goes a step further, imputing to Israel a blind malevolence in slaughtering helpless Palestinians.
Though the evocation of the ‘shooting fish in a barrel’ meme is the most obvious element of the narrative, even more telling is the more focused depiction of the Israeli soldier’s deranged war lust (note the soldier’s face) in contrast with the helpless Palestinians (fish and other small creatures). The latter can be seen in the drop of water spit by the fish, representing it seems the benign, harmless nature of Hamas attacks.
Israel, according Turner, isn’t merely the aggressor in the war (note the ceasefire agreement in the soldier’s hand which he presumably has ignored), but is represented as bloodthirsty, vengeful, and merciless.
Within the far-left ideological territory claimed by Turner (as well as other Irish Times contributors), Israel is often presented using the familiar motif of a mindless, destructive Goliath, while the extreme racism of the Palestinian Islamist movement ruling Gaza – one which openly aspires to murder Jews - is whitewashed, and its ‘fighters’ robbed of any semblance of moral agency.
So, contrary to reports demonstrating that Israel will soon achieve energy independence and is set to become a net exporter of natural gas – and may one day, due to its reserve of oil shale, be able to pump 100,000 barrels of oil a day - Guardian readers are asked to believe that Israel has an energy crisis, one which prompted the current war against Hamas.
Mark Turner, founder of the Research Journalism Initiative, reported that the siege of Gaza and ensuing military pressure was designed to “eliminate” Hamas as “a viable political entity in Gaza” to generate a “political climate” conducive to a gas deal.
While information on Research Journalism Initiative is sparse, Turner appears to be a pro-Palestinian activist who was once active with the pro-terror International Solidarity Movement. (Further, the article by Turner cited in the previous passage was published at Electronic Intifada in 2008.)
A 2012 letter by two Israeli government chief scientists – which the Israeli government chose not to disclose – warned the government that Israel still had insufficient gas resources to sustain exports despite all the stupendous discoveries. The letter, according to Ha’aretz, stated that Israel’s domestic resources were 50% less than needed to support meaningful exports, and could be depleted in decades:
However, the article he linked to merely cites one opinion suggesting that Israel should reduce the quantity of natural gas it plans to export by 2020, warning that, otherwise, it may exhaust its reserves in four decades or so – reflecting the broader debate over how the government should balance domestic use with exports.
Though Ahmed pivots later in the article to different matters entirely, the other ‘evidence’ he adds to buttress his main theory consists of the following:
For the Israeli government, Hamas continues to be the main obstacle to the finalisation of the gas deal. In the incumbent defence minister’s (Ya’alon) words: “Israel’s experience during the Oslo years indicates Palestinian gas profits would likely end up funding terrorism against Israel. The threat is not limited to Hamas… It is impossible to prevent at least some of the gas proceeds from reaching Palestinian terror groups.”
However, Ahmed is quoting Ya’alon from a 2007 JCPA article, and it’s unclear how his warning 7 years ago are relevant to either Israel’s Tamar Gas Field, located far from the Gaza coast (within Israel’s own economic zone, roughly 80 kilometers west of Haifa), or with the current war against Hamas.
In the final paragraph, Ahmed concedes that the “Israel-Palestine conflict is clearly not all about resources”, but fails of course to hint that the current conflict may, just possibly, have something to do with thousands of rocket attacks launched by an Islamist extremist group committed to the Jewish state’s destruction.
Finally, perhaps we shouldn’t be at all surprised by Ahmed’s bizarre theory on the “root cause” of the current conflict, given his history of such fanciful “troof’ telling. It appears that the Guardian contributor is somewhat of a 9/11 (and 7/7 bombings) conspiracy theorist. Here’s the Amazon synopsis of his book, titled ‘The War on Freedom: How and why America was attacked on 9/11‘.
A disturbing expose of the American government’s hidden agenda, before and after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. A wide range of documents show US officials knew in advance of the ‘Boeing bombing’ plot, yet did nothing. Did the attacks fit in with plans for a more aggressive US foreign policy? Nafeez Ahmed examines the evidence, direct and circumstantial, and lays it before the public in chilling detail: how FBI agents who uncovered the hijacking plot were muzzled, how CIA agents trained Al Qaeda members in terror tactics, how the Bush family profited from its business connections to the Bin Ladens, and from the Afghan war. A ‘must read’ for anyone seeking to understand America’s New War on Terror.
And, as we’ve demonstrated repeatedly, the Guardian is clearly a ‘must read’ for anyone curious about the hard left’s continuing descent into the intellectual abyss of ‘radical’, anti-Zionist, conspiracy-minded agitprop.
On June 3rd we posted about a photo used by Guardian editors to illustrate a report by Peter Beaumont (‘Israel condemns US for backing Palestinian unity government‘) about Prime Minister Netanyahu’s request that Washington not rush to immediately recognize the new Palestinian “technocratic government” backed by the terror group Hamas.
Their decision to use a photo of Palestinian children frolicking at a Hamas summer camp was deceptive for two reasons. First, the photo they used was only one in a series published by Getty Images in 2013 which were most notable for shots depicting the kids engaged in jihadist paramilitary training. Second, the image – conveying the putatively benign nature of the Hamas government – could be seen as an editorial decision to make light of Israeli concerns about the consequences of the US legitimization of the Islamist extremist group.
Interestingly, a few hours after our post, the Guardian decided to remove the original photo, and instead opted for this:
Though it’s unclear if our post prompted the Guardian revision, and no explanation was provided, we’re glad they at least implicitly acknowledged the highly tendentious nature of the original photo.
UPDATE: The Guardian’s Readers’ Editor responded to our post with the following Tweet:
@CiFWatch The picture was changed to one that reflected the story better within hours, as I am sure you are aware.
— Chris Elliott (@chriselliott57) June 5, 2014
However, our subsequent exchange with Elliott (which you can see here) suggests that his intent was to make it clear that Guardian editors recognized the error and changed the photo of their own accord. We thank them for the clarification.
Hamas is not only recognized by the West as a terror group due to its long history of lethal attacks against Israeli civilians, but is an antisemitic movement so extreme that their founding charter openly incites its members to murder Jews – not merely Israelis, but ‘Jews’. Further, as anyone who spent any time at the site Palestinian Media Watch would surely know, they’re in a class of their own when it comes to educating their children on the sublime virtues of jihad.
However, save one mild report by Harriet Sherwood last year, the Guardian has all but ignored Hamas’s disturbing indoctrination of Gaza’s youth, and indeed often attempts – through misleading photos and other forms of obfuscation – to portray a kinder, gentler side of the Islamist extremist group.
A good illustration of the Guardian’s habit of engaging in such propaganda was evident in the photo used to illustrate a report today (June 3) by Peter Beaumont titled ‘Israel condemns US for backing Palestinian unity government‘.
Their decision to illustrate the story with a photo of Palestinian children innocently frolicking at a Hamas summer camp would lead the causal reader to assume the benign nature of the Hamas summer experience (a Palestinian version, it seems, of Camp Ramah). Of course, this assumption would be ‘slightly’ undermined if Guardian readers were to view photos showing other camp activities.
Thousands of Gaza’s children enroll in Hamas sponsored camps each summer – camps which aim to instill Hamas’s “fundamentalist brand of educational and nationalist ethos in the youth of Gaza” and to indoctrinate the youth to “return to occupied Palestine.”
Camps reportedly include the use of live ammunition and simulated kidnappings of Israeli soldiers.
However, thanks to the Guardian, we now know that – interspersed with such paramilitary activities – there’s evidently still time for future Palestinian jihadists to blow bubbles.
- A perfect illustration of how the PA fools the UK media into believing they’re ‘pro-peace’ (cifwatch.com)
- Guardian photo caption runs interference for ‘Hamas Jihad Camp’, again. (cifwatch.com)
- Harriet Sherwood characterizes Hamas as a “conservative” group (cifwatch.com)
- BREAKING: Palestinian Unity Gov’t Unveiled Amid Last-Minute Bickering, Hamas Declarations of Control (thetower.org)
Post-colonial ideologies…blame the West (particularly the US and Europe) for the ills of the ‘global South’ or the under-developed world, and understate the criticism of dictatorships and terror groups (or liberation movements). In this political culture, Israel and Zionism (Jewish nationalism) are labelled as powerful aggressors intricately connected with Western ‘imperialism’ and ‘neoliberalism’, while Palestinians are automatically labelled as weak victims. – Gerald Steinberg, Fathom
Though the mission of this blog is to combat antisemitism and the assault on Israel’s legitimacy at the Guardian, at times it’s important to look beyond their reports and commentary on Israel and the Palestinian territories (and the broader Middle East) to fully understand the political persuasion which informs their coverage.
A case in point is a recent official Guardian editorial on Uganda’s new anti-gay law (and similar homophobic legislation throughout the continent) titled ‘Homophobia: hatred carried on a Westernly wind.
Here’s some of their March 9th editorial:
It doesn’t take a team of medical experts, such as that commissioned by Kampala, to establish that homosexuality predates western power in Africa, or to work out that far from encouraging homosexuality, the colonialists exported homophobia, in the form of anti-gay legislation then on European statute books.
In the case of Buganda, the kingdom that formed the heart of present-day Uganda, the British deposed the male monarch on the pretext that he had a harem of page boys.
More recently, homophobia has travelled with a new band of westerners, the American evangelicals, exposed in the documentary God Loves Uganda, in which toothsome Midwesterners preach their message to Africa. Their influence is immense. As the newly out Kenyan novelist Binyavanga Wainaina has noted, whether “in the media, or in conversation” one can “quickly hear almost the exact wording that has been distributed … in the churches.”
In 2009, as their gay “curing” agenda was discredited in the US, three American evangelicals travelled to Kampala to “instruct” thousands of influential Ugandans on how gay men sodomise teenagers and how the gay movement promotes sexual promiscuity. A month after that, a Ugandan politician introduced a bill to create a capital offence of “aggravated homosexuality”. It is a version of this bill that has now been passed by Mr Museveni, and which will open up hundreds of thousands of gay Ugandans to persecution.
So, are three American evangelicals responsible for anti-gay legislation in Uganda, a country which has been independent for over 50 years? And, did the West export homophobia to Africa?
First, as the Washington Post reported, Evangelical leaders in the US have strongly condemned the Ugandan law. And, as one Evangelical who attended the conference in 2009 argued in response to others blaming his community for the legislation, it’s extremely insulting to the Ugandans to suggest that a few American pastors are so powerful that they overwhelmed the intelligence of an entire government.
Additionally, the Guardian editorial fails to note that homosexuality was already illegal in Uganda. (What the new law did was greatly increase the sentences for such illegal acts.)
Even more relevant to the debate is a Pew Global Poll published in 2013 which showed that a staggering 96 percent of Ugandans don’t believe society should accept homosexuality, strongly suggesting that the new law merely reflected the existence of strongly held (and indigenous) anti-gay attitudes.
Further, whatever the moral influence of European colonialism, those who are rightfully concerned with the persecution of gays in the world would have to acknowledge that the problem of homophobia is largely centered in Africa and the Middle East. Though 51 African and Middle East countries have laws explicitly prohibiting gay sex, there is no country in Europe which has such a law. (Though, tellingly, the last holdout in Europe, which only two months ago dropped its law banning homosexuality, was Turkish-Occupied Northern Cyprus.)
Beyond the narrow issue addressed in the editorial, the dynamics at play whereby the Guardian fails to hold independent African states responsible for reactionary legislation passed by their own legislatures helps to understand the dearth of reports at the paper on human rights abuses committed by Palestinians against other Palestinians. The criticism we direct towards Guardian reports often focus on their failure to hold Palestinians responsible for destructive behavior and cultural attitudes which are illiberal and inimical to peace – a failure to assign moral agency to Arabs and Muslims which is part of a broader ideological tick.
Many Guardian contributors seem unable to countenance such a politically inconvenient human rights divide in the world – one fundamentally at odds with their post-colonial divide – and so often resort to the most tortured causation in explaining cruelty and violence meted out by ‘the formerly oppressed’.
This ideology partly explains why the Guardian associate editor Seumas Milne blamed 9/11 on US foreign policy, why Glenn Greenwald similarly blamed terrorist attacks by American Islamists on “horrific violence brought by the US and its allies to the Muslim world”, and why the Guardian religion blogger Andrew Brown blamed the Muslim persecution of Christians in the Mid-East on “the establishment of the state of Israel and its support by Western Christian countries“.
Genuine progressives, it seems, who advocate passionately for a Palestinian state would have to acknowledge that Israel is by any measure the most liberal country in the region, and would have to address the likelihood that a newly independent Palestinian state – regardless of the merits of the Palestinian nationalist movement – will mirror the misogyny, religious intolerance and homophobia which permeates neighboring Arab states.
However, when you base your political analysis on pre-assigned moral roles – a victims’ casuistry in which the correct opinion is invariably derived by ordering the story by virtue of the powerful vs the powerless – then Palestinians are blameless victims, and Israelis (and often Jews qua Jews) will invariably fail to evoke your moral sympathy.
- Why the Guardian will support the next Palestinian Intifada (Times of Israel)
As we first learned from Guido Fawkes, Moazzam Begg, a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner who became a spokesman for the “human rights” group Cageprisoners, was arrested by British police on Tuesday morning for terror offences which he is alleged to have committed in Syria.
Begg is widely believed by American intelligence officials to have been a jihadist involved with Al-Qaida and reportedly attended terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the UK “so he could assist in waging jihad against enemies of Islam.” Begg reportedly assisted several prominent terrorists, recruited young operatives for jihad and provided financial support for terror camps.
Additionally, Begg is believed to have been associated with the radical cleric Anwar al Awlaki, the senior al Qaeda recruiter who was involved with planning operations for the group, and later killed by U.S. forces. Al Awlaki helped motivate at least three terrorist attacks inside the U.S. (Begg’s group actually lobbied to free Al Awlaki from Yemeni custody after he was detained in 2006, broadcast his live messages and reproduced his propaganda on their website.)
Begg – who, you may recall, was promoted by the NGO Amnesty International – is also a frequent contributor to the Guardian’s blog ‘Comment is Free’, having penned 20 essays at the site since 2006, most of which were aimed at casting himself as an innocent victim of US and British intolerance and Islamophobia.
Interestingly, the Guardian’s report on Begg’s arrest by Vikram Dodd (Moazzam Begg among four arrested in Birmingham terror raids, Feb. 25) didn’t even note this extremely inconvenient relationship.
While we don’t yet know the details of Begg’s alleged terror activity in Syria, if it turns out that he was fighting for jihadists it wouldn’t be at all surprising.
As we’ve demonstrated previously, the Guardian is a media group which often promotes and defends Islamist extremists, and frequently welcomes into their ‘ ‘liberal’ salon ‘demopaths‘ such as Begg – those who cynically exploit the language of democracy when it serves their interests, and demand stringent levels of human “rights” of the West yet don’t apply these basic standards to their own behavior.
- BBC’s Connolly exploits Mandela’s death for political campaigning (bbcwatch.org)
- Following CiF Watch post, Guardian amends ‘terrorist sperm’ story (cifwatch.com)
- New CST report on antisemitic discourse in Britain slams the Guardian (cifwatch.com)
- Top 10 warning signs you may be a ‘Guardian Left’ anti-Semite (cifwatch.com)
A guest post by Richard Millett
St James’s Church’s Rector Lucy Winkett’s defence of her church’s installation of a replica of Israel’s security fence in a piece for ‘Comment is Free’ is a legal and moral failure (Bethlehem Unwrapped is about ‘beautiful resistance’, not taking sides’, Jan. 2).
First the legal side. She states that Israel’s security fence is “illegal under international law”. It is incredible that so many non-lawyers (and a few actual lawyers) state this with such ease when there is little proper evidence of such “illegality”. Rector Winkett is relying on the 2004 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice. A frame repeatedly projected on to St James’s Church’s replica wall states “In 2004, the International Court of Justice in The Hague stated the security fence was illegal and it should be dismantled.”
But an advisory opinion is just that; advisory and an opinion. It sets no legal precedent.
Moreover, it is undeniable that Israel’s security fence has stopped Palestinian suicide bombers from attacking Israeli civilians, saving countless lives.
There are legal opinions for and against Israel’s security fence, but for Rector Winkett to declare the fence “illegal under international law” makes a mockery of her claim at ‘Comment is Free’ that “we are not ‘pro’ one side or another”.
On the moral side Rector Winkett derides as “irresponsible” those who claim “we are aligning ourselves with those who support the Holocaust, suicide bombings or that we are antisemitic”.
But Rector Winkett’s wish for Israel’s security fence to come down will encourage suicide bombers sent by the likes of Islamist terror group Hamas to resume their murder of Israeli civilians, including those living on the West Bank, which the fence has successfully disrupted. (Indeed, the Hamas Charter specifically calls for the murder of Jews, and their leaders have explicitly called for the annihilation of the Jews.)
And then there are the organisations that St James’s Church has expressly aligned itself with for Bethlehem Unwrapped.
Rector Winkett writes that St James’s is supporting “a peaceful Palestinian principle known as ‘beautiful resistance'; expressed in theatres, music projects…”.
Sami Awad, director of the Holy Land Trust (a pro-Palestinian group with ties to Hamas and other terror groups), might believe in “beautiful resistance” but that doesn’t exclude a belief in violence. Awad is on record as saying that such non-violent resistance “is not a substitute for the armed struggle.“
Incidentally, all net proceeds from Bethlehem Unwrapped go to the Holy Land Trust. (That is should there be any net proceeds, the cost of the 12 day replica security fence installation being an incredible £30,000.)
Meanwhile, recent news footage shows Interpal’s primary trustee Essam Mustafa with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.
Rector Winkett writes in her ‘Comment is Free’ piece that all viewpoints are listened to without exception and that visitors have been allowed to write a prayer or message of peace on the wall and that anything offensive has been immediately removed. She also writes that most conversations have been respectful.
Sadly, many have not been. A woman going in to St James’s Church for Bethlehem Unwrapped’s comedy evening responded to a question about the Holocaust with “What Holocaust?” A supporter of Israel was called a “friggin Jew” and “quenelle4 ever” appeared on the replica security fence (see middle of replica fence below written in blue):
Rector Winkett also writes that people have written “this wall saves lives”. However, this was subsequently changed to “this wall enslaves lives”.
Bethlehem Unwrapped is not a respectful project however much Rector Winkett is trying to convince us. It mocks Israel’s legitimate attempts to save precious lives.
And it fails to recognise even the possibility that the main problem for Bethlehem’s Christians is not the security fence at all but intimidation and violence by Hamas similar to that carried out by Islamists elsewhere.
Moreover, St James’s Church’s Bethlehem Unwrapped festival has attracted antisemites, Holocaust deniers, those campaigning for the destruction of Israel and those who condone violence to that end.
This may not have been St James’s Church’s intention but this is what has happened and for this Rector Winkett should apologise to Britain’s Jewish community which is bearing the main brunt of the backlash.
The biggest irony is that St James’s Church itself is protected by a security fence; a tall metal fence that contains a locked door. When the door is unlocked it is heavily guarded. Some may call this a checkpoint.
St James’s Church is, understandably, protecting itself from anyone harbouring ill feeling towards it and who may be inclined to carry out an atrocity similar to those carried out against Churches in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria and Egypt by militant Islamists.
Israel is doing the same.
- Unwrapped: An ugly Guardian smear (cifwatch.com)
- “Quenelle 4 ever” scrawled on St James Church stunt wall (Elder of Ziyon)
Yes, the Guardian’s religion blogger Andrew Brown really did blame Israel for the Arab persecution of Christians in the Arab Middle East.
Here are the relevant passages in his latest post on former president George W. Bush’s recent work with a group of Messianic Jews:
…there is widespread confusion among evangelicals about whether Israel is really a kind of America overseas – a recent poll for the Pew Foundation found that twice as many American Evangelicals as American Jews were unwavering in their support for Israel. This is something that successive Israeli governments have deliberately cultivated.
But the links between Zionism and Christianity go much further and deeper than that. The conversion of the Jews, and their restoration to Jerusalem, was a great enthusiasm among English evangelicals in Victorian times. Barbara Tuchman’s marvelous book Bible And Sword chronicles some of the consequences.
It’s fair to say that without the belief of Victorian upper class evangelical Englishmen – almost exactly the equivalents of George W Bush – there never would have been a Balfour Declaration. And without that declaration, there could not have been the Jewish immigration to Palestine that laid the foundations for the state of Israel.
Some people will see this as an example of the destructive craziness of religion, and perhaps it is, but it is also an example of the way in which theology is only powerful and important when it is wrapped up in identity. Because if there is one group that has suffered as a result of the establishment of the state of Israel and its support by Western Christian countries, it is the historic Christians of the Middle East – who are now the victims of persecution throughout the region and scapegoats of an angry nationalism.
Whilst Brown’s characterization of the foundation of Zionism and the establishment of Israel is completely ahistorical, the magnitude of Brown’s fabrication regarding the cause of anti-Christian racism in the modern Middle East is simply difficult to comprehend.
Christians are facing systemic persecution throughout the Arab and Muslim Middle East to the point where studies have predicted that “Christianity will disappear from its biblical heartlands”, or will at least “effectively disappear from the region as a cultural and political force within our lifetime”. As The Telegraph commented on a recent study by the think-tank Civitas, “the most common threat to Christians abroad is militant Islam”. The report estimates that “between a half and two-thirds of Christians in the Middle East have left the region or been killed in the past century.” Some 2 million Christians have reportedly fled in the past 20 years alone.
Of course, the one country in the region where the Christian population is growing in total numbers is Israel.
Yet, the Guardian blogger not only ignores this statistical evidence, but views the disturbing news broadcast daily of Coptic churches being burned, Christians arrested for ‘blasphemy’, and clergy kidnapped and killed in Muslim dominated countries in the region, and somehow sees the root cause in Israel’s very creation.
As Walid Phares, a Lebanese-American scholar who advises the U.S. on issues related to terrorism, said at a conference on protecting Christians in the Middle East in 2012 sponsored by CAMERA, the plight of religious and ethnic minorities in Muslim and Arab majority countries in the region is ignored due in part to political correctness, cultural relativism and a malign obsession with Israel.
In the future when we cite examples of how antisemitism manifests itself in unusual ways at the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’, Brown’s astonishing moral inversion, in which Muslims persecute Christians but Jews are still to blame, will be near the top of our list.
- 60 Minutes Smears Israel for Christian Exodus from Holy Land (CAMERA.org)
- David Ward MP : I merely said that ‘Israel should never have been created’. (cifwatch.com)
- Daily Beast Article Blames Zionism for Christian Persecution (algemeiner.com)
- Are Jews the most incompetent ethnic cleansers in the world? (cifwatch.com)
The Guardian has a track record of gladly giving jobs to enemies of the state and fifth columnists.
In the mid-90′s, KGB defector Oleg Gordievsky identified prominent Guardian Editor Richard Gott as one of his agents. While Gott denied that he received cash, he confessed taking benefits from the KGB on a visit to the Soviet Union.
Gordievsky commented on the newspaper: “The KGB LOVED the Guardian. It was deemed highly susceptible to penetration.”
More recently, following the 7/7 London bombings, the Guardian published an article by Dilpazier Aslam who is a member of the Hizb-ut-Tahrir radical Islamist group which regularly denigrates “non-believers” as sub-human, calls for a caliphate, and extreme sharia law across the world. Hizb-ut-Tahrir’s acolytes have regularly been imprisoned for terror offences.
Let’s not pretend it is the paper of the working class either. C.P. Scott’s (the Guardian’s most famous editor) son said: its “a paper that will remain bourgeois to the last”. Max Hastings wrote in 2005: “I write for the paper because its read by the new establishment.”
Let’s also not pretend it addresses the concerns of working class people – which tend to be things like unease over immigration and its knock on effects vis-a-vis the allocation of council housing, abuse of the welfare system and increased competition for low skilled jobs. Here is Assistant Editor Michael White speaking in 2011 and admitting just that:
“I have always sensed liberal, middle class ill-ease in going after stories about immigration, legal or otherwise, about welfare fraud or the less attractive TRIBAL habits of the working class, which is more easily IGNORED altogether. Toffs, including royal ones, Christians, especially popes, governments of Israel, and US Republicans are more straightforward targets.”
So there you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth – it’s a paper which self-identifies as bourgeois, yet was a supporter of Soviet Russia (also known as champagne socialism), says it stands up for freedom but publishes freedom hating Islamists, says it stands up for racial tolerance but gives a platform to Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites, says its stands up for the working class but thinks they are “tribal” and admits it “ignores” them.
You can’t get more clear-cut than that.
- KGB agents loved the Guardian (cifwatch.com)
- What does Angela Davis know about freedom? (Alan Johnson)
- The Guardian and Left-wing mass murderers: a love story (blogs.telegraph.co.uk)
- Why are Marxists and Soviet apologists regarded as harmless jokers? (blogs.spectator.co.uk)
Glenn Greenwald is leaving the Guardian.
Statement of Glenn Greenwald:
“My partnership with the Guardian has been extremely fruitful and fulfilling: I have high regard for the editors and journalists with whom I worked and am incredibly proud of what we achieved.
“The decision to leave was not an easy one, but I was presented with a once-in-a-career dream journalistic opportunity that no journalist could possibly decline.
“Because this news leaked before we were prepared to announce it, I’m not yet able to provide any details of this momentous new venture, but it will be unveiled very shortly;”
Statement of the Guardian’s Jennifer Lindauer:
“Glenn Greenwald is a remarkable journalist and it has been fantastic working with him. Our work together over the last year has demonstrated the crucial role that responsible investigative journalism can play in holding those in power to account. We are of course disappointed by Glenn’s decision to move on, but can appreciate the attraction of the new role he has been offered. We wish him all the best.”
Greenwald, the Guardian reporter who was instrumental in disseminating NSA leaks by Edward Snowden, which highest ranking British intelligence officials claimed represented the worst national security breach in history, said he is leaving to join a “a general media outlet and news site”. (Reports indicate that the new site is financially backed by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, and that it has sought to hire Laura Poitras, the filmmaker who linked Snowden to Greenwald.)
Official statements by the Guardian and Greenwald aside, it is still unclear what prompted Greenwald’s departure. Though Greenwald’s far-left, anti-American, and anti-Zionist politics were naturally a good fit ideologically with the Guardian, it remains to be seen whether the chorus of criticism on the extreme harm done to British national security inflicted by the leaks influenced Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger (who had been under pressure from GCHQ officials) to take steps to facilitate Greenwald’s resignation.
Whilst we’ll continue to report on this developing story, we of course take immense pleasure in Greenwald’s departure, whose politics were so viscerally hostile to the West that he, on more than one occasion, found common ground with terrorists, and often amplified the message of Islamist extremists by advancing the toxic narrative suggesting that the West was at ‘war with Islam’.
We hope that those on the left arduously attempting to save their movement from Greenwald’s Red-Green Alliance style ‘anti-imperialism’ – and other egregious betrayals of everything true “liberalism”, properly understood, has historically stood for – join us in celebrating this victory over faux left political extremism.
This blog is of course dedicated to fighting antisemitism and the assault on Israel’s legitimacy, but you simply cannot separate the particular struggle against anti-Jewish racism with the broader fight in defense of the West, whose clear moral advantages in the area of democratic elections, religious tolerance, women’s rights, gay rights – and, of course, press freedom! – Greenwald tries so desperately to obfuscate.
We are committed to the simple idea that even flawed democracies – whether in North America, Europe or the Middle East – are far preferable to their illiberal alternatives, and remain worth fighting for.
Suppose you were taking a college class on the history of the 20th century and during one lecture the topic of the Holocaust was introduced. Then, in the middle of a class discussion, one student explained to the lecturer that, in his view, though some crimes were committed against Jews (and other groups) by the Nazis, the scope of the killings is still unclear and needs further research by historians and scholars. Suppose that this student further opined that such crimes committed by the Nazis (whatever the scope) shouldn’t be exploited by Jews today to justify sixty years of usurping the land of another group and committing murderous crimes against them.
What kind of reaction would you expect from the lecturer and the students upon hearing such views? The chances seem high that the student would be condemned for lending credibility to Holocaust revisionism and evoking the Holocaust in the context of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians – remarks which would arguably fall within the EU Working Definition of Antisemitism. As the Wall St. Journal noted recently, responding to reports of comments made by Iran’s new president in an interview with CNN that included questions about the Holocaust:
Pretending that the facts of the Holocaust are a matter of serious historical dispute is a classic rhetorical evasion. Holocaust deniers commonly acknowledge that Jews were killed by the Nazis while insisting that the number of Jewish victims was relatively small and that there was no systematic effort to wipe them out.
Whilst CNN’s translation of Hassan Rouhani’s much publicized remarks during his interview with Christiane Amanpour on Sept. 24 has been challenged by the Wall St. Journal and Al Monitor - both of which insisted that, contrary to the CNN translation which relied on an Iranian government interpreter, Rouhani never used the word “Holocaust” – opting instead for the more euphemistic term “historical events” – here are the relevant remarks by Iran’s president based on CNN’s Sept. 25 transcript:
I have said before that I am not a historian personally and that when it comes to speaking of the dimensions of the Holocaust as such, it is the historians that should reflect on it.
But in general, I can tell you that any crime or – that happens in history against humanity, including the crime that the Nazis committed towards the Jews, as well as non-Jewish people, is reprehensible and condemnable, as far as we are concerned.
And just as even such crimes are – if they are to happen today against any creed or belief system or human being as such, we shall again condemn it.
So what the Nazis did is condemnable. The dimensions of whatever it is, the historians have to understand what it is. I am not a historian myself, but we – it must be clear here, is that when there is an atrocity, a crime that happens, it should not become a cover to work against the interests or – or justify the crimes against another nation or another group of people.
So if the Nazis, however criminal they were, we condemn them, whatever criminality they committed against the Jews, we condemn, because genocide, the taking of the human life, is condemnable and it makes no difference whether that life is a Jewish life, a Christian or a Muslim or what.
For us, it’s the same. It’s the taking of a human life and an innocent human life is (INAUDIBLE) in Islam. It’s actually something that we condemn and our religion also rejects.
But this does not mean that, on the other hand, you can say, well, the Nazis committed crimes against, you know, a certain group, now, therefore, they must usurp the land of another group and occupy it. This, too, is an act that should be condemned, in our view.
So there should be an even-handed discussion of this.
Here is the Sept. 25 Guardian report on Rouhani’s remarks:
The Guardian celebration of Rouhani’s faux ‘acknowledgement’ relied entirely on quotes from the CNN transcript, and characteristically hasn’t been updated or revised to note to their readers the major dispute over the translation which came to light the day after their Sept. 25 story. Interestingly, however, their story, written by Saeed Kamali Dehghan, did include one observation by an Iranian-born Israeli named Meir Javedanfar which helps to explain how the remarks have been contextualized by media outlets friendly to the Iranian regime.
Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian politics lecturer at Interdisciplinary Centre (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel, interpreted Rouhani’s remarks as the limit he could go within the political and cultural constraints placed upon him.
Rouhani pushed the envelope as far as it could go, Javedanfar said, without infuriating the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and other conservatives back home.
And, that’s really the point: Holocaust deniers and revisionists typically understand that their animosity towards Jews and Israel can be seen more as more credible, and less morally suspect, if the historical understanding of the Nazi Holocaust – which serves to evoke sympathy for Jews – can be undermined. Frankly acknowledging the systematic, and historically exceptional, attempt to exterminate the entire Jewish population of Europe would necessarily draw unwanted focus on the extreme antisemitism permeating Iranian life which has inspired their leadership to call for the annihilation of the Jewish state, and would provide credibility to those insisting that a nuclear armed Iran represents an existential threat to six million Jews, and must therefore be resisted at all costs.
‘Counter-revolutionary’ rhetoric which serves to evoke sympathy for the Jewish state, no matter how obliquely, would indeed, as Javedanfar argued, “infuriate” the supreme leader, and so any pronouncements by Rouhani which touch upon the politically inconvenient topic of the Holocaust must invariably include questions about the “scope” of the Nazi crimes, and further be contextualized with the Jewish state’s ‘comparable’ “crimes” against the Palestinians.
Rouhani’s political dilemma in allowing Iran to achieve its nuclear ambitions with minimum Western resistance is to steer a careful course which avoids offending Khamenei while simultaneously staying in the good graces of the sympathetic Western liberal media.
The Guardian’s fawning coverage of the “moderate”, “dovish” Iranian president thus far indicates that he has passed the latter challenge with flying colors.