Catherine Philp names a suspect in the Passover attack on Jewish family: The ‘settlements’

On Monday night a Palestinian sniper fired multiple rounds from a Kalashnikov rifle at a Jewish family travelling on Route 35 to their Passover Seder in Kiryat Arba, killing 47-year-old Baruch Mizrachi and wounding his pregnant wife and one of their young sons.

Though the IDF is still hunting for the perpetrator, the Times Middle East correspondent has already pronounced a likely suspect. Yes, you guessed it, ‘Israeli Settlers’.

Catherine Philp’s story on the lethal attack, quite callously, never names the victim – referring to Mizrachi alternately as “a policeman”, even though he wasn’t on duty or in uniform at the time of the attack, and “the driver” – and focuses almost entirely on news from the day before regarding four Jewish families who moved into Hebron consistent with a Supreme Court ruling determining the property was purchased legally.  

The narrative focus is already evident in the headline:

header

The April 16th story (pay wall) begins thusly:

An Israeli policeman was shot dead near Hebron on the eve of the Passover festival as Jewish settlers celebrated their return to a disputed house in a Palestinian area of the West Bank city.

Three families moved into the building on Sunday evening, protected by Israeli soldiers, hours after Moshe Ya’alon, the Israeli defence minister, granted permission for their return — six years after their initial eviction.

The first apparent retaliation for the return of the settlers came on Monday night when a man opened fire on a car outside Hebron.

Remarkably, by the third paragraph Philp already establishes causation between the two events, without one iota of actual evidence and before, let’s remember, the culprits have even been apprehended or interrogated.

Philp continues, adding a bit more information on the nameless driver/policeman.

The driver, an Israeli policeman, was killed and his wife wounded. A nine-year-old boy in another car suffered light injuries.

However, the final ten paragraphs all deal with the broader story of the “provocation” of the continuing Jewish presence in Hebron, the oldest Jewish community in the world.

In total, only three out of fourteen paragraphs are devoted to the terrorist attack on a Jewish couple and their young children.

Mizrachi was laid to rest on Wednesday night, and left behind five young children, the youngest of whom recited Kaddish (the prayer recited by Jewish mourners) as the funeral began.

Baruch Mizachi

Baruch Mizachi

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Beware of Zionists with Iranian rockets: Snapshot of bias at the Irish Times

Mahmoud Abbas “is not a partner for a permanent-status agreement in which at the end there is recognition of the State of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people,” Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told Channel 2 on Saturday night.

Ya’alon argued, ahead of Abbas’s Monday meeting with President Obama, that the Palestinians don’t recognize Israel’s right to exist here and therefore will not agree to end the conflict, end all demands and recognize Israel as a Jewish state – before predicting that “a peace agreement will not happen in [his] generation”.

Though the story received wide coverage, the Irish Times chose an especially interesting photo to illustrate their story centering on Ya’alon’s comments and recent White House talks:

rockets

There’s one problem with the photo of Ya’alon. The caption conveniently fails to note that the rockets in the background – evoking the malevolence befitting such a right-wing ultra-Zionist – were not Israel’s. The EPA photo was taken on March 10 during an IDF presentation of an Iranian shipment of advanced Syrian missiles seized on the Klos-C container ship, which were intended to be delivered to Gaza. 

epa

The Press Council of Ireland prohibits not only misleading or false claims or reports, but the use of photos which would leave an erroneous impression, and the photo of Ya’alon used by the Irish Times would likely lead most readers, consciously or unconsciously, to incorrectly assume that the rockets behind the menacing defense minister were the property of the IDF. 

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Guardian report characterizes Palestinian terror movement as merely a ‘Leftist’ group

A Feb. 28 Guardian/AFP report titled ‘Palestinian killed in Israeli army raid on his home is buried‘ begins thus:

A Palestinian killed during an Israeli army raid on his home in the West Bank town of Birzeit has been buried.

Motazz Washaha was found dead after the raid on Thursday morning. The army said he was “suspected of terror activity”.

Actually, Washaha reportedly had helped plan and carry out numerous terror attacks across the West Bank.

The Guardian report continues:

About 4,000 mourners attended the funeral on Friday at Birzeit, north of Ramallah. Many called on Palestinian factions to unite and avenge Washaha’s killing. He was identified by neighbours as a member of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine [PFLP] – the movement’s flags were raised at his funeral.

So, Guardian readers are informed that PFLP is merely a “Leftist” organization!

Of course PFLP is a Marxist-Leninist Palestinian terrorist group which rejects Israel’s right to exist within any borders. PFLP is known for having pioneered techniques of international flight hijackingswas responsible for multiple deadly terror attacks in Israel and is officially listed as a terrorist group by the United States and European Union.

strategy-libpal-copy

Graphic from PFLP website

Some of its more high profile attacks include:

  • The hijacking of an El Al plane (July 23, 1968); 16 prisoners were released.
  • Hijacking of 3 planes belonging to Western countries (September 6, 1970): Three commercial airliners were hijacked and blown up after the passengers were evacuated. An attempt to hijack an Israeli (El Al) airliner was foiled. Three days later another Western plane was hijacked as well.
  • The assassination of Rehavam Ze’evi (October 17, 2001).
  • suicide bombing attack at the West Bank village of Karnei Shomrom (February 16, 2002); 3 Israeli civilians murdered, 25 wounded.
  • A suicide bombing attack at a bus station at the Geha junction in Tel Aviv (December 25, 2003); 3 Israelis murdered.

As CAMERA noted in a post earlier, you’d almost think, based on the article, that PFLP was “Leftist as in the Israeli Meretz-types who advocate for an immediate Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.”

On PFLP’s website, violence against Israeli civilians is justified by virtue of the fact that they are a “liberation movement” and – evoking agitprop used historically by Marxists to justify violence and other extremist measures – a “progressive national movement against the forces of aggression and imperialism“.  

Whilst it’s of course not at all surprising that the group would present themselves as a left-wing or progressive force, professional journalists have the duty, at the minimum, not to serve as a mouthpiece for such crude propaganda.

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CiF Watch prompts revision to Times headline referring to Haredi Jews as ‘Zealots’ (Updated)

(See update to this post below)

Yesterday, we commented on an example of the increasingly prevalent dynamic within the mainstream media of the blurring of news and opinion, in the following story at Times of London by their (error-prone) Middle East correspondent Catherine Philp.

The story, about debates in the Israeli Knesset over legislation aimed at ending an exemption that allows thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews (Haredim) to skip military service, also included the word “zealots” in the opening passage.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews who refuse to serve in the Israeli army could face time in jail under a new law agreed by a parliamentary committee in a move likely to trigger fresh protests from zealots.

Today, following a complaint filed by CiF Watch, The Times changed their headline and deleted the word “Zealots”, replacing it with the more accurate term “ultra-Orthodox”.

new header

Thought they kept “zealots” in the opening passage, the differing language used in the headline and the subsequent text does make some sense.  

While the text was referring specifically to those ultra-Orthodox Jews engaging in sometimes violent protests (who could arguably be called “zealous”), the headline is referring to the entire population of ultra-Orthodox Jews in the country who are exempt from military service – an extremely large number of Israelis who can’t reasonably be stereotyped in that manner.

Though the word “zealots” still seems quite tendentious in any context in a straight news story - and it’s difficult to imagine such a pejorative being used by The Times to refer to Palestinians who riot at the Temple Mount – the decision by Times editors to at least revise the headline represents a clear improvement over the original.

UPDATE on March 19: Catherine Philp just responded to our criticism in these Tweets:

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IDF official slams Australian report suggesting Palestinian kids were tortured

My colleague Tamar Sternthal published a superb response at CAMERA to wild allegations in a Feb. 10th Australia Broadcasting Corporation Four Corners” report concerning the alleged torture of Palestinian children during interrogation.  

Here’s an excerpt:

“Simply fictitious,” responded a senior Israel Defense Forces official when asked about allegations leveled in a Feb. 10, 2014 Australia Broadcasting Corporation “Four Corners” report concerning brutal torture of Palestinian children during interrogations.

In contravention of journalistic codes of ethics, reporter John Lyons never gave Israeli officials the opportunity to respond specifically to the alleged instances of extreme abuse described. CAMERA, therefore, checked with Israeli authorities, reaching a high-level official intimately knowledgeable about the minors interviewed in the “Stone Cold Justice” broadcast.

One of them, Fathi Mahfouz, who was arrested on April 10, 2013 at the age of 15, and held for 82 days, claimed on camera that during his interrogation he had been hung from a cross-like structure for hours and beaten, and had been subjected to hitting and electric batons.

Another child, Qsai Zamara, alleged that his 18-day nightmare at the age of 14 included an interrogation in which he was whipped with a hose and threatened with electrocution.

About these two children, the IDF official stressed that they had never made these claims in court. Mahfouz appeared in court one day after his April 10 arrest, and he returned to court again on April 14 when he entered into a plea bargain, confessing to the crime for which he had been indicted, which was throwing rocks at military vehicles and personnel from a distance of 15 meters during a wide scale demonstration. During these two appearances, he never raised any allegations of being suspended from a cross or being beaten. “The only claim [of abuse] he made in court was on the 14th that the border policeman who arrested him in some way injured him and the court ordered that a protocol of a hearing be sent to the internal affairs office of the police, part of the Justice Ministry, for investigation.”

“Never once did he make a claim regarding his interrogation at any stage,” added the official, who confirmed that Mahfouz was represented by a lawyer in court.

Similarly, Zamara never voiced claims of torture during his court appearances. He was arrested on April 22, 2013, and brought to court the following day for a remand hearing in which he was represented by a lawyer. Three pages of arguments were made on the April 23 hearing, and “never once does he mention the terrible torture he [later said he] was subjected to.” On April 25, he again appeared in court when his indictment was filed. Any alleged torture that took place during interrogations would have happened in this window of time, and yet “never once had Zamara claimed that he had been so viciously attacked or tortured.”

It’s unbelievable that now, 10 months afterwards, he’s making these amazing claims of what happened to him,” stated the incredulous official.

Read the rest of Sternthal’s post, here.

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Guardian Group editors fail to correct false claim on Sabra and Shatila massacre

We’ve been in communication with editors at The Observer (sister publication of the Guardian) regarding a false claim (about the massacre of Palestinian civilians in 1982 by Christian Phalangists), by their foreign affairs editor, Peter Beaumont, in a Jan. 11 report titled ‘Ariel Sharon: a warrior blamed for massacres and praised for peace making‘.

Here are the relevant passages in Beaumont’s report:

It was during this period [the Lebanon War in 1982] he was found by the Kahan commission – investigating the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre in Beirut, when Israeli forces allowed Christian Phalangist militiamen into two refugee camps in Beirut to slaughter hundreds of Palestinian refugees – to have been personally negligent in the killings “for ignoring the danger of bloodshed and revenge [and] not taking appropriate measures to prevent bloodshed”.

The average reader would likely take this to mean that Israeli forces sent Phalangist militiamen with the intent of “slaughtering” Palestinian refugees. However, the Israeli fact-finding mission on the massacre (Kahan Commission) that Beaumont cited was clear – in an over 51,000 word document – that there was no evidence of such an Israeli intent. In fact, quite the opposite is true. The commission found, per the highlighted passages below, that there was no intention by any Israelis to harm the non-combatant population in the Palestinian camps.

Here are a few of the relevant passages from the report:

Contentions and accusations were advanced that even if I.D.F. personnel had not shed the blood of the massacred, the entry of the Phalangists into the camps had been carried out with the prior knowledge that a massacre would be perpetrated there and with the intention that this should indeed take place; and therefore all those who had enabled the entry of the Phalangists into the camps should be regarded as accomplices to the acts of slaughter and sharing in direct responsibility. These accusations too are unfounded. We have no doubt that no conspiracy or plot was entered into between anyone from the Israeli political echelon or from the military echelon in the I.D.F. and the Phalangists, with the aim of perpetrating atrocities in the camps…. No intention existed on the part of any Israeli element to harm the non-combatant population in the camps. … Before they entered the camps and also afterward, the Phalangists requested I .D.F. support in the form of artillery fire and tanks, but this request was rejected by the Chief of Staff in order to prevent injuries to civilians. It is true that I.D.F. tank fire was directed at sources of fire within the camps, but this was in reaction to fire directed at the I.D.F. from inside the camps. We assert that in having the Phalangists enter the camps, no intention existed on the part of anyone who acted on behalf of Israel to harm the non-combatant population, and that the events that followed did not have the concurrence or assent of anyone from the political or civilian echelon who was active regarding the Phalangists’ entry into the camps.

The report further explains IDF instructions to the Phalangist militia prior to the operation to root out terrorists from the camps.

The commanders of the Phalangists arrived for their first coordinating session regarding the entry of their forces into the camps at about 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, 16.9.82, and met with Major-General Drori at the headquarters of one of the divisions. It was agreed at that meeting that they would enter the camps and coordinate this action with Brigadier-General Yaron, commander of the division. This coordination between Brigadier-General Yaron and the Phalangist commanders would take place on Thursday afternoon at the forward command post. It was likewise agreed at that meeting that a company of 150 fighters from the Phalangist force would enter the camps and that they would do so from south to north and from west to east. Brigadier-General Yaron spoke with the Phalangists about the places where the terrorists were located in the camps and also warned them not to harm the civilian population.

If Beaumont had decided to read the report he cited, he would have noted the egregious distortion in his claim that “Israeli forces allowed Christian Phalangist militiamen into two refugee camps in Beirut to slaughter hundreds of Palestinian refugees.”

We’re continuing to press editors at The Observer to revise the passage to more accurately reflect the findings of the Kahan Commission, and will update you when we receive a definitive response.

In the meantime, you can Tweet Peter Beaumont and ask him to address the error.

@petersbeaumont

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Guardian improves original headline to story on ALLEGED ‘Israeli tear gas’ fatality

The Guardian published this Reuters report today:

headlineThere’s one big problem. As you read the report it’s clear that, at this point, there are only “claims” by Palestinian “witnesses” that “an 85-year old Palestinian died after inhaling teargas fired by the Israeli army”.   The Israeli military is investigating the incident, and the allegation has not been corroborated.

Indeed, if you read reports elsewhere which cite the same Reuters story, you’ll see that a significant qualification was included:

headline

Even Al-Arabiya noted that the report was only based on Palestinian sources:

alarabyia

Later in the day, Guardian editors changed the headline, adding quotes around ‘after inhaling tear gas’ and revising language in the strap line (“Villagers say…”) to indicate that the allegations are only based on what some Palestinians are telling the media.

revision

Finally, as past claims about Palestinians allegedly killed by Israeli tear gas demonstrate, responsible media outlets would be wise to follow this story closely and not base their reports merely on Palestinian sources.

Editor’s Note:  We were recently contacted by Guardian editors to explain that CiF Watch did not prompt the correction, and that their staff caught the error and made the change on their own. The title of this post has been amended accordingly.

Murdered Israeli fails to evoke the Guardian’s sympathy

As we noted in a post yesterday, the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood evidently believes – contrary to all evidence – that Palestinian terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) are rare.  

However, the only thing truly rare is substantive coverage by the Guardian of ubiquitous terror attacks (and attempted attacks) on Israelis inside and outside the green line.  A case in point is their “coverage” of the murder of Eden Atias, the 19-year-old from Nazareth Illit who was stabbed to death by a Palestinian teen on a bus at Afula’s central bus station.  

Their sole piece on the lethal terror attack consisted of a generic video they posted on Nov. 13 (with NO accompanying text) which has since been removed.  When you open the link to Harriet Sherwood’s “report”, all you see is the headline and a message below inserted by editors which notes that the content has been removed.

The Guardian’s tendency to downplay Palestinian attacks on Israelis was again on display following the death on Sunday of 31-year-old Master Sgt. Shlomi Cohen, from Afula, who was killed (while driving an army vehicle) by cross-border gunfire from Lebanon.  The following morning, the Guardian published a story on the incident by Conal Urquhart titled ‘Lebanon-Israel border shooting sparks tensions‘.  

orig headline

(It was in the strap line where we first learned that an Israeli soldier was killed.)  

Though the precise details of the shooting are still being investigated, reports confirm that the gunman was a member of the Lebanese Armed Forces and that he fired several bullets from Lebanese territory at Cohen, who was on the Israeli side of the fence.

The Guardian chose to illustrate the story with the following photo of the Israel-Lebanon border.

Lebanon-Israel border shooting sparks tensions

Several hours after the shooting, the IDF reportedly fired shots in the direction of Lebanese soldiers in the same area where Cohen was killed, after spotting “suspicious movement” – though there are conflicting reports as to whether any Lebanese soldiers were actually wounded in the incident.

Roughly 12 hours later (and 14 hours after Urquhart’s original story), Harriet Sherwood published her report on the day’s events in a story titled ‘Israeli troops shoot two Lebanese soldiers in border skirmish‘.

headline(Again, the fact that the shooting took place only after an Israeli soldier was killed is relegated to the strap line.)

The photo Guardian editors used to illustrate the incident was an unrelated photo of Israeli soldiers which dates back at least five years.

Israeli troops near Lebanon

Whilst the report itself is relatively fair, it’s nonetheless troubling that in two stories devoted to an incident which clearly began when an Israeli soldiered was killed by a Lebanese soldier, neither the titles nor accompanying photos convey any information about the Israeli victim.  Additionally, in looking back at prior Guardian reports on lethal Palestinian terror attacks over the past two years, we weren’t able to find even one which included a photo of the Israeli victim.  

The Guardian’s failure to humanize Israeli victims of terror stands in stark contrast to their often fawning coverage of Palestinian terrorists and their families.

Photo of Shabbir Hazam used to illustrate Guardian story: He was a member of Fatah who was sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering a work colleague – Holocaust survivor Isaac Rotenberg – with an axe.

Here’s one of the photos of Shlomi Cohen used by other media outlets, which the Guardian passed on.

cohen1

Here’s his final Facebook update:

cohen's

Cohen leaves behind a wife and seven-month-old baby girl. 

Gaza fisherman fight Israeli “savagery”: Fisking a Guardian Group feature

The Observer (sister publication of the Guardian) devoted over 3400 words to a Sunday Magazine feature on the Israeli ‘assault’ on Gaza’s fishing industry.

gaza

The article was written by Alex Renton, a commentator on issues relating to global poverty, and was based largely on his first-person account with Palestinian fishermen on a vessel off the coast of Gaza. 

We’re first introduced to the skipper of the fishing vessel in the following passage, which notes the putatively argumentative and abrasive nature of the people in the region.

It’s nearly dark. A couple of Israeli F-16 jets make twin scratches across the glow in the southeast, above the Egyptian border. “They own all the world,” mutters old Abu Nayim. But, for now, this feels like the most peaceful place you could find on this crowded coast, where there live some of the most disputatious people in the planet. There’s not much to tell you that this is a very risky way to catch fish.

Israeli Navy fires on vessel?

The passage above is followed by this photo – the same one used to illustrate the feature in the Observer print edition.

fishing under fire

The caption reads:

Under fire: an Israeli gunboat fires on a Palestinian fishing boat/ Photograph: Gianluca Panella for the Observer

However, the illuminated water rising above the vessel would likely indicate that warning shots were fired into the water, near the vessel.

Israelis shoot the messenger?

The previous passage continues thus:

But his son, 22-year-old Mukhtar, is more anxious. He was on the boat on Monday when the Israeli navy put four bullets into the fibre-glass tender – a felucca – that’s bobbing behind us. He warns Gianluca, the photographer, who has his telephoto lens out – “If they see you poking that out, they will shoot at you.”

The quote – suggesting that the Israeli Navy has a habit of firing on photojournalists – is of course left un-examined by Renton.

“To go over six miles is death”?

They bob at anchor, their lights festive against the dark ocean. We’re close to the limit, as close as Abu Nayim dares, because the further out to sea the more sardines there are. “To go over six miles is death,” says Abu Nayim.

Actually, the most recent Palestinian civilians killed at sea were killed by the Egyptian Navy which, by all accounts, appears to be much more trigger-happy than the IDF when patrolling the seas

Israeli Navy tosses live grenades at fishing nets?

The above passage continues thus:

Once, when he may have drifted over, an Israeli gunboat tossed a live grenade on to the nets. In the past month the fishing boats of Gaza have come under fire 10 times.

The charge, left unchallenged by the Observer contributor, that the Israeli Navy “tossed a live grenade on to the nets”, seems highly unlikely. And, we were unable to find any news sources making a similar claim.

Israeli Navy “curses the prophet”?

There’s another one-second blast of machine-gun fire. I can see the Israeli boat, so close to the fishing boat that its huge bow-wave gleams white in the lights. It’s circling the fishermen at high-speed, the wake throwing the fishing boat around. There’s shouting, through a megaphone. “The Israelis are insulting them,” says my interpreter. He doesn’t want to say the words. “They curse the prophet. They call the fishermen ‘son of a dog’. Tell them to go back to Palestine.”

Though there is no way to prove or disprove it, the claim – alleged by Renton’s interpreter – that Israelis cursed Muhammad through the boat’s megaphone again simply strains credulity. 

Israel is destroying a once thriving fishing industry.

Not so long ago, Gaza had a thriving fishing industry. In 1994 the Oslo peace accords with Israel granted the Palestinian enclave, which was formed largely by refugees from the 1948 war that followed the founding of Israel, rights to fish up to 20 nautical miles offshore. That supported a fishing industry, according to a study done by the United Nations Foodand Agriculture Organisation (FAO), of some 4,000 boat-owning families. In 2004 they landed nearly 3,000 tonnes of fish. It was crucial to the nutrition of the 1.7 million people of the Gaza Strip, more than half of whom were dependent on food aid, even then.

It’s true that in 2004 Palestinians in Gaza landed nearly 3,000 tonnes of fish. However, the implication most would draw from this is that the tonnage has decreased every year since the Israeli blockade in 2006 – a claim easily disproven by figures provided by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS).  As you can see, 2004 was a statistical anomaly.  In 2003, the catch was roughly 1.5 tons, while in 2005 the catch was 1.8 tons.   The catch in 2012 (just under 2.1 tons), as you can see in the PCBS chart below, was higher than in the three previous years.

PCBS. (click to enlarge)

PCBS Data. (click to enlarge)

 Sewage.

Three miles or six, the industry’s collapse was inevitable. Fishing inshore is poor, and there’s an added danger because of Gaza’s failed sewage system. That was built to serve 400,000 people, and it has collapsed because of war damage and lack of materials to maintain it. Eighty-nine million litres of raw or partially treated waste water go straight into the sea every day. Last year the fishermen’s catch was less than half what it had been 10 years before

However, as Reuters reported last month, the sewage system’s failure is largely due to “Egypt’s…crackdown on cross-border smuggling tunnels that used to bring fuel in cheaply”, which forced Gaza’s waste water treatment plant to close. Additional factors leading to the fuel crisis include “political infighting” between Hamas and Fatah, a fact confirmed recently by a Hamas spokesperson (and one notable Gaza resident).  If the sewage is indeed harming the Gaza fishing sector, it seems largely due to Egyptian restrictions and Palestinian infighting.

“Savage” Israelis?

Fishing is a harsh trade at any time, but here it is made rather more risky by the Israeli navy. As I witnessed, it makes its own arbitrary rules about the fishing zone, and exacts savage punishments for those who break them. 

As Renton noted elsewhere in the article, the overwhelming majority of fishermen who go beyond the nautical limit are not harmed at all.  Some are detained, while others are simply led back to an area closer to the Gaza coast.  Renton wrote that “often fishermen will be taken to Israeli ports, blindfolded and handcuffed and questioned under ‘aggressive interrogation’ (the UN’s phrase) and then, after what may be several days’ detention, charged a fee to be transported back to the border.”  However you can reasonably characterize such consequences, the word “savage” is clearly meaningless hyperbole.

The “World’s largest prison”?

For the people of Gaza, then numbering 1.5 million, normal life ended. Not since they were children had any of the young men I went fishing with left the “prison” – that’s David Cameron’s term.

Actually, per Twitter, that’s also a term fancied by Alex Renton:

tweet

It’s your fault the Jews are here.

In the penultimate paragraph there is this curious exchange between the journalist and one of the protagonists:

“You’re from Britain,” says the eldest son, Nayim. “It’s your fault. You invited the Jews to come from Europe to here, to take our land.” I demurred: it was more complicated than that. “What about the Balfour declaration?” he asked – referring to the note signed in 1917 by Britain’s foreign secretary AJ Balfour, declaring that Britain favoured the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. I thought about telling him that Balfour was my grandmother’s uncle, and that my own great-uncle fought Israeli terrorists in Jerusalem in 1947, as a British policeman. But what I said was: “It’s true, we are part of the history. We are responsible, too.”

There’s so much to unpack in this exchange between the ‘victim and accused’.  Even more troubling than Renton’s failure to challenge the anti-historical charge that Jews were “invited” from Europe to take Palestinian land is his insistence on his own moral innocence. Renton is on the right side of history. His family fought the Jews. 

Finally, someone wrote a response to Renton in the reader comment section beneath his article at The Observer.  The response (to the passage we noted above) was inexplicably deleted by ‘CiF’ moderators.  However, we were able to take a screen shot of the comment before its deletion. Here is the text:

Palestine once the Arabs (not in those days called Palestinians) made it clear they didn’t want Jewish immigrants, even though Ottoman censuses showed that Jerusalem had a Jewish majority from the first census in the mid-19th century.

Following bloody pogroms in Palestine by Arabs against Jews in the late 1920s and into the 1930s the pro-Arab British assured the Arab leadership that only a few thousand European Jews a year would henceforth be allowed in with an absolute total limit of 75,000. This was after Hitler had come to power and when Jews from across Europe were desperately seeking sanctuary somewhere, anywhere. Britain, the Dominions and colonies didn’t want most of them before, during or after the Holocaust. From the 1930s until 1948 the Royal Navy blockaded the coast of Palestine and turned back and even sunk (yes, sunk) merchant ships carrying Holocaust survivors to prevent them reaching ports. Thousands of Holocaust survivors from across Europe were interned by the British in camps on Cyprus.

Even before 1948 when Israel came into existence as a legal state and was immediately attacked by several Arab armies and air forces, there were Arab schemes to destroy any prosperity that Jews might generate even though thousands of Arabs from Jordan, Lebanon and Syria had settled in Palestine as Jews immigrated, attracted by the economic benefits Jews were developing. That is why as early as 1945 there was an Arab Boycott of Jews organization sponsored by the Arab League. (Not boycott of Israel, which didn’t then exist, but boycott of all things Jewish.)

As Alex Renton also knows, I am sure, approximately 850,000 Jews were forced to leave Muslim countries from 1948 onward and most of them tried to get to Israel. These were not Jews from Europe, these were Jews who lived in Arab countries, spoke Arabic and had absorbed Arab culture and had lived in North Africa and the Middle East since long before most of these regions were conquered by the Arabs and long before the arrival of Islam.

It is never explained why it seems to be a perfectly acceptable stance for some pro-Palestinians to support those Arabs who want to ‘remove’ Jews who live in Israel, even if they are from families who have always lived in what is now Israel. Both Hamas and the PA have publicly stated that no Jew will be permitted to live in ‘liberated’ Palestine.

Yes, Mr. Renton, it is indeed “a bit more complicated” than you suggest.

Roy Amlot in The Times: Israeli soldiers kill Palestinian children with relative impunity

A British lawyer named Roy Amlot wrote an op-ed for The Times, West Bank: justice in the military courts‘, Nov. 14, recounting his recent experiences visiting the West Bank “to observe the military courts in action…under the aegis of the Bar Human Rights Committee (BHRC).”

roy

BHRC claims it is dedicated to “promoting principles of justice and respect for fundamental human rights through the rule of law in different parts of the world”, by working within the legal and human rights sectors of various countries.

Amlot begins by explaining his visit to the region:

A small group of barristers recently visited the West Bank to observe the military courts in action — our second such visit under the aegis of the Bar Human Rights Committee.  Since our first visit a few years ago a number of changes have been made by the Israeli authorities, such as the introduction of a Juvenile Military Court, and the purpose of the visit was to see what impact these had made. Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank are tried for a wide range of offences, including motoring ones, in military courts run by the Israeli Army, and in which all officials from judges to prosecutors to translators are serving Army officers.

Some of his reflections seem painfully obvious, such as his observation that the atmosphere at military courts can be “intimidating”.

A whole range of sentences is available to the court. We visited the two courts of Ofer and Salem in the West Bank, where both adults and children were on trial, separately, but without any obvious sign when the court moved from one jurisdiction to the other. In both courts the atmosphere is intimidating.

In other passages, Amlot’s attempts to provide context strain credulity, such as when he employs the following absurd political analogy:

A large Berlin-like wall runs north to south along a route declared unlawful by the International Court of Justice for the fact that it cuts deep into Palestinian territory, dividing families and their communities from their lands.

First, less than 10% of the security fence – built in response to waves of deadly terrorist attacks during the Second Intifada – is actually a “wall”, with the vast majority composed of a chain-link fence.  Additionally, the sections which are concrete walls were designed with the decidedly humanitarian purpose of preventing Palestinian snipers from shooting at Israeli civilian vehicles.  More importantly, in case it needs reminding, the Berlin Wall was built by communist East Germany to keep their citizens from leaving, whilst the Israeli security fence was constructed to keep terrorists from entering.

However, the most egregious smear is found in the last paragraph of Amlot’s piece:

Where sentences are imposed [against Israeli soldiers], they are woefully lenient. Killing a Palestinian child may attract no more than a few months of community service. It is discrimination at its worst.

First, the dearth of anything resembling details in his broad claim makes it difficult to know what incidents he’s referencing.  Even assuming Israeli culpability in the unlisted cases, is he referring to soldiers convicted of murder, manslaughter, or negligence? Further, what is the time frame? Is he referring to recent cases, or ones which go back many years?

If his claim is based on cases which date back several years or so, the NGO B’tselem lists 12 Palestinian minors (under 18) killed in the West Bank (under any circumstances) during anti-terror operations since Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09, and reported the details in cases involving the deaths of three Palestinian minors which they believed suggested possible IDF culpability.  The circumstances surrounding these three – two aged 16 and one age 15 – vary (and all but one are still under investigation) but all took place during violent Palestinian riots or terror attacks.

Additionally, a more extensive report on Palestinian fatalities since 2000 by the NGO Yesh Din only lists only two examples (both occurring more than 10 years ago) in which Palestinian minors were killed and Israeli soldiers were found guilty.  In both cases the soldiers were convicted for negligence (not murder), and even in these situations the sentences handed down exceeded “a few months community service”.  

Beyond the specifics, however, the smear that Israeli soldiers murder Palestinian children with impunity is part of a larger lethal narrative advanced by anti-Israel activists and some Guardian “journalists” which we’ve addressed previously. Indeed, no matter how absurd the charges that the IDF targets innocent Palestinian kids, such morally reckless memes evoking the specter of unimaginable Jewish malevolence have become so ingrained in the Islamist and extreme-left imagination that the facts regarding such libels become almost irrelevant.  

However, as it is the job of professional journalists to distinguish between proven facts and unsupportable accusations, we eagerly await a clarification by Amlot (or Times editors) which includes details on the supposed ‘impunity’ granted to Israeli soldiers who allegedly have ‘killed Palestinian children’.

Is the Guardian unmoved by the recent terror attack on a 9-year-old Israeli girl?

As most mainstream media news sites and wire services have reported, a 9-year-old girl named Noam Glick was shot Saturday night in Psagot – an Israeli town located north of Jerusalem, adjacent to Ramallah, al-Bireh, and Kokhav Ya’akov - in a likely Palestinian terror attack.

Noam had stumbled upon a man, believed to be a Palestinian terrorist, as he was about to break into her home. He shot her from a very close distance and then fled the scene. The girl was apparently saved because the bullet that hit her in the neck didn’t move two centimeters to the left or the right, her father, Yisrael Glick, told reporters.

According to her father’s account, per the Jerusalem Post

Around 9:20 p.m. on Saturday night Noam returned home from a Bnei Akiva event. She walked by her front yard, which was littered with bicycles and a tricycle. As she started to descend the outside back stairwell, she saw a figure on the bottom landing with a masked face and eyes that peered out into the darkness, her father said.

“At first it went through her head that maybe this was a guest, but then she understood that it was not,” Glick said.

Based on his daughter’s description, Glick said, the man saw Noam, stood a meter away, aimed his gun and fired three shots.

Noam later told her father, “Abba [father] he aimed a gun at me and then there were three [explosions], bomb, bomb, bomb.”

Then she yelled, “‘Save me!’ as loud as she could,” Glick said. He added that he believes her scream scared the man and caused him to flee.

IDF soldiers are still searching for the terrorist who they believe fled to the nearby Palestinian town of El Bireh.

Thus far, the Guardian has not devoted any coverage to the attack on Noam.

Their dearth of coverage regarding the attempted murder of a little Israeli girl stands in contrast to their coverage, in July, of a 5-year-old Palestinian boy who was briefly detained by Israeli troops after throwing rocks at cars near Hebron. Here’s a snapshot of the Guardian video report on the incident:

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Guardian, July 12

The father of the Palestinian boy was briefly questioned and then the two were both released.

The Israeli girl remains hospitalized at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center following surgery which was performed on Saturday night. 

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Noam Glick enters a Jerusalem hospital after being shot by a terrorist on Saturday night.

Do Guardian editors fact check the letters they choose to publish?

I’d imagine that the Guardian receives thousands of letters submitted by their readers for publication, of which only a few are likely published.  

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Their Letters page notes that the paper reserves the right to edit each submission, which prompted me to wonder whether the following letter, one of many about Syria published on Aug. 28, was even minimally fact checked: 

• Just to get a bit of balance on the excessive coverage of the children who were perhaps killed by a chemical attack by either Assad’s forces or the rebels. On 15 January 2009, Israel attacked Gaza and 210 to 300 children were killed in the raids; 700 adults were also killed. The list of names was published by al-Jazeera on 15 January 2009. Children have been killed throughout the Middle East, but the west only focuses on certain cases that help its political interests.
Janet Salmon
Richmond, Surrey

First, whilst the prose is quite confusing, Ms. Salmon’s letter could easily be understood as (falsely) asserting that, just as Syrian children were (“perhaps”!) killed by chemical weapons (“by either Assad’s forces or the rebels”), Israel perpetrated a similar crime in January of 2009. Of course, the writer doesn’t say this explicitly but, based on the wording, that is how it could easily be interpreted by an average reader. 

Second, in reading the letter you’d be forgiven for assuming that on January 15, 2009 Israel launched an attack on Gaza, resulting in the death of a thousand Palestinians, including 300 children, on that one day alone.  Of course, however, Israel’s war against Hamas terrorists in Gaza (Operation Cast Lead) lasted a little over three weeks – commencing on Dec. 27, 2008 and ending on Jan 18, 2009. And, whilst claims regarding the total death toll varied, the casualty figures cited in Salmon’s letter did not occur on that one January day, but over the course of the entire 23 day war. 

All of this information could easily have been revealed by a simple Google search, a fact-checking task which doesn’t seem too arduous for a team of professional Guardian editors.

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.

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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. 

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Isaac (Azik) Rotenberg: Date unknown

Harriet Sherwood visits town of Nabi Selah – forgets to mention the little monster it spawned

The Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Harriet Sherwood has returned after a short absence and filed a report on June 12, from the West Bank town of Nabi Selah, about efforts by British foreign office minister Alistair Burt “to revive moribund peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians”. Sherwood, in a story titled ‘Middle East peace talks must succeed to avoid despair says UK minister‘, describes Burt’s visit to the Palestinian town, where he urged Palestinians involved in “grassroots protests” against the “occupation of their land” to give their leaders a “completely free hand” to re-engage with negotiations.

In recounting the supposed difficulties of Burt’s efforts to restart talks, Sherwood includes only those obstacles allegedly created by Israeli leaders to a degree that the reader would be forgiven for believing that a culture of incitement, as well as preconditions set by Palestinian leaders to resume talks, had any role whatsoever in obstructing the political process. However, it’s when Sherwood pivots to detailing the UK minister’s visit to Nabi Selah, a town along the hills of southern Samaria, when the most pronounced obfuscation about Palestinian intentions occurs.

Sherwood writes the following:

Burt’s visit to Nabi Saleh – his third in two years – was part of a personal commitment to track the village’s protests against the encroachments of a nearby Jewish settlement and the forceful response by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) to weekly demonstrations. Two villagers have been killed by IDF fire, in December 2011 and November 2012.

“This is a very important stop for me,” he told village representatives. “The reason I keep coming is to maintain a relationship with the families [of the dead men], to make clear they are not forgotten and that those of us who care about the issues of Nabi Saleh will continue to support you in the hope the suffering is not in vain.

“What’s happened here has been wrong; wrong for the settlers to take your land, and wrong in the way the IDF handled demonstrations.”

Naji Tamimi, the leader of the local protest group, said: “We consider you a brother … As a politician, it’s important to know what the people think, not just the [political] leaders.” He appealed for the British government to “support the popular resistance”, adding that the IDF response to protests had become harsher.

Another village protest leader, Bassem Tamimi, said: “The visit is important, but it’s not a big issue. We need real pressure on Israel to stop settlements. The UK is a big state, and we expect more action.”

You may recall that the town of Nabi Selah (and Sherwood’s protagonist, Bassem Tamimi) was featured in a New York Times magazine cover story by Ben Ehrenreich, which romanticized the culture of terrorism in Bassem’s ‘little village’, and whitewashed the crime of its most famous resident, a woman named Ahlam Tamimi – whom, per Ehrenreich, is still much-loved in the town.   

As Arnold and Frimet Roth explained in-depth recently, in response to Ehrenreich’s story, Tamimi (released in 2011 during the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange) is the Palestinian who escorted a suicide bomber to a Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem in 2001 – a massacre which left fifteen people dead, including the Roth’s’ daughter Malki who was only fifteen years old at the time:

[Ahlam Tamimi] was 21 years old and the news-reader on official Palestinian Authority television when she signed on with Hamas to become a terrorist. She engineered, planned and helped execute a massacre in the center of Jerusalem on a hot summer afternoon in 2001. She chose the target, a restaurant filled with Jewish children. And she brought the bomb. The outcome (15 killed, a sixteenth still in a vegetative state today, 130 injured) was so uplifting to her that she has gone on camera again and again to say, smiling into the camera lens, how proud she is of what she did. She is entirely free of regret. A convicted felon and a mass-murderer convicted on multiple homicide charges, she has never denied the role she embraced and justifies it fully.

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Aftermath of Jerusalem Sbarro bombing in 2001

Sherwood completely fails to mention Ahlam Tamimi in her report.

Further, we humbly suggest that if Mr. Burt truly wants to understand Nabi Selah and, relatedly, the reluctance of many Israelis to take seriously the casual and ubiquitous assurances of Palestinians’ peaceful intentions, that he consider paying a visit to grieving mothers and fathers who continue to suffer as the result of the monsters spawned by such tiny Arab villages in the hills.

IDF stymies Harriet Sherwood’s obsessive coverage of Israeli conscientious objector

Conscientious objectors have been with us as long as there have been wars, and the fact that there are a few Israelis who claim this status in an attempt to exempt themselves from the state’s universal conscription is not at all surprising. Yet the story of one such objector, Nathan Blanc, seems to have especially captivated the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent, Harriet Sherwood.

Blanc is a Haifa resident who, in 2012, reported to the IDF induction center but refused assignment to an army unit due to his objections to Israeli policies.  Blanc has been imprisoned for a total of 177 days at a military prison (based on ten separate arrests for continuing to refuse to serve) before the IDF recently allowed him to do alternative non-military service instead.

Over a two month period Sherwood has published three reports and over 1500 sympathetic words about Blanc’s case, including a piece yesterday about the decision by the IDF exemption committee “to allow Blanc to undertake a period of civilian service in lieu of a three-year stint in the army”.

sherwoodAs my colleague Hadar Sela observed in a post about Sherwood’s previous report on Blanc, in contrast to the Guardian, the story has barely registered on the radar of the Israeli media, but has been “energetically promoted by a plethora of fringe far-Left Israeli [groups], including Amnesty International IsraelNew Profile,Kibush‘ and…the anti-conscription group Yesh Gvul“.

In comparison, Sherwood only saw fit to devote one report on the lethal terrorist attack, in late April, on an Israeli man named Eviatar Borovzky – whose human rights were violated when he was stabbed to death by a Palestinian as he waited for a bus – and even that managed to refer to the victim in the pejorative, in both the text and in the strap line.

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The report also devoted a majority of the text to the unrelated IDF killing of a global jihad-affiliated terrorist in Gaza, with only 6 of 21 passages (encompassing 316 words) focusing on the murder of Borovsky.

We’ll of course never know how much additional coverage Sherwood would have devoted to the case of Nathan Blanc if the IDF didn’t allow him to opt out of regular military service, so whilst Israel’s Military Prison Number 6 has lost an inmate, it seems that Harriet Sherwood has lost an Israeli protagonist.